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“I am living in my own corpse”—the experience of tuberculosis in poems by A B Šimić

Abstract

This paper focuses on seven poems dealing with various aspects of his experience of tuberculosis and uncovers different shades of poetic self within his verses: the notions of self transforming from a helpless child to a ghostly, transparent creature in the secluded world of a hospital ward, and to decaying flesh and “living in a cadaver” are pinpointed. Poetry as creation is the opposite of physical demise; in poetry Šimić finds escape not from the inevitable end, but from suffering. These poems are not confessions of a sick young man; they are relevant works of art touching readers’ sensitivity and imagination. They may be relevant for medical professionals in enabling them to view disease—in this case tuberculosis—in a wider context and to be open to the many and different ways in which the experience of illness can be expressed.

  • pulmonary tuberculosis
  • expressionist poetry
  • literature and medicine
  • body/mind and soul relationship
  • attitude to disease
  • attitude to temporality/dying

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