Bloodline

Ansley Clark, University of Colorado Boulder

Abstract

Part voyeurism and part interiority, Bloodline navigates both the individual and a complex continuum of contemporary women. These poems address a microcosm of experiences with breast cancer and genetic inheritance in the 21st century in order to inform and interrogate the macrocosmic experience. In other words, Bloodline locates its readers inside the individual experience in order to argue for the validity and significance of female interiority, especially in the face of common experiences with illness. Thus, questions these poems explore include: “How is female interiority treated in the 21st century?”; “How does the excess of information available today affect us?”; “How does the individual experience allow us to better understand the universal experience?”; and “Who/what do we belong to?”

Bloodline’s continuum or multiplicity of contemporary women becomes a way to save the book’s subject from the fear and isolation induced by loss and illness. The voyeuristic glances into daily emotional and physical minutia examine how an individual woman can ground herself, surrounded by contemporary technology, information, and the ways in which male subjects negate feminine experiences and spaces. Through interrogating the minutia of women’s lives, the poems examine the ways in which the subject distracts herself from and confronts emotional and physical upheaval. The multiplicity of women and their experiences also resist the traditional male gaze, which often reduces women to singularity. In observing these other women, the subject absorbs new strategies, information, and answers to the question of how one should/can live. Consequently, this multiplicity of women and these experiences of interiority become necessary to the subject’s survival.

Drawing parallels between this multiplicity of women and the multiplicity present in the natural world, the poems also delve into systems of biology, including disease, genetics, the female body, and the woods. Bloodline’s lyric narrative mirrors the movements of a subject’s anxious and vulnerable mind struggling to find peace inside this world of multiplicity and masculine negation, of disease and information.