Therese Estacion survived a rare infection that nearly killed her, but not without losing both her legs below the knees, several fingers, and reproductive organs. Phantompains is a visceral, imaginative collection exploring disability, grief and life by interweaving stark memories with magic surrealism.
Taking inspiration from Filipino horror and folk tales, Estacion incorporates some Visayan language into her work, telling stories of mermen, gnomes and ogres that haunt childhood stories of the Philippines and, then, imaginings in her hospital room, where she spent months after her operations, recovering.
There is a dreamlike quality to these pieces, rivaled by depictions of pain, of amputation, of hysterectomy, of disability, and the realization of catastrophic change.
Estacion says she wrote these poems out of necessity: an essential task to deal with the trauma of hospitalization and what followed. Now, they are demonstrations of the power of our imaginations to provide catharsis, preserve memory, rebel and even to find self-love.
Praise for Phantompains:
"Phantompains is a text of rare power, birthing a brave new world flush with pain, lust, drugs and the uterus. Estacion's 'Eunuched Female' is a masterpiece: utterly indelible. " —Tamara Faith Berger, author of Queen Solomon
"I love Therese Estacion's book. I love its humour, clarity, irreverence, and rage. It's not a book about triumph (though she has triumphed), or perseverance (though she has persevered), or courage (though she has it). To me, it is a book about vision and reckoning, descent and return. Therese Estacion plunged into an abyss—found suffering, dehumanization, terror—and when she emerged, she chose to make radically confrontational art. Phantompains is the cosmic result of her dwelling, and her passage. In her words, "she became the subject"—I think she also became the seer. " —Sara Peters, author of I Become a Delight to My Enemies
Therese Estacion is part of the Visayan diaspora community. She spent her childhood between Cebu and Gihulngan, two distinct islands found in the archipelago named by its colonizers as the Philippines, before she moved to Canada with her family when she was ten years old. She is an elementary school teacher and is currently studying to be a psychotherapist. Therese is also a bilateral below knee and partial hands amputee, and identifies as a disabled person/person with a disability. Therese lives in Toronto. Her poems have been published in CV2 and PANK Magazine, and shortlisted for the Marina Nemat Award. Phantompains is her first book.