Each poem in this collection is preceded by brief comments both by the author/patient and by her psychiatrist.  Together the poems chronicle incidents in the interior life of a woman who has lived with schizophrenia for 35 years, been hospitalized, changed doctors and medication, undergone intense feelings of isolation, and also has experienced remarkable support and love from a twin sister and a few loyal friends.  The poems range in tone from matter-of-fact tellings of psychotic episodes to reflections on relationships, both personal and professional, that have been important in the course of treatment.  The book is organized as a chronology that traces the trajectory of diagnosis, illness, treatment and recovery; the final section is entitled "Beginning Again."  Read in sequence, they give a rich sense of the writer's life, struggles, resilience, and unusual self-awareness.  


Though organized as a chronicle, individual poems in this collection stand alone; each is well-crafted, most about a page in length, and they vary in voice and point of view.  Their interest value is emphatically both medical and literary.  The titles are starkly descriptive ("Poem in Which Paranoia Strikes at the Grocery Store") or allusive ("Beggar at the Feast") or provocative ("No," "Too Much").   Many of the lines are memorable for their clarity and candor, like this one about emerging from a catatonic episode:  "I was sorry when they cured / me, when I had to depart that warm box, / the thick closed-in place of not-caring, / and return to the world."  Or this about learning to discount delusions:  "Doubt everything you think is both ‘secret' and ‘certain.'"  The collection allows readers into intimate space with dignity and authority.  By the final page, one has learned something significant about what it is to live with schizophrenia and its costs.


CavanKerry Press, Ltd.

Place Published

Fort Lee, N.J.



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