Book Review · English

The Emma Press Anthology of Illness – Honest, Vulnerable and Raw

What is the book about?

The Emma Press Anthology of Illness explores illness in all its forms, from invisible to treatable, from life-changing to threatening, from chronic to sudden ailments and from the hot oncologists to hospital visits. The Anthology gives voice to the people who have experienced and dealt with illness. It’s a close up and intimate view into their lives with illness.

My thoughts

Exploring a topic such as illness that is so wide-ranging and different for each person, I thought the anthology does a great job of shedding light on these often very specific experiences and gives each poet a place to tell their story. I loved the notion of the introduction that highlighted that even when life seems unliveable and messy, it does go on and these stories, experiences and journeys have every right to be told even when pop culture and society would like us to believe there is nothing worse than illness.

From the introduction of the editors, the first poem, the in-between to the last poem – the anthology is beautifully curated and put together! Each poet’s contribution is intimate, honest, raw, and entirely their own. It is evident that a lot of thought was put into the order of the poems. They flow together nicely and create a very genuine reading experience. The first and last poem that frame the anthology especially stand out and gave a powerful introduction and conclusion to this collection! Going into the book I hoped to also read poems about mental illness specifically as it is unfortunately still overlooked or not taken serious enough. And the anthology delivers! The range of illness the 31 poems cover is unbelievably diverse and nuanced. Additionally, I got to know a lot of poets I’ve never heard of before. It is so great to see that so many people have been given the chance in this great collection to invite the reader to learn, be present and maybe understand the struggles people with illnesses face a little better.

Personally, this anthology, as it doesn’t mince their words, felt important. First of all, it felt like a bit of comfort hug to me to know that we’re all struggling one way or another with the focus on illnesses. It puts a lot into perspective, and I have such huge respect for each of us that battle an illness. It is NOT easy, but life does go on. For those that are healthy or know someone that is currently battling an illness, a diagnosis etc. – this anthology might help you understand the other side.

I certainly came away from this book feeling vulnerable, compassionate, seen, understood and grateful.


            The Emma Press Anthology of Illness is a raw, intimate, vulnerable, and honest exploration of people grappling with the most different and difficult experiences, stories and journeys surrounding illness. It invites its readers to witness and understand that each life, no matter how messy or difficult, is worth living and being talked about. Illness doesn’t take that fact away.

If this topic is something that affects you personally, interests you or you want to learn more – this is the book for you! Its honesty might make you feel uncomfortable or vulnerable or seen or any kind of emotion really but I feel like most people will come away with more than they had or knew before.

I would also like to say thank you to The Emma Press for sending me a review copy of the Anthology of Illness. It has been a great pelasure to read and review this collection of poems!

One thought on “The Emma Press Anthology of Illness – Honest, Vulnerable and Raw

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