Disrupting Breast Cancer Narratives: Stories of Rage and Repair

Winner of the Elli Köngäs-Maranda Prize from the American Folklore Society

Book cover reads Disrupting Breast Cancer Narratives Stories of Rage and Repair, Emilia Nielsen. Cover image is an abstract and decorative painting by Beth Stewart.
Painting for cover art: Beth Stewart

Emilia Nielsen explores graphic narrative, comics, and other media to critique breast cancer’s cultural impact. Focusing on the performance of patienthood and survivorship in disruptive narratives, Emilia Nielsen clearly argues that personal narratives have the power to ‘shift the public discourse’ from its long tradition of mystifying the disease.”

– Jane E. Shultz, Professor, Department of English, Indiana University

Emilia Nielsen impressively draws on, and enters in dialogue with, a wide range of recent scholarship addressing illness narratives and challenging mainstream breast cancer culture. Nielsen shows how the study of disruptive breast cancer narratives requires attention to the performativity of patienthood and resistance as well as to the entanglement of emotion, gender, and sexuality.”

– Stella Bolaki, Senior Lecturer, School of English, University of Kent
Photo by: Shawna Lemay

Body Work

Emilia Nielsen’s dermographic writing, language jottings traced against skin information, needle-points in a reader’s attention, sketch an understated wholeness through wonderfully swift word-refractions. These poems sketch an entirely contemporary form of body-sense.”

– Daphne Marlatt, Order of Canada, and George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Emilia Nielsen’s Body Work does not, thankfully, conflate body parts with words. Rather, she very skillfully embodies the words themselves to constitute a living inner body of language we can feel on the tongue and on the surface of the skin’s imagination. While the poetry in this book improvises a surface tension between ‘This body, that/is—isn’t—me’ it also reveals how thought can be layered through the poem’s own body, a kind of ‘dermapoeisis’ of corporeal mindfulness so tangible we flinch at the implicit needle. The writing in this book is thrilling.”

– Fred Wah, Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate & Governor General’s Award Winner

Winner of a Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry

Finalist for both a Lambda Literary Award and the League of Canadian Poets’ Pat Lowther Memorial Award

Book cover reads Body Work, Emilia Nielsen. The cover image shows a crowd walking past a deer designed by Jo Roueche.
Painting for cover art: Jo Roueche

Read and listen to the Femina Hodierna Collective’s Polish translation of an excerpt from Body Work.


Finalist for the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Memorial Award

Book cover reads Surge Narrows poems by Emilia Nielsen. Cover an abstract and decorative image by Leah Rosenberg.
Painting for cover art: Leah Rosenberg

Surge Narrows is gorgeously sensual and sharply precise—if we could taste it, this book would be salmonberry. It would be salt. To read these poems is to stand under a waterfall, letting the words rush like cold, clean water over the skin. A powerful debut.”

– Anne Simpson, Griffin Poetry Prize & Governor General’s Award Winner

Surge Narrows is a demonstration of a talented poet’s ability to inhabit a form, making its structural and thematic demands to be what allows the poem to thrive rather than inhibit it. In her debut collection, Nielsen is leaping along the craggy coastlines. Her ghazals boast stanzas of poignancy and specificity, contributing to an overall piece of stunning thematic adhesion.

– Richard Kelly Kemick, book review in The Fiddlehead