Here lies a list of literature (& other bits & bobs) that features the body and/or the way it fails us. This is by no means an exhaustive list and is presented in no particular order. If you have something you think belongs on this list, please contact me through the form below. I would like to continue updating this list as a resource for readers, writers, and teachers.


On Being Ill (with Notes from Sick Rooms by Julia Stephen) Virginia Woolf, Paris Press

Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag, Picador

The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk, Penguin Books

Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System by Sonya Huber, University of Nebraska Press

Detailing Trauma: A Poetic Anatomy by Arianne Zwartjes, University of Iowa Press

Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002 by Sharon Olds, Knopf

Milk & Filth by Carmen Giménez Smith, The University of Arizona Press

Gnawed Bones by Peggy Shumaker, Red Hen Press

Hemming Flames by Patricia Colleen Murphy, Utah State University Press

Beautiful Flesh: A Body of Essays edited by Stephanie G’Schwind, University Press of Colorado

The Haywire Heart and Other Musings on Love by Rachel Neff, Finishing Line Press

Hold me Gorilla Monsoon by Colette Arrand, A Bad Penny Review 

How to Prove a Theory by Nicole Tong, Washington Writers’ Publishing House 

Shopgirls by Marissa Higgins, Headmistress Press

Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir by Sarah Fawn Montgomery, The Ohio State University Press (Forthcoming) 

Portrait of the Future with Trapdoor by Elizabeth Onusko, Red Paint Hill 

medi(t)ations by Emma Bolden, Noctuary Press

Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith, Graywolf Press

The Lesbian Body, Sinister Wisdom (Themed Issue 106)

The Body Distances (A Hundred Blackbirds Rising) by Mark Wagenaar, University of Massachusetts Press

A Portrait in Blues: An anthology of identity, gender & bodies. edited by jayy dodd, Platypus Press

In the Shadow of Memory by Floyd Skloot, Bison Books

Just Breathe Normally by Peggy Shumaker, Bison Books

blud by Rachel McKibbens, Copper Canyon Press

Every Room in the Body by Kerri French, Moon City Press

The Ghost Manada by Marci Nelligan, Black Radish Books

The Ninety-Third Name of God by Anya Krugovoy Silver, LSU Press

From Nothing by Anya Krugovoy Silver, LSU Press

Second Bloom by Anya Krugovoy Silver, Cascade Books

Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease edited by Holly Hughes, The Kent State University Press

I Watched You Disappear by Anya Krugovoy Silver, LSU Press

I Don’t Belong Here by Melissa Grunow, New Meridian Arts Press 

The Uninhabitable by Jesse Rice-Evans, Sibling Rivalry Press 

Brilliant Odyssey Don’t Yearn by Finn Menzies, Fog Machine

Planet of the Blind: A Memoir by Stephen Kuusisto, Delta

Jazzercise is a Language by Gabriel Ojeda-Sague, The Operating System 

Look Look Look by Callista Buchen, Black Lawrence Press 

Sonata: A Memoir of Pain and the Piano by Andrea Avery, Pegasus Books

Black Psalms by Troy Kehm-Goins, Troy’s Work Table Publishing

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, Graywolf Press

Questions in the Vestibule by Rachel Hadas, Triquarterly

Atlantis by Mark Doty, Harper Perennial

It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability by Kelly Davio, Squares & Rebels

Sarah – Of Fragments and Lines by Julie Carr, Coffee House Press

Tender Points by Amy Berkowitz, Timeless, Infinite Light 

Four Reincarnations by Max Ritvo, Milkweed Editions

Sick: A Memoir by Porochista Khakpour, Harper Collins

The Amputee’s Guide to Sex by Jillian Weise, Soft Skull Press

Empty Clip by Emilia Phillips, University of Akron Press

Marys of the Sea by Joanna C. Valente, The Operating System

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay, Harper

One More Theory About Happiness: A Memoir by Paul Guest, Ecco

To My Body by Steven Sanchez, Glass Poetry Press

Ova by Christine Stoddard, Dancing Girl Press

Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman, Hachette 

Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes by Anne Elizabeth Moore, Curbside Splendor 


“Infusion” by Shannon Sankey, Rogue Agent Journal

“Sordino” by Nisa Malli, Carte Blanche

“Amputation” by Trevor D. Ketner, Thrush

“Little Skin Teeth,” “Nociception,” “Lacunae One” by Chloe N. Clark, Hobart

“Counterfeit” by Liz Quirke, Southword Journal

“Insomnia: Triptych” by Mark Wagenaar, Narrative

“deciduous qween, IV” by Matty Layne Glasgow, Frontier Poetry

“Contortionists” by Nix Therese, The Blueshift Journal

“Status Update” by Sarah Stockton, Crab Creek Review 

“Seeing My Grandmother Naked” by Brad Aaron Modlin, Everyone at This Party Has Two Names 

“The Body As Found in Other States” by Erin Dorney, Reality Beach

“The Day We Lost Pet” by Chuck Young ; illustrated by Aniela Sobieski, Penny Candy

“My Tumor Looks Like a Sunrise on the MRI Scan” by Kristene Kaye Brown, Foundry

“I keep my kidney stones in a salt shaker” by John Allen Taylor, Booth

“Overgrown” by Umang Kalra, Tumblr

“I Absentia” by Emma Bolden, Diagram

“Curtained Off” by Anna Kahn, Dear Damsels

“Fat Boy” by Todd Dillard, Third Point Press

“Gangrene” by Mary Kate Crenny, Literary Orphans

“Springfield” by Sara Bess, Plenitude Magazine

“Blow it Back” by Carl Phillips, Poetry

“Lament” by Thom Gunn, Collected Poems

“A fourteen-line poem on healing” by Julie Carr, Poem-A-Day

“In the Surgical Theatre” by Dana Levin, American Poetry Review

“Scar” by Emilia Phillips, Poem-A-Day

“In the Waiting Room” by David Bergman, Poetry

“homage to my hips” by Lucille Clifton, Good Woman

“Let Everything Happen to You by Natalie Eilbert, Poem-A-Day

“Emergency Vehicles” by Kay Ryan, Poem-A-Day

“Against Dying” by Kaveh Akbar, Calling a Wolf a Wolf

“Autoimmune Attack” by AM Juster, Southwest Review

“The Humility of St. Teresa of Ávila” by Rochelle Hurt, Tupelo Quarterly

“Hypochondria, Least Powerful of the Greek Gods, pts ii & iv” by Emily Paige Wilson, Cotton Xenomorph

“To the Ghost” by  Cameron Alexander Lawrence, America Magazine

“Touching the Floor” by Max Ritvo, Poem-A-Day

“Quick Change” by Callista Buchen, The Offing

“Jane, Again: Variation Ciudad,” “Nothing to Down Her Here” by Elizabeth Spackman, Cosmonauts Avenue

“Incivility,” “Bone Stuff,” “What I’m Losing” by Jesse Rice-Evans, The Wanderer

“Love Is a Lesion on Your Brain” by Courtney Birst, Germ Magazine

“Phantom Itch” by Devin G. Kelly, Chronogram

“Poem from the fire escape” by Kelsey Ann Kerr, Stirring Lit

“During the Air Show, I Trembled Like the Windows” by Karen Schubert, Diode

“Abel, Almost Asleep in the Field” by Mark Wagenaar, Tupelo Quarterly

“Goat Hour Gospel (Such Salvage)” by Mark Wagenaar, The New Yorker

“Elegy I Pray is Not an Elegy (The Wound)” by Mark Wagenaar, Tupelo Quarterly

“The End” by Liu Xia, Four Way Review & Empty Chairs: Selected Poems 

“Childbirth,” “Self-Portrait with Optic Neuritis” by Kelli Russell Agodon, In Posse Review 

“Six Months after Contemplating Suicide” by Erika L. Sánchez, Poetry

“After Making Love in Winter” by Sharon Olds, Poetry

“Line” by Ananda Lima, Rattle 

“Portrait of the Clumsy Learning How to Dance” by Devin G. Kelly, Small Orange Journal

“My Mother’s Body” by Marie Howe, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time

“This Body Which is Water We Call Home” by Michael Schmeltzer, Waccamaw 

“We Know Nothing About Our Bodies, Be We Want To” by Paige Lewis, Waxwing Journal

“Museum of Your Faulty Body” by Paige Lewis, Tupelo Quarterly

“The Glimmering Creature” by Rachel Mennies, Waxwing Literary Journal

“Butterfly-Shaped Organ” by Emilia Phillips, Radar Poetry

“Ode to My Body” by Destiny O. Birdsong, The Adroit Journal


“The Skin You’re In” by Molly McCully Brown, The Yale Review

“Writing Women’s Pain: Part Two of a Roundtable: A Conversation with Alethea Black, Abby Norman, Esme Weijun Wang, Michele Lent Hirsch, Sonya Huber, Julie Rehmeyer,” Lit Hub

“The Narrative Messiness of Chronic Illness” by Ellen O’Connell Whittet, Ploughshares

“On Being an Ill Woman: A Reading List of Doctors’ Dismissal and Disbelief” by  Jacqueline Alnes, LongReads

“Drawing a Breath” by Kaitlyn Teer, Prairie Schooner (Vol. 90, Issue 2)

“The Body, Forever” by Kristen Arnett, Burrow Press

“Body Map: Mouth Cave” by Amber Sparks, Fanzine

“What the Body Knows” by Emily Stoddard, The Manifest-Station

“Swallowing” by Oliver Zarandi, Fanzine 

“What I Learned in Homemaking” by Jill Talbot, The Rumpus

“How to Begin” by Jill Talbot, Slice Magazine

“VaginAdvice: Addressing Your Vaginury Stories by Jené Gutierrez, CAP

“Mirror Pain” by Jessie Male, Guernica 

“Double Vision” by Ayanna Gillian Lloyd, Moko: Carribean Arts and Letters

“About the Human Hymen (Disambiguation)” by Emma Bolden, The Rumpus

“Butterfly” by Magin LaSov Gregg, Hippocampus Magazine

“The People This Body Has Housed” by Laura Kendall, Vela

“Instructions on Your Decay” by Cade Leebron, Midway Journal

“I am not crying in the gynecologist’s office…” by Tatiana Ryckman

“Losing Music” by John Cotter, Open Letters Monthly

“Marked” by William Bradley, Cleaver

“On Being a Writer Who Can’t Read” by James Tate Hill, Lit Hub

“Infinitely Concrete, Infinitely Metaphorical: In Praise of Oliver Sacks” by Laura Passin, The Toast

“Nudists Always Play Volleyball” by Emma Sloley, Catapult

“On Time,” “Ars Poetica #58” by Alexander Long, The American Journal of Poetry

“My Mother’s Body” by Mary Gordon, The American Scholar

If You, Too, Know the Words to “Super Bass” by Shannon McLeod, Joyland Magazine

“What Does It Mean to Heart This?” by Michaella A. Thornton, Midwestern Gothic

“Cervix” by Beth Duckles, Stoneboat Literary Journal

“Yesterday is a Wild Parrot” by David Rompf, wildness

“For My Father, Resurrecting the Ancient Rituals” by Vanessa Hua, The New York Times

“Frigid” by Jess E. Jelsma, The Rumpus  

“Pathological” by Susan Rukeyser, To-ska Magazine

“The Fat Girl’s Benediction” by Tabitha Blankenbiller, The Rumpus

“I Used to Be a Writer — Then I Got Sick” by Emma Smith-Stevens, Lit Hub 

“My Body Gossip Column” by Jay Vera Thompson, Proximity Magazine

“Fibromyalgia: Three Instances Of” by Jay Vera Summer, Luna Luna

“On Being Driven” by Kristen Millares Young, Moss Lit

“Do Audio Books Count As Reading?” by James Tate Hill, Lit Hub

“Exercise” by Brenda Miller and Julie Marie Wade, Punctuate

“Discovering my Gall Bladder” by Jacqueline Doyle, Under the Sun

“The Betrayal of Myself – My Miscarriage Experience” by Pamela Carter, Viva

“Virginia Woolf and the Language of Trauma” by Loren Kleinman, Ploughshares 

“Sick Woman Theory” by Johanna Hedva, Mask (a good list of Recommended Texts at the end)

“What Flannery O’Connor Taught Me About Chronic Illness” by Caroline McCoy, Electric Lit


“The Survivors” by Patrick Thomas Henry, Duende

“Weight” by Holly M. Wendt, Festival Writer 

“Point of Transference” by Shannon McLeod, Necessary Fiction

“With Gun” by Shannon McLeod, Tin House

“Her” by Zainab Omaki, The Ake Review

“Push/Strain” by Casey Guerin, F(r)iction

“Exit Strategies” by Amy Blakemore, PANK

“I Was Burning Before This” by Sarah Jane Cody, Necessary Fiction

“A Certain Woman” by Monet Thomas, Third Point Press

Other Media & Further Lists

Poetry & the Body: Disability Rights, curated by Meg Day

Sonya Huber: Fantastic List of Illness & Disability Memoirs & Essays

Visualizing Pain, Art in The New York Times

Gabrielle Andersen Los Angeles Marathon 1984

The Body in Art, MoMA

The Body, Artsy