Therese Estacion survived a rare infection that nearly killed her, but not without losing both her legs below the knees, several fingers, and reproductive organs. Phantompains is a visceral, imaginative collection exploring disability, grief and life by interweaving stark memories with magic surrealism.
Taking inspiration from Filipino horror and folk tales, Estacion incorporates some Visayan language into her work, telling stories of mermen, gnomes and ogres that haunt childhood stories of the Philippines and, then, imaginings in her hospital room, where she spent months after her operations, recovering.
There is a dreamlike quality to these pieces, rivaled by depictions of pain, of amputation, of hysterectomy, of disability, and the realization of catastrophic change.
Estacion says she wrote these poems out of necessity: an essential task to deal with the trauma of hospitalization and what followed. Now, they are demonstrations of the power of our imaginations to provide catharsis, preserve memory, rebel and even to find self-love.