Physical pain, on the page as in life, can paradoxically feel as universal and essentially human as it feels intensely private, subjective, even unshareable. Fiction workshops borrow the language of bodily suffering mostly to access a story’s emotional or psychic injuries; but when it comes to literal pain, we often steer around it toward metaphor or focus on its aftermath instead. How might we approach writing physical pain itself, without reducing it to gore or aestheticizing it beyond recognition? Alvar discusses works by Erens, Machado, and others in search of ways and reasons to deal directly with pain in our own prose.
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