A History of Touch

By Erin Vance

A History of Touch
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Bearing witness to women in history.

A History of Touching is a poetry collection about women in folklore and history who were ill, disabled, or otherwise labelled ‘hysteric. ’ The work bears witness to the lives of women with varying experiences, such as a woman whose epilepsy ... Read more


Overview

Bearing witness to women in history.

A History of Touching is a poetry collection about women in folklore and history who were ill, disabled, or otherwise labelled ‘hysteric. ’ The work bears witness to the lives of women with varying experiences, such as a woman whose epilepsy was mistaken for demonic possession, Sarah Winchester’s grief, Mary Roff and her love of leeches, and the “witch”, Biddy Early. There is a poem about Bridget Cleary, who upon displaying her independence was burned to death by her husband, believing her to be a changeling. The collection includes pieces on anchoresses, Rosemary Kennedy, and accused witches. A History of Touching tells the stories of ‘difficult women. ’ Each poem discusses an aspect of or a moment in a woman’s life, connecting these moments to different aspects of embodiment and the natural world. A History of Touching is an examination of women vilified or left behind for their strength or their weakness. This book uses strong poetic imagery and metaphor to elevate details drawn from real life to that of poetry. The book comprises of three sections, each drifting between biographical poetry (Scrying, about Biddy Early), experimental poetry (Projections of a Glass Womb, which manipulates the text of a midwifery textbook), fairy tale sequences (What a Pretty Sight), folklore, (Macha, Flickers) and pieces that incorporate elements of confessional poetry (Bloodletting, Whiskers).

Erin Vance

Erin Vance is an alumna of the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. She holds an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Calgary and studies Irish Folklore and Ethnology at University College Dublin. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks, most recently The Sorceress Who Left too Soon: Poems After Remedios Varo from Coven Editions. Erin was a recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize in 2017, nominated by Aritha van Herk, and was a finalist for the 2018 Alberta Magazine Showcase Awards for fiction for her short story, "All the Pretty Bones", which appeared in filling station magazine. Her writing has appeared in Contemporary Verse 2, EVENT Magazine, Augur Magazine, Canthius, and more. She lives with her partner and many books in Calgary, Alberta.

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