Kimmel Foundation Awards - Literary
As a surgical technologist, assisting in open-heart surgery, I spent three years with my hands inside the bodies of strangers. I’m interested in encounter and connection. I engage the medium of poetry to try to understand what it is to know and not know another, in violence (the opening of the body with a knife, even in a gesture of healing) and in love (and the despair of loss).
My earlier experiences working in heart surgery continue to influence my writing and I find myself interested in painters that paint bodies but work at the border between figurative and abstract art, painters like Chaim Soutine, Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, and Jenny Saville. These painters work to make art that gets right up on the nervous system (as Bacon would say). They depict bodies not just in scenes nor as static subjects but as experience, as sensation. In my own work, I continue to write about injury, loss, and recovery in terms of the relationship between time and material, representation in art, as well as what might be said of love and renewal in our material, passing world. –Mary Hickman