Praise for A Mind on Pain: “Pain rises like river water/claiming land not its own…” In these brave, moving, and harrowing poems, poet Gail Goepfert takes us through long years shut in her body by pain, seeking a diagnosis and searching for remedy in first Western, then Eastern, medicine and her own body’s wisdom. These unflinching and empathic poems speak to us all, most especially those women suffering from fibromyalgia (and they are mostly women) who have shared such a journey, and those who care about them. --poet Robin Chapman, author of the eelgrass meadow, Dappled Things, and One Hundred White Pelicans.
The relationship between pain and the afflicted body is represented with unflinching elegance and precision in Gail Goepfert's collection. These poems chart an ordinary tale with extraordinary compassion and urgency, as the poet persists in her desire to transform her body's story into language. Nimbly shaping free verse to each poem's requirements, Goepfert has created a collection any human with a body can appreciate. --Alice George, painter and author of This Must Be the Place
Sure as Dante’s Commedia traces his journey into the afterlife, so Gail Goepfert’s A Mind on Pain permits passage into the netherworld of pain and its reconstituting reality. Yet this is no allegory. Goepfert’s searing sequence of poems immerses the reader in a battle within—against pain, its deafening noise and all-consuming hunger for attention, alienation from her own body, indeed against fear and despair—as much as in the battle without—against callous and dismissive doctors, against elixirs, nostrums and needles, against intrusion and violation. In language that alternates between razor-sharp description, mordant humor, and piercing lyrical evocation—“The sun hurls itself at me, a fistful of amber”—Goepfert still finds moments of grace: Not cures, but respite in kindness, patience, gentleness, and respect. “My body—a glass harp / tapped and tuned / until it sings.” Indeed, A Mind on Pain chants, croons, and fairly hollers with artistry, troubled beauty, and valiant, resonant humanity. --Ralph Hamilton, RHINO editor-in-chief