January 14, 2019

I’m beginning this new year by continuing work on three projects: a novel about an Australian couple who fall apart after getting caught up in a gun massacre at the Guggenheim (which is emotionally heavy and spinning me out), an illness narrative about living with Meniere’s disease (which is a chronic illness that literally spins me out) and poetry responding to how dangerously ridiculous and ridiculously dangerous Trump is (and he is undoubtedly spinning us all out).

At the beginning of 2018 I was the Writer-in-Residence at the JM Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice, where I began researching and writing my new novel manuscript, The Guggenheim. You can read a bit about it here.

Writer in Residence delves into US gun culture’s far-reaching impact

Have you heard that Vincent van Gogh might have had Meniere’s disease? Being an inner ear imbalance disorder, the vertiginous strokes in his paintings and the fact that he cut off his own ear could make sense, but after much research and having lived experience of the disease, I don’t believe it. Still, interesting fodder for a novella! You can find mine in this issue of the Griffith Review‘s Novella Project:

https://griffithreview.com/editions/storied-lives-novella-project-v/

The novella is part of the larger illness narrative I’m working on, which so far includes essay and poetry as well. But is it a memoir? I still haven’t worked that out. Here’s one of the essays from TEXT:

http://www.textjournal.com.au/speciss/issue38/Johnson.pdf

I love thinking about the kind of work illness narratives do and I’m passionate about adding to the cannon of its literature. I’ve been to Oxford and Reykjavik to present at conferences on illness narrative and form. Here’s an adapted version of one of those papers – I rewrote it for the Sydney Review of Books to talk a bit about Shaping the Fractured Self: Poetry of Chronic Illness and Pain, which I conceived and edited and which just might be the most important work I will ever be associated with.

The Poem Exists First In The Body

If Trump hears the words, ‘You’re fired’ this year, will I stop writing poetry about him? It’s not really about him; I’m not damning him but his world-vision, and I will continue to do so. He’s made me a more proactive poet (but I won’t thank him).