The final project in my American Literature class involves health and history. I’m writing about lobotomy, and have chosen to re-read The Pest Maiden by Penelope Scambly Schott and choose one poem to focus on.
The Pest Maiden is Schott’s reflection on her family history, in particular her Aunt Jean who was lobotomized by Walter Freeman himself in 1954. In the course of my reading, I would like to share a few of Schott’s poems with you.
See this link from the University of Mary Washington for more information about Jean Heuser, Walter Freeman, Schott’s book, and the practice of lobotomy.
I should say to begin:
I never met Jean
I remember screaming
between rows of soy beans
digging my fingers
into dirt and shale
and needing even then
the pale worms
the generous sky
those furrowed fields
the unencumbered brain
Set of Watts-Freeman lobotomy instruments, circa 1950. Wellcome Library, London.
Schott, Penelope Scambly. The Pest Maiden: A Story of Lobotomy. Cincinnati, OH: Turning Point, 2004.
Citing this page:
Solomon, Alana. “The Pest Maiden: Rehearsal.” Ortolana Studio & Press. Ortolana Studio & Press, 14 Nov. 2016.