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The Emma Press


Anthology of Illness

Anthology of Illness


Edited by Amy Mackelden and Dr Dylan Jaggard, with illustrations by Emma Dai’an Wright.

“It takes a year for the four white stripes on my nails

to grow out. Evenly-spaced transverse bands of

white discolouration on my nail plate, I’m told I

should think of them as my growth rings, my tree

rings. But I bite them to the quick and cover them

with nail polish, from cuticle to tip. When you take

my hand, I curl my fingers around yours, hiding

the ridges. Later, I push back my cuticle to examine

my lunula for chalky striations, but I find only a

waning gibbous.”
‘Mees Lines’, a poem by Cassandra Atherton from the anthology.

80 pages

Publication date: 24th September 2020

Paperback ISBN 978-1-910139-53-0

GTIN: N/A SKU: 9781910139530 Categories: , , Tags: ,

Amy Mackelden and Dr Dylan Jaggard

Amy Mackelden lives with MS, anxiety, and PCOS. She’s the weekend editor at Harper’s BAZAAR, and co-founded Butcher’s Dog poetry magazine. In 2019, she was awarded a Developing Your Creative Practice grant from Arts Council England to undertake a short course in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. Dr Dylan Jaggard has a PhD in Philosophy from Birkbeck College, London, and has published work on aesthetics and ethics. He’s lived with depression for most of his life.


From interactions with hot oncologists to life-threatening hospital stays to a really bad case of glandular fever. Whether a diagnosis is life-altering or treatable, a total surprise or painfully invisible, The Emma Press Anthology of Illness explores what we wish people knew about being ill, and whether finding that ‘new normal’ is ever possible.

With poems from Cassandra Atherton, Sharon Black, Astra Bloom, Samara Bolton, Constance Bourg, Rachel Bower, Emily Brenchi, Sue Burge, Jane Burn, Louisa Campbell, Stephanie Conn, Marc Darnell, Marian Fielding, Charlie Fitz, Lucy Fox, Helena Goddard, Rhiannon Grant, Paula Harris, Holly Magill, Gillian Mellor, Ruth Middleton, Rebekah Miron, Jess Redway, Hollie Richards, Sam Rose, Mollie Russell, Jane Salmons, Deb Scudder, Helen Seymour, Mairi-Claire Traynor and Alison Winch.

‘Generous, open-hearted and frank’. Glass Magazine

“While fully exposing the humanity and vulnerability of its speakers, The Emma Press Anthology of Illness also shows how they assert themselves with confidence and strength in the most difficult situations, and respond to physical as well as mental challenges again and again and again with admirable resilience and even grace.” Sabotage Reviews

“This is a fiercely populated anthology, full of poets who are dedicated to always insisting on complexity, while never denying the power of simple words.” Karl Knights, The North Magazine

Read an interview with editors Amy Mackelden and Dr Dylan Jaggard in The Rumpus:

Rumpus: As I work my way through the anthology I find poems about a breadth of experiences including mental health, COPD, Crohn’s disease, and eating disorders. I’m always surprised by how different they each are, but how so many common sites seem to be circled again and again in terms of stigma, accessibility, and the failures of the medical establishment. Were you surprised to find these shared threads running through such a variety of poems?

Jaggard: The interesting thing for me was the fact that a lot of the poems were about other people’s reactions to an individual’s condition. That could be family members, society in general, but also the medical profession. The “medical gaze” in particular was a theme that recurred, and this was very interesting.

Mackelden: I hadn’t really realized before Dylan flagged it that illness is often viewed through a medical lens, which is why it was so exciting to read poems that flipped the “medical gaze.” I didn’t expect so many of the poems to reclaim a patient’s power, and objectify the doctor or medical practitioner as a result.’

More here!

Additional information

Dimensions 12.3 × 18.4 cm

Print, eBook

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