I was reading an essay yesterday by Joyce Carol Oats in which Oats offers that confessional poetry has been replaced with what might be called the memoir of crisis. I find interesting her supposition that current literary culture is obsessed with memoirs. Getting into the meat of the essay I was taken by surprise at her mention of Lucy Grealy, author of Autobiography of a Face. I read this book a number of years back as well and her second book, As Seen on Television and found her to be a an exceedingly talented writer. What really took me by surprise was the mention of her death. For some reason this was totally off my radar. I had not knowledge whatsoever.
Grealy’s first book was a memoir of the sad and tragic life – a victim at an early age of a rare form of cancer of the Jaw, she was greatly disfigured through the illness and subsequent multiple surgical procedures. But for all that the young girl endured, her candor and ability to express herself was a gift to all who read her words.
Lucy Grealy was also a poet, and after reading her second book I went looking for any poetry I could find published. My efforts at the time fell short. I could find nothing. Today I was able to locate two lines attributed to her. They are profound. Somewhere there must be other gems.
“When I dream of fire / you’re still the one I’d save / though I’ve come to think of myself / as the flames, the splintering rafters.” - Lucy Grealy