Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lyndsay Kirkham reviews Katie L. Price’s BRCA: Birth of a Patient (2015) in Broken Pencil #68

Lyndsay Kirkham was good enough to review Katie L. Price’s BRCA: Birth of a Patient (2015) in Broken Pencil #68. Thanks so much! This is actually the second review of Price’s chapbook, after Edric Mesmer reviewed such over in Yellow Field. And of course, copies of Price’s chapbook is still very much available. As she writes:

BRCA: Birth of a Patient is an experimental flexing of poetry’s potential, ultimately, asking the question: can anything stand as poetry? Opening with an x-rayed image of a tumored breast, this chapbook follows the medicalized progress of a young woman who has discovered a lump in her right breast.
            A variety of medical documents, charts and imaging stand in as the poetics of this narrative. Points of view switch from different oncology specialists; the reader is asked to conjure a redacted patient from a history – a history that is not of the patient, but of her diseased body. With an obvious nod to found poetry and the longer forms, Price’s work functions as an academic exercise that asks questions, prods at long-established institutions, and challenges the reader’s own notions about body, gender essentialism and the relationship between illness and the self.
            Price is clearly critical of how medical culture writes the body, particularly the diseased body. It is what the author has expunged from the medical files that stands out as the poetic muscle of BRCA. One line reads: “The above findings were discussed with        of _____________ and 2:05 p.m.” Readers can easily insert themselves into this fictionalized file and locate the anonymity experienced by the ordered process of documented disease.
            Unfortunately, the medical-chart format of Birth of a Patient leaves the reader hunting for trinkets of poetics in an eye-straining wall of medicalized discourse. With dense passages that offer little more than a 2-dimentsional report on a patient’s breast cancer, many of the pieces fail to illuminate the meaning that Price is so obviously shooting for.
            A deeper consideration of organization and the use of white space would lend itself to the author’s goal of critiquing how our culture writes the body. BRCA should be appreciated for the queries it makes about text, authorship and our relationship to bodies and verse.

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