Former Whidbey resident captures facial reconstruction history in new book

Former Whidbey resident Ann Gerike recently completed her new work, “About Face: World War I Facial Injury and Reconstruction.”

The book, consisting of 21 poems and an introduction of the Western Front, features a historical take of facial reconstruction from World War I on.

Facial injuries were common in trench warfare and surgeons had to learn quickly how to operate with success. The book catalogs the conception of the art of facial reconstruction in poetry and prose.

Seven years ago Gerike began studying photographs of soldiers who had undergone facial reconstructive surgery.

Gerike first became interested in the subject because her mother underwent facial surgery in 1925. It was successful and when she learned that her mother’s surgeon was the head of facial reconstructive surgeries for American troops in 1917 and 1918, she realized operations during war time must also have been successful.

“I used to be a knee-jerk pacifist,” said Gerike in a press release. “War bad, peace good. It was the photographs and case notes that broadened my understanding and stimulated my compassion for the suffering of these men, and allowed me to create stories for them in the poems.”

Gerike now lives in Maryland, but wrote the majority of her book in her Coupeville home of nearly 10 years.

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