Jason Purcell's debut collection of poems rests at the intersection of queerness and illness, staking a place for the queer body that has been made sick through living in this world. Part poetic experiment and part memoir, Swollening attempts to diagnose what has been undiagnosable, tracing an uneven path from a lifetime of swallowing bad feelings--homophobia in its external and internalized manifestations, heteronormativity, anxiety surrounding desire, aversion to sex--to a body in revolt.
In poems that speak using the grammar and logics of sickness, Purcell offers a dizzying collision of word and image that is the language of pain alongside the banality of living on. Beginning by reading his own life and body closely and slowly zooming out to read illness in the world, Purcell comes to ask: how might a sick, queer body forgive itself for a natural reaction to living in a sick world and go on toward hope? In Swollening, Purcell coughs up his own poetics of illness, his own aesthetics of pain, to form a tender collection that lands straight in the gut.