Therese Estacion survived a rare infection that nearly killed her, but not without losing both her legs below the knees, several fingers, and reproductive organs. Phantompains is a visceral, imaginative collection exploring disability, grief and life by interweaving stark memories with dreamlike surrealism.
Taking inspiration from Filipino horror and folk tales, Estacion incorporates some Visayan language into her work, telling stories of mermen, gnomes, and ogres that haunt childhood stories of the Philippines and, then, imaginings in her hospital room, where she spent months recovering after her operations.
Estacion says she wrote these poems out of necessity: an essential task to deal with the trauma of hospitalization and what followed. Now, they are demonstrations of the power of our imaginations to provide catharsis, preserve memory, rebel and even to find self-love.
Praise for Phantompains:
“Phantompains is a text of rare power, birthing a brave new world flush with pain, lust, drugs and the uterus. Estacion’s ‘Eunuched Female’ is a masterpiece: utterly indelible.” —Tamara Faith Berger, author of Queen Solomon
“I love Therese Estacion’s book. I love its humour, clarity, irreverence, and rage. It’s not a book about triumph (though she has triumphed), or perseverance (though she has persevered), or courage (though she has it). To me, it is a book about vision and reckoning, descent and return. Therese Estacion plunged into an abyss—found suffering, dehumanization, terror—and when she emerged, she chose to make radically confrontational art. Phantompains is the cosmic result of her dwelling, and her passage. In her words, “she became the subject”—I think she also became the seer.” —Sara Peters, author of I Become a Delight to My Enemies
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