Tender, loving and visceral, Ovarium is a pamphlet of poems about a giant ovarian cyst. The poet charts her journey with the cyst, from diagnosis to surgery to recovery, via a landscape of scanner rooms and hospital wards. The poems explore the impact of illness, and the body as a site of disgust and shame but also healing and endurance.
Ingham’s poems are forensic as she looks at the disorientating and sometimes patriarchal language of anatomy and medicine, and the way illness can change the relationship we have with our own bodies.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE EAST ANGLIAN BOOK AWARDS 2022
Praise for Ovarium
“‘I tried to think of you as fruit, growing/against the sun-warm wall of my gut.’ And so begins Joanna Ingham’s Ovarium, a piercing study of one woman’s diagnosis, the resulting fear, and then quest to understand the complexities of her own body. In poems that both surprise and inform, Ingham gives us the female body under threat, under examination, under male scrutiny, and refuses to censor or sanitise. The writing is beautiful, accomplished; each observation raw and moving. I dare you not to feel excited and enriched.” – Rebecca Goss
“This stunning and beautifully crafted pamphlet by Joanna Ingham reads a little like a love letter to a lost ovary. Ingham explores how sudden and unexpected illness can inhabit us, making us hyper aware of parts of our body we rarely pay attention to, and how hospitals (and medical professionals) while saving us can also dehumanise us – becoming both devil and saviour. A compulsive and exciting read.” – Julia Webb
“Reading Joanna Ingham’s Ovarium is a revelation. Imaginative, incisive and often disturbing, Ingham’s latest pamphlet unravels the hidden power, guises and secrets of women. It offers an original cartography of women’s bodies, mapping out the visible pains and triumphs as well as invisible taboos and trauma.” – Jennifer Wong
“Joanna Ingham’s Ovarium is irresistible and intimate; this is poetry of the body at its finest. It made me look at my own body anew and the mini ecosystems that make up who we are: cells, ponds, gardens, hospitals.“ – Nina Mingya Powles, Poetry Book Society pamphlet selector
“These are poems full of wonderful sounds, as well as being cinematically clear. There are plays with sounds that made me smile and immediately re-read.“ – Zannah Kearns, Sphinx Review
“Ovarium details a hard journey, but it is touching and tender and thoroughly engaging.“ – Hilary Menos, The Friday Poem
“Ovarium by Joanna Ingham was everything I wanted for a poetry collection about an ovarian cyst.“ – Lili