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Detailing Trauma

A Poetic Anatomy

Arianne Zwartjes

Publication Year: 2012

In a series of linked lyric essays, Detailing Trauma explores in vivid, sometimes graphic detail the many types of wounds from which the human body and spirit may suffer—and heal. Mapping the diseases and injuries that can afflict the body, the author asks how we can continue to live and love in the face of the great potential for suffering and loss.
She names each section of the book for body parts or processes, then juxtaposes the functions and failures of human anatomy with experiences in her own life and those of people she knows and loves, meticulously stitching together life’s fractures and ruptures with skillful narrative. Each essay offers glimpses of hope and reasons for living with the likelihood of chaos and pain, reasons for choosing to love despite the risks.

Zwartjes’s beautifully crafted poetic prose humanizes the technical descriptions of medical conditions and illuminates the scientific understanding of emotional states. Far more than a popularization of science, Detailing Trauma explores the wondrous anatomy and physiology of the human body, a geography of our human frailties—and also our wealth, as humans, of love and hope and the capacity for meditative thought. 

Published by: University of Iowa Press


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The Anatomy of Trust or Breaking

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pp. 3-15

The pulse shudders the body at such infinitesimal levels that many of us ignore its existence. Walk around carrying fists in the center of our chests, the bottom tipped somewhat rightward, sitting . . .


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If Language Fails Us, or Body

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pp. 19-28

We humans are mercilessly subject to our own body chemicals. Just let the brain suggest to the body that it release certain compounds— testosterone, progesterone, dopamine, adrenaline—and . . .


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This Suturing of Wounds or Words

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pp. 31-44

My friend Nina archives & restores old films. Their bodies accumulate everything from dust to mold to dirt, shrink and become brittle, crack or start to break apart. They’re decaying from old . . .


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Cicatrice & Sclerosis: On Hardening

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pp. 47-59

Bodies of people with this condition “repair” damage oddly. White blood cells, instead of attacking foreign invaders, tackle the body’s muscle or connective tissue. They carry with them . . .


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The Pathology of Loss & Longing

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pp. 63-77

The appendix is a strange remnant. An afterthought, a survivor, a vestige. Or is it? New medical thinking suggests that perhaps the appendix has useful function after all: researchers at Duke . . .


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A Cardiovascular Study in Hope

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pp. 81-89

Strawberries in a breakfast: the color of blood garnets, once used in arrows as indiscernible weaponry—hard to find & remove from the slippery of artery and its fluid. A tiny darted gem . . .

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pp. 91-91

To Aisha Sabatini Sloan, Leah Simmons Davis, Nishta Mehra: I love you immensely. Thank you for keeping me open/balancing the . . .


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pp. 93-99

Works Cited

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pp. 101-103

E-ISBN-13: 9781609381431
Print-ISBN-13: 9781609381288

Page Count: 102
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 808867306
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Detailing Trauma