Karen EngleMedia arts professor Karen Engle will read from her new memoir at a launch event Tuesday.

Reading to launch professor’s memoir

A book reading and signing at Biblioasis Bookshop on April 18 will launch author Karen Engle’s first memoir, Chronic Conditions. Dr. Engle is a faculty member in the School of Creative Arts specializing in media arts and culture.

Engle’s latest book is a self-portrait of a woman with chronic pain, referencing literature, visual art, medicine, and the remembrance of things past.

In her memoir of a life lived in physical pain, Engle asks whether and how language can capture what it’s like to be in a body that appears to work from the outside, when its internal systems operate through an ad hoc assemblage of garbled messaging, re-routings, and shaky foundations.

Contrary to claims that pain obliterates language — long a trope of writing about illness — Engle contends that the person with chronic pain is not hampered by a scarcity of language, but rather its excess: enervation by the unending waves of utterance.

From a history of the word “chronic” and its shifting significance to meditations on multiple diagnoses and interactions with medical personnel, Chronic Conditions is a doctor’s case file through the looking glass of a creative writer, scholar, and patient. Engle explores, through medical research, literature, and art, how it feels to become attuned to the rhythms of perpetual and mysterious physical pain.

The launch event is free and open to the public. It begins at 7 p.m. at the shop, located at 1520 Wyandotte St. East.