Author: Ann Gerike
“The literal loss of face is a subject fraught with poetic implications, and threat. . . . Whatever else we may claim—about our souls, our spirits—at some deep level most of us see our bodies, and especially our faces, as our essential selves”—from the Introduction
We’re delighted and proud to publish Ann Gerike’s full-length manuscript, About Face: World War I Facial Injury and Reconstruction. In compassionate and powerful poetry and prose, About Face describes some of the thousands of forgotten facial reconstructions, many of them remarkably successful, performed at the Queen’s Hospital in England between 1917 and 1925, and the stalemated four-year trench warfare on the Western Front which produced most of the facial damage. Photographs.
“Ann Gerike’s collection would be remarkable enough for the sheer ambition of its project: to rescue the memories of thousands of World War I men whose battle injuries left their faces so disfigured, mirrors were kept from them, to be spared their ‘travesty of features.’ But don’t let this enormous accomplishment obscure the gorgeous craft of these lyrical, haunted poems. Each is a small gem, uncannily inhabited by a human presence–the mangled soldiers, yes, but also their bewildered wives and sweethearts, the artists who fashioned masks for gone faces, the surgeons who refused to give up.–Lorraine Healy
“The literal loss of face is a subject fraught with poetic implications, and threat. When the recognizable storefront is gone, how will others be able to know what’s inside? And even worse, unless you avoid mirrors and all reflecting surfaces, including the faces of others, how will you know yourself? Whatever else we may claim—about our souls, our spirits—at some deep level most of us see our bodies, and especially our faces, as our essential selves—from the Introduction.
Note: Photographs of the facial surgeries performed on Robert Davidson, Sidney Beldam, and Walter Fairweather on pp. 29, 30, and 32 are reproduced from the Archives of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
Learn more about About Face at www.aboutfacegerike.com.