New book: The Aphasia Café, by Dawn McGuire ’76 (IF SF Publishing)
The author: A neurologist and a poet, McGuire has written two other collections of poetry, Sleeping in Africa and Hands On. An adjunct professor of neurology at the Neurosciences Institute of Morehouse School of Medicine, she researches minority health disparities in stroke and dementia. For years she has treated people with aphasia, a disorder that is caused by stroke, brain tumors, dementia, and other illnesses and leaves many people unable to speak or express their thoughts.
The book: Her latest collection of about 50 poems was inspired by her aphasia patients. Some of these poems aim to examine what happens to identity when people struggle with this disorder. But McGuire also explores the “everyday aphasias we all share: the ways we often can’t say what we mean, or mean what we say, or understand what others are trying to tell us; how we sometimes cry out in frustrated curses, or babble on and on despite the cluelessness of the Other.”
Opening lines: “The Aphasia Café poems are about the breakdown of language after brain injuries: stroke, violence, disease. Many different kinds of aphasics come to the café, as well as Dr. Fogelsong, the well-meaning but often hapless neurologist they call ‘Fogsong.’ These poems are experiments in lyric, asking what happens to identity and the construction of self and world after language has fractured along one of its fault lines.”