Wednesday March 15th was book release day for Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371. I was grateful to spend the day with Ann Fox at Davidson College, outside of Charlotte, NC. She could not have been a better host or more excited about the day. (There were mani/pedis, there was sushi, there was cake, there was champagne. Ann is an amazing.) It was completely appropriate that I be with Ann. In May of last year, I was hiding in seclusion in Michigan, desperately trying to finish edits to the book, which included a new ending. I had two in mind, but wasn’t sure which to choose. I was making myself nuts. Luckily Ann happened to be coming to Chicago so I drove in to meet her for lunch, and introduce her to the young dog serving as The Intern through the editing process.
Over that lunch, Ann helped me realize the two endings I thought I wanted could actually be one. Her confidence in my process was just the boost I needed. Ann graciously summarized our personal history yesterday before she introduced my public lecture here at Davidson,
“I’m not sure when I first met MK Czerwiec, or rather, I met her for the first time twice, both times equally significant. The first time was in her hometown of Chicago; I was at a disability art exhibition in May 2013 called Humans Being II, and came upon watercolor studies of HIV/AIDS Unit on which MK had worked in the early 1990s. I was team-teaching Representations of HIV/AIDS at the time, and I was riveted by their beauty, as well as the history of HIV/AIDS they were documenting. It was also my first encounter with graphic medicine, an encounter that solidified into a meaningful connection when I met MK when we were both presenting at the New York Academy of Medicine in October 2014.”
Ann is a scholar of disability studies, and I was fortunate enough to hear her give a short talk on the power and possibility of imagery about disability.
I spoke with two classes at Davidson College, a biology of HIV/AIDS class that had read Taking Turns and also in Ann’s Graphic Medicine course, who had also read the book. After Ann’s class, we had lunch with some of her eager, bright, talented students in the dining hall. This made us feel especially cool.
Here are their course texts in the campus bookstore. This brought my heart great joy.
I’m incredibly grateful to Ann and her colleagues at Davidson College for the warmest, kindest, and most supportive welcome – book launch day – that I could have possibly experienced.