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"About the Work" with Amanda Gaines

In our "About the Work" series, Savannah Trent asks recent contributors for insight into their writing or for current sources of inspiration. Read Gaines's essay, "Save the Heart, Save the Girl," in SER Vol. 39.2.


In the 1981 film Possession, the titular character, Anna, becomes increasingly violent after miscarrying an unnamable essence in a subway. Many critics say her erratic behavior stems from the return of her husband, who she has been unfaithful to with a squid-like creature she birthed from the aforementioned miscarriage. But what struck me was something most critics seemed to miss: the significance of Anna’s physical loss. In this platform scene, Anna spins, wrists bent. She cracks a jug of milk against the wall, her eyes wide as high beams. She growls, grunts. She sings in shrieks. The soft parts of Anna slide down her legs in blood and milk and bile. She becomes “possessed” in her dispossession. Possession, here, manifests as ecstasy, as violent freedom. It appears as knowledge of hidden things. When I left the movie, I relished Anna’s denunciation of ascribed feminine roles in the hopes of becoming enlightened, embodied. Anna’s narrative spelled out what I knew but could not give voice to: a gutting allows. A gutting leaves scars, renames us. A gutting does not ask of God, What have you let happen?, but invites the darker, sharper sides of ourselves to speak: Never again


AMANDA GAINES is a PhD nonfiction candidate in OSU's creative writing program. She is the nonfiction editor of Into the Void. Her poetry and nonfiction are published or awaiting publication in The Oyez Review, Gravel, Typehouse, The Meadow, Into the Void, The Citron Review, Yemassee, Pithead Chapel, Redivider, Ninth Letter, and New Orleans Review.


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