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About the Book

Juxtaposing poems about historical and literary madwomen and their physicians with poems about unhappy young girls, unsettled new wives, and dissatisfied mothers, this collection explores how the social and domestic spaces women inhabit lead to legacies of insanity, as well as the fierce ways women react, resist, and regenerate.


"Regenerate: Poems of Mad Women by Sarah Fawn Montgomery is a mad, mad book. Mad with truth- telling, mad with beautiful language and striking metaphor. She says: 'I’m going to drop a limb/like a starfish leaves a leg/behind to appease a predator.' She says: 'when the burden of gender becomes unbearable.' This poet lays bare the cultural rituals of labeling women 'mad' and 'deficient'—busting open the tyranny of categories, the violence of tradition. A necessary book."
— Jan Beatty, Jackknife: New and Selected Poems
"'Lurch, prescription doll, body propelled, / emotion compelled back to normalcy.' From Daisy Buchanan to Chopin's Awakening, Sarah Fawn Montgomery interrogates and re-presents with a contemporary eye a variety of scenes where women have, one way or another, gone awry. As in, they have existed in disobedience. Noncompliant. This is not a catalog of conventional courage to applaud, but rather, is a series of 'unseemly' resistances that have been met with various 'cures' and even institutionalization. 'Woman' has been pathologized for so long, we are no longer certain if we're straying, resisting, or simply becoming what we want. But Montgomery sorts through, untangles and names these moments necessary on the path to self-actualization,'Speak now, Bertha—thrash and dance, leave mythmakers / wide-eyed at all you have done in spite of them.'"
— Amy King, author of The Missing Museum
"In Regenerate: Poems of Mad Women, Sarah Fawn Montgomery brings alive the victims of the Rest Cure, electroshock therapy, and other misguided remedies of fin de siècle psychology. These poems tell stories of women twisted open by the very cures designed to save them—and by the very men inflicting these cures. 'We're all mad here,' the women seem to say, but it's the dysfunction of society that's the real focus of Montgomery's piercing lens, the rottenness of a culture where any woman who does not submit is deemed dangerous. Montgomery's poems are like these women, at once fractured and beautiful."
— SJ Sindu, author of Marriage of a Thousand Lies
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