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Toxemia by Christine McNair

Toxemia by Christine McNair


Essays / Prose Poetry / Memoir
Publication Date: October 1, 2024
6 x 8 inches
120 pages
Trade Paperback
ISBN 9781771669146

Trade Paperback

In this alchemy of anger and love, history and memoir, Christine McNair delves into various forms of toxicity in the body—from the effects of two life-threatening preeclampsia diagnoses to chronic illness, sexism in medicine, and the toll of societal expectations.

With catharsis and humour, Toxemia pieces together the complexities of identity, motherhood, and living in a body to share deeply recognizable raw truths through fragments, poems, and stories. McNair captures the wrenching feeling of loss of control in the face of an overwhelming medical diagnosis and the small, endless moments in life that underscore it: worrying about mortality in the middle of the night, revolving medical appointments, self-doubt, and all the ways in which illness interrupts.

Toxemia unravels the toxicities that haunt the human body from within and without. This hybrid work combines lyrical essays, prose poetry, photographs, and more to dip between the sacred and profane to expose—and hold —some of our greatest fears while reaching to mend what’s still possible to mend.

Praise for Toxemia

Toxemia is simultaneously a history in/of medicine, a feminist rallying cry, and a raw but scalpel-sharp work of poetry. A genre-blurring text that boldly bloodies lines between poetic and reproductive bodies, between archive and lyric, between manifesto and song, between autoethnography and free verse. A bodypoem flex.” —Sarah de Leeuw, author of Lot

“How much pressure can build in language before the story of women’s health blows apart? In Toxemia, Christine McNair tests the narrative as if it were a problem patient. She charts the events that bring her close to death several times with the skill of the most intuitive midwives and rigorous clinicians, though representation is not diagnostic. This is a beautiful etiological study.” —Elee Kraljii Gardiner, author of Trauma Head and Against Death: 35 Essays on Living

Toxemia is astonishing. It’s difficult to use positive adjectives for something so searing and widespread as toxicity as it is portrayed in this book, in all its forms. But what can be said is that we need this book. We need  ‘a pattern that is only legible’ to McNair. If nothing else, in this undetermined narrative, we may read our multiple selves, our own fragilities to systemic damage and unutterable forces beyond our control.” —Madhur Anand, author of Parasitic Osciliations

About the Author

CHRISTINE MCNAIR is the author of Charm (winner of the 2018 Archibald Lampman Award) and Conflict (finalist for the City of Ottawa Book Award, the Archibald Lampman Award, and the ReLit Award for Poetry). She was also nominated for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Her chapbook pleasantries and other misdemeanours was shortlisted for the bpNichol Chapbook Award. Her work has appeared in sundry literary journals and anthologies. McNair lives in Ottawa where she works as a book doctor.