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Disease Is a Mirror: A Lyric Memoir


Artistic, reflective, mysterious—Disease Is a Mirror poetically illustrates the dreamlike absurdities of a sudden illness and the tender nerves that it plucks.

Interweaving imagery and prose, Disease Is a Mirror explores illness, identity, intimacy, and the evolving self. Greenquist initially chronicles, and then artfully abstracts, her story, opening “the mirrored door” to the elusive realities of a life-changing diagnosis. Her narrative shows us that a diagnosis is not merely a clinical timeline; it is snails and rabbits, code and lab coats, love and clumsiness. Like an exquisite corpse, Disease Is a Mirror invites readers to explore its intricate and unconventional intersections, each reflection carefully curated; each void, a devastating erasure.  


Disease Is a Mirror is available anywhere you read eBooks, including many libraries. If you're new to this format, scroll down for an eBook FAQ.
Disease Is a Mirror was published by She Writes Press, a division of SparkPoint Studio, LLC. Cover and interior design by Tabitha Lahr. 

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Help Disease Is a Mirror Reach Those Who Need It

My hope is that Disease Is a Mirror reaches those souls who need it. If you enjoyed reading it, you can help the book find more readers by giving Disease Is a Mirror a rating/review on the app you used to read it and on Goodreads.

Also consider sharing Disease Is a Mirror with a loved one who finds themselves in the sudden chaos of illness, caregiving, uncertainty, upheaval. See the eBook FAQ if you or they are new to eBooks.


Excerpts of Disease Is a Mirror, narrated by Emily Greenquist, are available on YouTube.

Watch more: Disease Is a Mirror playlist

Excerpts of Disease Is a Mirror were published by Syracuse University’s Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature and Nebulous Magazine

The Student

I lay on a high table, likened to a padded corpse presentation trolly, shivering and pants-less, under many blankets, and watched as two people broke heating packets and then piled them onto my socked feet, checking my temperature with each added layer. They walked away twice to get more. My naked limbs had to warm to at least 91°F before they could complete the Electromyography / Nerve Conduction Velocity (EMG/NCV) procedure, which would later definitively rule out a pinched nerve.

Finally at temperature, the Technician repeatedly jabbed and twisted a magician’s wand-length needle into various parts of my exposed lower half, explaining my reflexes to the Student. This needle was a microphone, generating and recording the sounds it inflicted in my body. The Technician and the Student listened to the click, clicking electrical impulses and the thunderous electro-shocked nerves, while pointing at a monitor displaying wavelengths.

The Student complimented my engagement ring as “unusual,” a garnet, and in a cold sweat, a limb recently descended from a forced shock, I answered “thank you.”

Click here to read the rest of this excerpt at Syracuse University’s Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature.

Early July 2019

It started with a dull pain in my left side; I rolled out of bed with it, and it gnawed at me. The pain existed where my waist dipped in, and then deep, further in, in somewhere previously unknown to me. I assumed I slept on my side wrong, unconsciously contorting my body in such a way that my age (39) was beginning to show or maybe we just needed a new mattress. The pain grew over days and weeks. At the office, when I stood and spoke to colleagues, I found myself squeezing my left hand to my left waist and slightly bending down, folding, a conversational crumpling over. In the evenings and weekends, I lay on the couch for hours, buried under covers and watching back episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race, while I waited for this mystery side pain to go away already. I dismissed the pain’s significance like I would a lingering cold; as the discomfort intensified over time, I simply grumbled to my husband, Pete, and I napped about it.

Click here to read the rest of this excerpt at Nebulous Magazine.

Editorial Reviews




"In her revealing memoir/art project Disease Is a Mirror, Greenquist pursues both the idiosyncratic experience of a body and mind receiving diagnosis and proceeding with a new self, and the universal anxieties of a body and mind that refuse to conform. The book moves freely between exposition, dreams, comedy, art praxis, and textural metaphorizing. Greenquist makes her experiences into a kind of sphinx—that chimerical creature who riddles her way to an utterly inimitable vigor." 


Olivia Cronk, poet and author of Womonster and Louise and Louise and Louise

* * *

"Emily Greenquist’s Disease Is a Mirror is a heterogeneous assemblage: image, language, diagram. It is confessional, epistolary, and scientific. And, like the collages and exquisite corpses filling up its pages, Greenquist’s book is a bricolage that gestures at the self’s indeterminacy and at the fixedness of that self as a remembered thing. Is the self, then, an obscured history? Or, as Greenquist writes, ‘I can never know the start of my story . . .'"

Philip Sorenson, poet and author of Work Is Hard Vore and Solar Trauma

* * *

"Disease Is a Mirror is a startling and humorous portrait of pain. Sharing her journey to diagnosis, Greenquist brilliantly weaves the scars from her past with the wounds of the present, selflessly baring all. Her story becomes a poignant snapshot of humanity, revealing not just her mirror but leading us to our own."

Rebecca Schoenecker, artist and author of The Colorful Tears Tarot and The Shadowspeak Oracle Deck

* * *

"The softly stunning Disease Is a Mirror is a rare gem, a deeply personal artifact, a glimpse into the soul. With unshakable tenderness and a characteristic winking eye, Emily Greenquist weaves a tapestry of her own artworks, family history, and explorations of physical and emotional wellbeing. This remarkable book—guiding us into the looking glass of illness to find dignity, humor, and humanity—is a work of art to hold close, like a treasure."

Alexander Utz, playwright of Arabia, Arabia! and The Creators


eBook FAQ



What’s an eBook? Is Disease Is a Mirror an eBook?

An eBook is a book that’s available electronically. eBooks can be read on your phone, tablet, e-reader, or computer. Disease Is a Mirror is an eBook; it’s not available in other formats (like audiobook or paper copy). 

How do I purchase Disease Is a Mirror and other eBooks?

Go to a website that offers new books (most offer eBooks) and search for Disease Is a Mirror. Add it to your cart and make your payment. After you purchase the eBook, use that store’s free app for reading eBooks on your phone, tablet, e-reader, or computer. Purchased eBooks are yours to keep and you can reread them whenever you want. Here are some common examples with links:

Is Disease Is a Mirror available for free?

Yes. If offered by your local library, Disease Is a Mirror can be temporarily borrowed using the library’s eBook app (example: Hoopla). You can also read short excerpts of Disease Is a Mirror at Syracuse University’s Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature and Nebulous Magazine.

Can I gift Disease Is a Mirror after I bought it for myself?

Yes. Each store handles this process slightly differently. In all cases you need to know the email address of the person receiving the eBook. Here are steps for commonly used stores: ​

What's the best way to read/view Disease Is a Mirror?

It’s suggested that you read Disease Is a Mirror on a screen or device that displays color images. Outside of that suggestion, the best way to read/view Disease Is a Mirror is… however you want: zoomed in or out; with or without line spaces; it’s up to you. 

If you’re new to eBooks, you may prefer to read Disease Is a Mirror in “light mode” with white background and black text (instead of “dark mode” with a black background and white text), so it looks more like a print book. Apple Books, for example, defaults to match the light/dark settings for your iPhone or iPad. You can change this in the Apple Books app by selecting the menu icon in the lower-right corner > Themes & Settings > the sun/moon/circle icon on the right, and then select Light.

Have a question? Contact me

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