Stories from the brainreels podcast guest: Lauren Marks

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Have you ever met someone you find weirdly magical? Like, even the circumstances of your meeting are weirdly magical. The first time you talk, there are dancing, mating squirrels and a family of wild foxes running through her yard. You’re at once thinking, “Why did it take me so long to find you?” and “How on earth did we actually meet?” and “Seriously, you have wild foxes in your yard?”

So started the podcast recording with the inimitable Lauren Marks. I was supposed to introduce myself to her by email. Cathy Sparkes and Sam Simpson at intandem in the UK (also rather inimitable and who you will meet on the podcast this Autumn) sent me her contact info. But I forgot to follow up. Lauren appeared anyway and introduced herself to me by email, also writing from the UK. This was shortly after I suddenly remembered her and was about to write to her. Do you see the weird and the magic thing going on now?

We sat down together over Skype recently–her on a sunny afternoon and me on a dreary morning–to record this podcast episode. I hope you’ll enjoy our conversation about aphasia, storytelling, regaining language (including gaining an awareness that perhaps there was language to regain), and Lauren’s fine work. There’s also a lot of laughing. A lot of laughing. Here’s a photo of Lauren after her second brain surgery, reflecting herself while reflecting on herself. (But knowing her, she could actually be reflecting on baby foxes, botany, or feminism.)

A portrait of a woman in mirror images, resting her head on her arms. One image shows a large scar across her skull from brain surgery.[Image description: A double portrait of a woman in mirror images, resting her head on her arms. One image shows a large scar across her skull from brain surgery.]

On the show, we talk about Lauren’s time in the hospital, a bit about her brain surgeries, aphasia, and art. If you want a more detailed, delicate, telling of the story of when her stroke actually happened, please watch the video below. It’s not just the story of the moment. It’s also a deep acknowledgement that, from the very first instant, it was the involvement of friends, family, and the medical team together that has brought Lauren to where she is today. She is an author, storyteller, and person who recognizes that some lofty idea of perfect, ideal, good, or healthy communication has nothing to do with the size of your vocabulary or the fluency of your language. The video is from The Moth storySLAM. The video has Closed Captions.

Please visit Lauren’s website at, which is named after her book to be released in 2016, “A Stitch of Time,”  by Simon & SchusterHop over there to learn more about her and her work, see images of her handwritten journal entries in the first year after her stroke, and hear her own recorded voice reading many parts of the site to you.

Click here for an accessible transcript of podcast episode #035.