A COLLABORATION WITH PHOTOGRAPHER LAURA STEVENS
The extended poem sequence Self-portrait without Breasts appears in full in my collection Excisions. Some of the poems also appear alongside some of Laura's photographs in Breastless, a pamphlet from Pighog Press.
I will be touring performances of these poems, with a digital exhibition of Laura's photographs. For more information about the project, keep an eye on Events, or sign up here to be personally notified of news. You can view short films of some of the poems in performance. A blog supports the project.
'As a teenager in the 1970s, when cancer was still taboo, I nursed my mother through the trauma of two radical mastectomies. My aunt and my first cousin developed breast cancer in the decades that followed.
When I reached my late 40s, the age at which my mother first had the disease, doctors told me I too had a high risk of breast cancer. I chose preventative bilateral mastectomy, without reconstruction. I also chose not to disguise my new flat chest.
Throughout the months of decision-making, surgery and recovery, I wrote a journal. I made plaster casts of my body. Laura Stevens took ‘before and after’ photos. Gradually, what had begun as my way of coping, evolved into a major creative project.'
'In 2006, Clare asked me to photograph her, as a way of remembering her body and to creatively aid her transformation through double mastectomy. Eighteen months later I photographed her again.
I have always been interested in notions of idealism and beauty in the female. For these sessions, my photographer’s eye and my feelings as a woman had to be equally engaged. Clare’s determination to accept and love her body through drastic change has been an inspiration to me. Her clear, powerful voice speaks across the prejudices of our image-obsessed society.
I wanted to capture the beauty, courage, loss and hope I saw in Clare, both before and after her operation.'