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Associate Professor at Appalachian State, Chris Osmond was recently co-published in Et Alia Press’s Scars: An Anthology. Regarding his essay, “The Thousand Natural Shocks,” Chris says: “I am especially interested in the role of personal voice and reflective writing in professional formation, so the opportunity to prepare this submission presented a welcome chance to bring ‘who I am to what I do,’ as Parker Palmer says. Before coming to Boone, Professor Osmond was appointed for four years to the Department of Social Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, where he became interested in Rita Charon’s exciting ‘narrative competence’ work and began facilitating reading groups among doctors and nurses in the Maine Humanities Council’s ‘Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare’ format.”

Here’s an excerpt from  “The Thousand Natural Shocks,” which will appear in Et Alia’s Scars: An Anthology, edited by Erin Wood.

   “My scars are twinned: alopecia universalis for nearly twenty years, coupled with the traces of a dozen removals of dysplastic nevi over thirty.

              Standing naked, the latter are drawn on the hairless canvas of the former, presence and absence, figure and ground. The scars are mostly shallow pits,                     round craters on the moonscape of my neck and abdomen. The dip between my shoulder blades holds a welter of angry snarls, though, poisonous pink                     rivers in a barren valley.

              In brief: I am hairless as a guppy, and have had a lot of moles removed. One without the other would diminish the impact, but taken together they make me               a formidable presence in the gym, at the pool. Sudden, hulking whiteness, the lack of eyebrows giving my eyes startling intimacy to yours. Leaves you                       uneasy about where and how my face emerges, or doesn’t, at the peak.”

Professor Osmond is interested in organizing an event at Appalachian State sometime this spring that includes a reading by Scars contributors, or a larger narrative-focused event that included a Scars reading. Professor Osmond hopes to position a reading here as a way to bring folks together from all across campus, to realize what the power of narratives of suffering and healing could mean for their work.

For Prof. Osmond’s personal website, visit


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