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Patient History

Publisher: Ethos Books
  • Description
  • Praise
  • About the Author
  • “Patient history” is a medical term describing the method by which doctors gather information about a patient’s past and present conditions. Yet, how much of a patient’s history do doctors really know, and how much agency do we have in determining our own histories?

    Patient History is a whimsical exploration of the typically grim world of sickness and death. Woven from pop culture, fairytales, and East-meets-West childhood memories of growing up in Singapore, these fantasies are cotton candy sweet—osteoporosis becomes Singapore’s signature Chili Crab, a fistula transfigures into fairy, and organs are commemorated as a theme park.

  • “Tricia Tan’s glorious debut is nothing short of a dazzling showcase. Patient History dares to be many adventurous, teeming things—eye-poppingly and mind-bogglingly so. Still, all the disparate texts seat well, in an orchestral coherence that almost defies its own quiet, veiled logic. In this doctor-poet’s good hands, all detail is studied and measured; no language is left reckless or unturned. The reader is witness to the deep care that remains always attendant, this controlled experiment in lyric-narrative issuing its aesthetic intelligence with cool confidence, yet holding together such an array of important emotional truths. This is the most imposing, curious, sumptuous incoming to appear in a long time. Already a winning collection, Tricia Tan’s Patient History is a tour de force, no less.”
    Desmond Francis Xavier Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, Recipient of Singapore Literature Prize

    Patient History is a whimsical coming of age against the sobering backdrop of death and disease. Tricia Tan has a gift of drawing out sensory delight, and even wonderment, from the stark reality of ailing bodies. She subverts the conventions of a poetry collection by inviting you to join in her games of imagination through activity pages. You will find a refreshing antidote to despair at the brokenness of our world.”
    —Amanda Chong

    “A hospital ward becomes an aquarium, the body a rainforest, a mass in the womb a sun. These poems are equal parts whimsy, medical emergency and existential crisis. Here is art that marries mortality to beauty and fantasy as a way to discern, withstand, come to terms, offer comfort, courage, hope. Bewildering juxtapositions, pictorial interventions, haiku-esque summations of feeling; this is elemental poetry that strives to fulfil a fundamental purpose, drawing the spirit towards recovery, even transcendence.”
    Cyril Wong, poet and fictionist

  • Tricia Tan is a poet, doctor, and youth mental health advocate from Singapore. She is a winner of the Golden Point Award, a part of the Asia Creative Writing Programme, and a finalist of the Sing Lit Station Manuscript Bootcamp. Her writing has been featured on The Straits Times and, among others. Out of wards, she is an Orygen Global Youth Mental Health Advocacy Fellow and the founder of the Youth Mental Health Fellowship. She writes as a way of being patient with the history of others and her own.

ISBN: 9789811888311
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 116
Year Published: 2024
Size: 210mm x 148mm
Language: English