Many writers have tried to write about pain, or the difficulty of writing about pain. Phantompains, while not a meta-text that directly addresses these difficulties, nevertheless creates frameworks to talk and write about this sensory experience.
A collection of many forms ranging from epistolary to essay—a knotted body of text talking in the language of pain—queer and trans mixed Arab poet Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch’s debut poetry collection knot body is a playful, curious, and incisive call to return to the body that explores, among other things, the invisible and (trans)gendered aspects of chronic pain.
Saturn Peach is an impressive debut. Withdrawn and melancholy, this collection is rich with fresh imagery. With beautiful images like “beetle-tongue”(“Some Trees”), “almond milk in all the trees”(“Stadium Show”), or waving “one’s heart at the sky like a dirty washcloth” (“Figura”), Lily Wang juxtaposes playfulness with a feeling of melancholy present throughout her collection. This sadness is more peripheral than outright, hanging off the poems, leaving space for love and friendship. In the poem “For My Friends Who Save Me,” the speaker exclaims, “Here come my friends. / Chirping in a rainbow floating on a puddle. Easy. / I’m clutched in a claw.” The more vulnerable moments are touching, but not too saccharine, maintaining the cool voice of the narrator. Adept at hugging the line, Wang never becomes overly sentimental nor too absurd, keeping the reader on their toes but never plunging too far in one direction or the other.