SUNY Adirondack welcomes NYT bestselling author Meghan O'Rourke

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October 31, 2022

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'The Invisible Kingdom' author to speak as part of Writers Project series

QUEENSBURY, New York (Oct. 31, 2022) — SUNY Adirondack’s Writers Project series welcomes New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award nominee Meghan O’Rourke.

She will speak to a SUNY Adirondack audience at 12:45 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7. The public is welcome to attend this free event via Zoom or in the Visual Arts Gallery of Dearlove Hall.

O’Rourke’s latest book, “The Invisible Kingdom,” soared to the New York Times bestseller list. In it, O’Rourke draws from her experiences as a patient with chronic disease to examine the history of the Western concept of illness, ignorance surrounding difficult-to-understand medical conditions, and neglected populations.

Over a 10-year period, O’Rourke interviewed public health experts, doctors, researchers and patients, then wove the personal, corporate and industrial together in “The Invisible Kingdom,” an argument for systemic change in this country’s approach to disease.

“O'Rourke's work is important right now for many reasons. We're all concerned about our health during the pandemic, and O'Rourke's experience and research into 'hidden' illnesses can be life-changing,” said Kathleen McCoy, a professor in SUNY Adirondack’s English division and organizer of the Writers Project. “Her poetry, as well, speaks deeply of the body and its intricate connections to the ways we construct meaning in our lives.”

O’Rourke is also author of “Sun In Days” (2017), a collection of poems about the vulnerability of the human body; “Once” (2013), poems about loss, grief and illness; “The Long Goodbye” (2011), a look at mourning in a culture that doesn’t always handle grief well; and “Halflife” (2007), her debut collection of poetry that named a finalist for the Forward First Book Prize and the Patterson Poetry Prize.

O’Rourke is editor of The Yale Review; and a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Union League Prize for Poetry from the Poetry Foundation.

In the past, she worked as an editor at The New Yorker, Slate and The Paris Review. In 2008, O’Rourke’s mother died — ultimately prompting “Once” and “The Long Goodbye” and pushing O’Rourke to consider her own health.

“I launched into a years-long quest to understand what was wrong with me, talking to expert researchers and doctors and, most of all, to fellow patients,” O’Rourke said. “I learned I was hardly alone. There was a whole realm of sick people whose lives were being turned upside down … and most were being dismissed or told their illnesses were due to anxiety, or were psychosomatic. This didn’t make sense to the reporter in me. And so I began digging in to learning more, and what I learned changed the way I thought about my body, health and how our health care system might better serve patients and health care workers alike.”

Her journey led to being diagnosed with a tick-borne illness, hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, as well as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and autoimmune thyroiditis.

To hear O’Rourke speak as part of SUNY Adirondack’s Writers Project, log into the Zoom meeting or visit Dearlove Hall’s Visual Arts Gallery at the scheduled time.