Poetry about migraines / headaches / chronic pain ?
October 26, 2007 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Poetry about migraines / headaches / chronic pain ?

Not too long ago, I came across writer Evelyn Lau's poem called "Migraine" in her most recent book of poetry, Treble. It was a refreshing shift of focus from the clinical details that I need to track when trying to get medical care for migraines and it was helpful to read words that creatively got at the crazy experience of this pain in a way that medication can't. Do you know of any other poetry that focuses or touches on migraines, headaches, or even chronic pain?

Thanks for your help.
posted by onoclea to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This was an English course that included personal essays, poetry etc all about people with disabilities. I went to the first class many years ago and was too depressed to stick with the course. The reading list might help you, though many seem to be essay collections.
posted by rmless at 1:53 PM on October 26, 2007

Oliver Sachs wrote a book on migraines. He writes some very interesting things and he has a deck of artist cards that detail their experience with headaches. There are many art shows and related creative endeavors that deal with chronic conditions. There is a headache institute out of Chicago that curated a migraine show a few years ago. Sorry, I don't remember the precise name of the place, but know you aren't alone and many creative people document their pain in their work (F. Kahlo springs to mind).
posted by 45moore45 at 3:04 PM on October 26, 2007

Two favorites by Emily Dickinson:

After great pain a formal feeling comes--
The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;
The stiff Heart questions--was it He that bore?
And yesterday--or centuries before?

The feet, mechanical, go round
A wooden way
Of ground, or air, or ought,
Regardless grown,
A quartz contentment, like a stone.

This is the hour of lead
Remembered if outlived,
As freezing persons recollect the snow--
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.

Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there was
A time when it was not.

It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.
posted by DaShiv at 3:13 PM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Another by Emily Dickinson: "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain"
posted by Orinda at 4:32 PM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also, try googling migraine poem. Migraine poem collections! Migraine poem contests! Who knew?
posted by Orinda at 4:37 PM on October 26, 2007

For you? Today? I write you a nice poem. It goes a-like thees:

It may have been the poppy seeds.
Perhaps it was the eggs.
But something in my hotel breakfast
knocked me off my legs.

This happened to me the last time
I broke my fast at a hotel.
Pulsing cords of white hot pain.
Right eye malfunctioning as well.

Please chop this forehead off of me.
Don't care how much you take.
I can't imagine a worse pain
submerged in Hell's deep flaming lake.

Then the nausea takes hold
but not because of stomach ills.
It's just disgust at this sick pain,
too immense for pills to kill.

Is there something in the hotel water
or something in the tea?
I can't begin to figure why
this morning horror falls on me.

So sorry, Mr. Speaker Man,
here to give your conference talk.
I must go sleep back in my room.
I hope I have the strength to walk.
posted by kookoobirdz at 8:26 PM on October 26, 2007

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