Afflicted with sudden blind spots in her right eye, Maureen Thorson consults her doctor. Her diagnosis is AZOOR (acute zonal occult outer retinopathy), a rare condition that has no known cause and is surprisingly difficult to confirm. Because the afflicted eye appears normal, the problem cannot be directly observed—except by the patient herself.
Faced with the possibility she may lose her sight, Thorson goes looking for answers, reading and thinking her way through art history, science, poetry, folklore, myth, and film. She engages with Aristotle, who claims that menstruating women stain mirrors red simply by looking at them. She bristles equally at the romantic notion of the blind poet and the clairvoyant one. She desperately wants to assert control. “Writing can’t save you from going blind,” she acknowledges, but it “offers the reductive simplicity of narrative, with its seductive endings, tidy resolutions.”
Maybe. When authoritative sources turn out to be mistaken, what then? When oft-quoted wisdom is revealed to be apocryphal, can it still ring true? And when her vision mysteriously clears, as unexpectedly as it dimmed, can she even claim she’s been ill? Throughout the essays in On Dreams, Thorson finds herself repeatedly asking not only “what is reality?” but “whose reality?”
Maureen Thorson is a poet, publisher, and book designer living in Falmouth, Maine. She is the author of the full-length poetry collections Share the Wealth, published by Veliz Books in 2022, My Resignation, published by Shearsman Books in 2014, and Applies to Oranges, published in 2011 by Ugly Duckling Presse. She has also written a number of chapbooks, including Mayport, which won the Poetry Society of America’s National Chapbook Fellowship for 2006, and The Woman, the Mirror, the Eye, published by Bloof Books. Her poems can be found in many anthologies and journals, including Ploughshares, the Kenyon Review Online, and Bennington Review. Maureen is also the founder of NaPoWriMo, an annual project in which poets attempt to write a poem a day for the month of April.