Patient. by Bettina Judd
by Bettina Judd
Bettina Judd's phenomenal debut poetry collection is about recovery in many senses: recovery of the subjectivity of several historical figures, through the recovery, reconstitution, and telling of their stories--among them Anarcha Westcott, Betsey Harris, Lucy Zimmerman, Joice Heth, Saartjie Baartman, and Henrietta Lacks, who were infamously 'patients' or subjects of inspection and 'plunder' by, among others, J. Marion Sims, the controversial gynecologist, and P.T. Barnum, showman and circus founder. Sims (and the speculum) and Barnum are the featured antagonists in many of these flawlessly empathetic poems, but an unnamed speaker who adds a contemporary voice to the lyric chorus implicates those in charge of her care during a present-day hospital stay at Johns Hopkins--suggesting the linkage of modern medical treatment to the traumas vulnerable Black women, enslaved and not, suffered at the hands of unethical scientists and physicians in earlier eras.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern California, Dr. Bettina A. Judd is an interdisciplinary researcher, writer, artist, and performer. She is an alumna of Spelman College and the University of Maryland and is currently Assistant Professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at The University of Washington, Seattle. She has received fellowships from the Five Colleges, The Vermont Studio Center and the University of Maryland. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in poetry. Her poems have appeared in Torch, Mythium, Meridians, The Offing, and other journals and anthologies, and she has performed for audiences at home and abroad.