The Anatomical Venus
Taking its title from an 18h-century anatomical wax sculpture of an idealised woman, Ivory's fifth collection examines how women have been portrayed as `other'; as witches; as hysterics with wandering wombs; and as beautiful corpses cast in wax, or on mortuary slabs in TV box set... read full description below.
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||23 May 2019 by Faber Factory
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||By Ivory, Helen
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An Anatomical Venus - which gives this book its title - was an eighteenth-century anatomical wax sculpture of an idealised woman, a heady mix of eroticism, death and biological verisimilitude. Venus could be opened up and pulled apart by all the men who studied her. She would give up her secrets the first time of asking. Helen Ivory's new collection The Anatomical Venus examines how women have been portrayed as 'other'; as witches; as hysterics with wandering wombs and as beautiful corpses cast in wax, or on mortuary slabs in TV box sets. A hanged woman addresses the author of the Malleus Maleficarum, a woman diagnosed with 'Housewife Psychosis' recounts her dreams to Freud, and a sex robot has the ear of her keeper. The Anatomical Venus imagines the lives of women sketched in asylum notes and pictures others shut inside cabinets of curiosity.
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Helen Ivory was born in Luton in 1969 and began to write poems at Norwich School of Art in 1997, under the tuition of George Szirtes. She won an Eric Gregory Award in 1999 and then disappeared into a field in the Norfolk countryside to look after two thousand free-range hens. When she emerged ten or so years later, she had two collections with Bloodaxe Books and had helped, with her own bare hands, to build several houses. She is a poet and artist, a freelance creative writing tutor and academic director for creative writing for continuing education at the University of East Anglia, an editor for The Poetry Archive, editor of the webzine Ink Sweat and Tears, and co-organiser with Martin Figura of CafA Writers in Norwich. She has published five collections with Bloodaxe Books, The Double Life of Clocks (2002), The Dog in the Sky (2006), The Breakfast Machine (2010), Waiting for Bluebeard (2013), and The Anatomical Venus (2019.) In 2016 she won best collaborative work at the Saboteur Awards for Fool's Gold a" A Tarot (Gatehouse Press) with artist Tom de Freston.