Poet brings controversial experiments to light through writing

Poet and teacher Kwoya Maples reads from her upcoming poetry book, “MEND,” Feb. 7 in the Guillot University Center Loft. Her book centers on three slave women that underwent experimental surgeries by gynecologist J. Marion Sims but written from their point of view.

While some poets use their work to express themselves, others use the medium to bring attention to the experiences of others.

 Poet and teacher Kwoya Maples visited the Guillott University Center Loft Feb. 7 to read from her upcoming book “MEND,” a collection of poems based on experiments performed on slave women by gynecologist James Marion Sims.

 In the book, Maples addresses the emotions of three women Sims experimented on: Anarcha, Betsy and Lucy. He conducted gynecological surgeries on more than 11 women who suffered from vaginal tears due to difficult childbirth.

 “A lot of history is watered down for various reasons, and this is one of those stories,” she said.

 Maples said despite Sims claiming to have healed Anarcha’s injuries, and performing 30 surgeries on her, this was never proven. Sims later went on to publish his research in medical journals, becoming known as the “father of modern gynecology.”

 Maples said a lot of research went into her writing, and she wanted to give the women voices they did not have. In the book, she writes in the point of view of the three women.

 “The person that is telling the story is the person with the power,” she said. “Their experiences were silenced. They were not even acknowledged.”

 Maples said there are currently three memorials dedicated to Sims in the U.S., located in Montgomery, New York City and Columbia, S.C.

 “I organized a protest at the statue in South Carolina, where I’m from,” she said. “I wish the statues were amended to show these women.”

 The release date for “MEND” is set for fall 2018. For more information and to read some sample poems, visit her website at kwoyafaginmaples.wordpress.com.