Maggie Dubris is a writer and composer in New York. She has published and performed widely. On Sholem's Bias, I talked to her about her new book, Brokedown Palace. I'll let her describe it:
"For 24 years, I was a 911 paramedic at St. Clare’s, a small hospital in Hell’s Kitchen. I worked during the dawn of AIDS, the influx of crack, and the most violent years the city has experienced. My hospital had the highest percentage of homeless patients in the city in the 1980s. In 1985 we established the first AIDS unit on the east coast.
Broke-Down Palace is the story of the city as seen through the lens of one poor, unsupervised institution. It begins in 1934 with the founding of the hospital by a penniless Irish nun in the depths of the Great Depression, and follows the course of its existence until 2007, when it was shut down, flipped a few times, and turned into luxury condos.
The book is structured as a series of linked poems; a memory palace. In addition to exploring the story of the hospital, I am interested in what happens to memories. What becomes a part of history, and what doesn't? If I took part in historical events, e.g. the AIDS plague, the attack on the World Trade Center, can I turn the historical narrative into one that actually reflects my experiences?"
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