Black Lung

9 x 12, 2011

Thinking about the struggles of my home state, I began to explore the consequences of destructive environmental practices that extend beyond the land to human casualties.  Black Lung is a poem about black lung disease, a deadly consequence of working as a coal miner. I used the emblem of the respirator to signify the dirty air that miners breath into their lungs, often because the respirators are too uncomfortable to wear because they are cumbersome and impede their ability to perform their jobs.  The structure of the book mimics the action of digging because there are layers that need to be peeled back the deeper you go into the book.  Once you dig all the way through, you find fresh clean air among the laundry lines.  This represents the struggle to dig back out of the suffocating symptoms of black lung disease to find fresh air, or health.  Sadly, for most afflicted with the disease, the only way to find relief is in death, which is what, for many, finally makes it a lovely day to go into the ground.

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