Every Journal is a Plague Journal, by Raye Hendrix-Print Books-Bottlecap Press

Every Journal is a Plague Journal, by Raye Hendrix

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Raye Hendrix
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Prose, poetry, chapbook, 32 pages, from Bottlecap Features.

Every Journal is a Plague Journal is a window into the unique experience of navigating the world with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) that manifests primarily as hypochondria, especially during the rapidly changing world in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. These poems trace the ontological dizziness brought about by watching society suddenly adopt many of the behaviors it had previously considered aberrant as “best practices” in a pandemic-ravaged world: frequent temperature checks and hand-washing, the use of masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer, diligently disinfecting surfaces, avoiding large crowds, and self-imposed isolation are some of the most widespread behaviors that have become the new “normal” that have always been part of everyday life for the speaker of these poems.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, an obsession with one’s health and well-being is suddenly no longer reserved for the “germaphobes”—and yet, for the speaker of these poems, little about the way they interact with the world has fundamentally changed. This collection is an attempt work through those feelings of disorientation, isolation, and fear that were already present in pre-pandemic times, now amplified by the presence and realities of COVID-19.

In The Age of Hypochondria: Interpreting Romantic Health and Illness (2010), George C. Grinnell traced how the “disorder of imagined infirmity” came to haunt both at the individual and collective levels because it provoked so many anxieties about embodiment and the ways we think we understand it. As a work of crip poetics, Raye Hendrix’s Every Journal is a Plague Journal works through the haunting quality of imagined, possible, and very real illness as it is lived through at a moment of global pandemic crisis. Hendrix’s poems attend to how the seemingly innocuous nature of mundane things—soap, pens, highways—become charged with the anticipatory potentiality of infection and harm that persistently invade the speaker’s psychic space, already turgid with other anxieties both social and political. The documentary quality of Hendrix’s work speaks to the very title of the collection and the lived experiences of hypochondria and OCD—that in retrospective encounters, what may have seemed unrelated to illness may in fact have always already been in proximity to it and perhaps discovered all too late.”

-Travis Chi Wing Lau, author of The Bone Setter (Damaged Goods Press, 2019) and Paring (Finishing Line Press, 2020)