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Quarantine :: Contagion

Quarantine :: Contagion

by Brian Henry

Part of our Arc International Poets series

Narrated by a man dying of the plague, Quarantine is a book-length poem that explores sexuality and subjectivity as well as the viability of narrative itself. Lying in a field beside his dead wife and son, the narrator describes the events leading up to his and his family's death.

The poem is ostensibly set outside London in 1665, during the bubonic plague, but the motives of the narrator eventually cast doubt onto his story, as does the fact that plague victims often become delirious and may lapse into a coma before death. His story accumulates via accretion and contradiction, complicating his attempts truthfully to describe his life. To counter-act the narrator's hold on the story, ten passages, written in the third person, are interspersed, providing an objective vantage point. After the narrator finishes his story, Quarantine undoes itself in Contagion, which mirrors 'distortedly, and in reverse' the narrative.

ISBN: 978-1904614-73-9 (pbk), 978-1906570-13-2 (hbk)

Dimensions: 138 x 216
Pages: 80
Published November 2009