Crystal Hurdle

Writer, Educator, Artist

Virtual book launch Oct. 7th at 7pm.


Sick Witch, by Crystal Hurdle

“I’m going to get you, my pretty!” The enigmatic Sick Witch lures the narrator on a metaphoric/literal vision quest through the hallucinatory terrain of undiagnosed and undiagnosable medical afflictions in poems that playfully explore connections between physical and mental illness. Compelling “fever dreams” tackle disorders, from allergy to somnambulism, from retinal detachment to schizophrenia, from avian flu to ALS, beyond the insular country of the sickbed. Allusion becomes illusion in the blink of an eye, both in the sharp images and also with insight, revelation, confusion and fear — with a supposed control that advances then recedes, then does it again and again. Here are tales both grim and Grimm, complemented by “lessons” from other patients, and leavened through a series of Letters to an Insurance Adjuster, who may or may not be a good wizard. Disquieting images from myth and pop culture compel the reader to join in the dance down the yellow brick road. X may mark the spot, but is it malignant? Or does it lead to Health?

"In the era of AIDS, SARS, now Corona virus, Sick Witch is by twist and turn a harrowing journey through multiple and chronic afflictions, at one moment sad, funny and deeply ironic. Interrupted only by acerbic responses to the ‘Oz’ of the health insurance bureaucracy, Hurdle’s vision is sweeping, nay ‘soaring’ in its use of familiar literary and Hollywood icons and narratives to bridge the narrator’s rich, inner landscape while conveying the daily experience of a body ill-adapted to our environment."

Moira MacDougall, Poetry Editor, Literary Review of Canada

"The wicked witch of The Wizard of Oz is central: she is sickness personified, a “ravaged queen” whose “green face sours into a kiss.” Like Susan Sontag in Illness as Metaphor, Hurdle shows illness to be another kingdom (or queendom) where one both is and is not oneself, a paranoid land of doppelgängers, squatters, and “evil sister twins.” But in moments of recovery, the wicked witch back in her crystal ball, the speaker finds herself again in a “benign,” “sweeter” world."