R122. The Body’s Story: On Writing Narratives of Illness

Room 5 & 6, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
Thursday, March 8, 2018
9:00 am to 10:15 am


When a writer’s body asserts its story, the writer must respond. How can we truthfully represent illness on the page? What are political and philosophical concerns, particularly when readers might expect a “cure” or other reassuring resolution? Nonfiction writers talk frankly about composition process, and suggest authors for further investigation and modeling. This panel addresses practical realities of navigating teaching and publishing as a writer with disability, disease, or chronic illness.



Sandra Beasley is the author of four books, including Count the Waves, I Was the Jukebox (Barnard Women Poets Prize), and Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, a memoir. She was a 2015 NEA fellow in poetry. She teaches with the University of Tampa low-residency MFA program.

Sonya Huber is the author of three books of creative nonfiction: Opa Nobody, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir, and Pain Woman Takes Your Keys as well as a textbook, The Backwards Research Guide for Writers, and the book The Evolution of Hillary Clinton. She teaches at Fairfield University.

Suleika Jaouad is the author of the "Life, Interrupted" column and video series in The New York Times, which earned her a 2013 News & Documentary Emmy Award. She has also written for The New York Times Magazine, NPR, and Vogue. Her first book, Between Two Kingdoms, is forthcoming.

Porochista Khakpour is the author of the forthcoming memoir Sick, and the novels Sons & Other Flammable Objects and The Last Illusion. She received fellowships from the NEA, Ucross, Yaddo, and more. She writes for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, WSJ, VQR, and more.

Esmé Weijun Wang is the author of the novel The Border of Paradise, and was chosen by Granta as a Best of Young American Novelists in 2017. She received the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize in 2016, and has written essays for publications including The Believer, The New Inquiry, and Salon.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center