This tenth anniversary issue of this journal, dedicated to creative explorations of health and healing, includes more than 120 pages of poetry; nonfiction contributions by 14 essayists; five short stories; and more than a dozen pages of appealing and memorable artwork.
Asked by the journal’s editors to contribute to Healing Muse, 2008-2010 national poet laureate Kay Ryan offers up “Why We Must Struggle” (“how will we sense / the shape of our losses?”), setting the tone for the journal’s editorial approach. Poet Charlene Langfur counters Ryan’s query in “The Lotus of Endurance”:
Endurance may not be the right word for it,
for what’s within us when we’re not quite us—
when waiting for the old-us-we-know-so well
to return a missing part of our lives.
And Dearing Writing Award Winner (Student Division), Erika St. James, extends and brings to conclusion Ryan and Langur’s musings: “Solid roots Strong gusts / Cling here Fling far.”
Essays by Lauri Blanch, “What Doctors Do”; Daniel Roberts, “Hempel’s Disease”; and Mona de Vestel, “The Cost of Life”; illustrate the range and power of the personal essay. Lyzette Wanzer’s story, “Seasons,” demonstrates fiction’s potency when it comes to elucidating issues of health and medical matters. Hard to resist a first sentence like “She wondered: How does a hospice select its wallpaper?”
The artwork is particularly striking in this issue. How not to be soothed—healed—by the beautiful paintings of Karen Burns and Joan Applebaum? If I hadn’t spent so much time in physician’s waiting rooms this last year (that darn broken hip!), I might not be as taken with Gwynneth VanLaven’s “Waiting Rooms” images, so starkly and perfectly rendered.
Paul Rousseau’s essay begins, “Illness paid me a visit.” If you’re interested in the literature of illness and wellness, pay a visit to The Healing Muse.