Anne Boyer, "The Undying," with Johanna Fateman

September 27, 2019, 7:00 PM

143 7th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215

A week after her forty-first birthday, the acclaimed poet Anne Boyer was diagnosed with highly aggressive triple-negative breast cancer. For a single mother living paycheck to paycheck who had always been the caregiver rather than the one needing care, the catastrophic illness was both a crisis and an initiation into new ideas about mortality and the gendered politics of illness.

A twenty-first-century Illness as Metaphor, as well as a harrowing memoir of survival, The Undying explores the experience of illness as mediated by digital screens, weaving in ancient Roman dream diarists, cancer hoaxers and fetishists, cancer vloggers, corporate lies, John Donne, pro-pain "dolorists," the ecological costs of chemotherapy, and the many little murders of capitalism. It excoriates the pharmaceutical industry and the bland hypocrisies of "pink ribbon culture" while also diving into the long literary line of women writing about their own illnesses and ongoing deaths: Audre Lorde, Kathy Acker, Susan Sontag, and others.

A genre-bending memoir in the tradition of The ArgonautsThe Undying will break your heart, make you angry enough to spit, and show you contemporary America as a thing both desperately ill and occasionally, perversely glorious.

Anne Boyer is a poet and essayist who lives in Kansas City. Her honors include the 2018 Cy Twombly Award for Poetry from the Foundation for Contemporary Art, a 2018 Whiting Award in nonfiction/poetry, and the 2018-2019 Judith E. Wilson Fellowship in poetry at Cambridge University. She is the author of several collections of poetry, including the 2016 CLMP Firecracker Award–winning Garments Against Women and a book of fables, essays, and ephemera titled A Handbook of Disappointed Fate. Her memoir The Undying will be published by FSG in September.
Johanna Fateman writes regularly for The New YorkerArtforum, and 4Columns. She is co-editor of Last Days at Hot Slit: the Radical Feminism of Andrea Dworkin published by semiotext(e) in 2019.