child cowering, fetal, open field, hurricane     hair snagged on fishhooks tied to kite tails

I draw inspiration from my rather unique childhood experience. Grew up poor at first, mental illness haunts my family like cholesterol. Didn’t know that long toes were a common physical trait on my mother’s side till I was eighteen.

My childhood had pain, and I suppose I draw from that pain in my poetry. A wish to express how relatable emotional and psychological pain is. That everyone is an island among islands.

I want to help people pull back veil of bones. To bare my own open heart pulsing to them. For them to see that pain and pulsing and blood and wounds are felt by everyone and that in that, they are not alone.


folks with mental illness, marginalized. Mental illness, ignored,   buried alive. muffled pain: lowers head – hair hanging…    I will thrust my fingers from the earth, splinter pleather-padded coffins.

I have ADHD and have suffered from depression. Every one of my family members suffers from some mental illness, be it bipolar, schizophrenia, ADHD. Torturous to live with. ignored. Often hard for those people to speak up for themselves through art, through anything.

I want to show support and solidarity. engage with the unique relationships, emotions, thought processes of these illnesses. They’re not alone. They’re not monsters. Also, sometimes there’s beauty there. I want to find the beautiful, the tragic, the painful, the relatable in the struggle. Raw emotions of depression, etc. are, to me, interesting and challenging to try to convey accurately. Would love to compile poetry from people struggling with different illnesses.


I’m fixated on the passage of time and the passage of people through it. “Ships that pass in the night…” I love old places, things, books. So many feet have graced this classroom, fingerprints, this book. So many lives, just passing through. I think Longfellow’s words are especially relevant and resonant with the current age. With social media, lightning-quick interactions between strangers strike. Then disappear into the conveyor belt sea. I often think about time as it relates to the human condition and human connection. Especially important to a generation enthralled with that soggy golden thread: nostalgia.

2 Replies to “Sparks”

  1. Hi, David.
    First of all, I just want to say I thought this post was well written. Great job. Second of all, I think your motivation of using mental illness is an interesting choice. Considering mental illness is something that is getting more acknowledgement in today’s day and age, I think you would definitely have an audience. On the flip side, there is still a lack of sources for people suffering from mental illness, and I think it’s time there are more works written for people with mental illnesses, especially from someone who clearly has experience.
    I thought the comment about everyone being an island among islands was incredibly well-put. Everyone feels alone, and there are tons of people who feel just like that. Poetry does expose pain, makes it almost beautiful in the suffering, because there will always be people who can relate to that pain. Mental illness is also interesting because there is so much emotion in the suffering and the living with the pain, but there is also a contrast with the lack of feeling, with apathy and dissociation, which I think would be an interesting juxtaposition in writing.
    Also, there are two poems you might like. One is called “What the Angels Left” by Marie Howe. It has an eeriness to it, with a seemingly innocent beginning tone, which turns darker through the rest of the poem. Because of this seemingly darker mood, readers can find senses of something up with the speaker, most likely a mental illness of some sort. The next poem is called “Genealogy” by Betsy Sholl, which is interesting because it is a more abstract poem, where interpretations are left entirely up to the reader, but the relationship between the speaker and the parents referenced in the poem is very interesting, especially given the sense of loneliness the speaker conveys.
    I’m not sure if you’re into music, but there’s a cool song called “Beautiful World” by Carolina Liar. The lyrics are pretty neat. Apparently, the lyrics were inspired by someone with bipolar disorder. Despite the words “Beautiful world”, there are the sadder phrases, like “I’m just trying to forget” and “somehow just get out of bed”, and despite the mental illness, the speaker continues to get up everyday.
    There is a book called “Living in Storms: Contemporary Poetry and the Moods of Manic Depression” by Schramm, T., ed. There may be some poems with different perspectives that you may like.

    Hopefully you like those.

  2. Hi David. You and I have a lot in common.

    When you mentioned mental illness, a lot of writers came to mind, but I think you would like Pamela Spiro Wagner’s “We Made Climb Shaky Ladders.” The collection covers a variety of topics, including the poet’s own struggle with schizophrenia and it’s effects on her life, her relationships. The edition I have has several notes from her shrink throughout, which gives background to her mental state when the poems were written.

    In terms of time and generational differences/change, I thought of the movie Namesake (with Kal Penn), based on a novel of the same name by Jhumpa Lahiri. I recommend both, but for source material, the movie may be more helpful. It can be broken into two parts, with the first following a woman preparing for an arranged marriage in India before moving to a county she doesn’t know (America) with a man she barley knows. Time jumps, and we then follow her oldest son, trapped emotionally between his need to please his family, and his desire to fit in modern American culture.

    I think you would also enjoy the movie Persona which deals with mental illness from a different perspective from other media I’ve seen/read. I can’t describe it without giving too much away… so I’ll just leave it at that. It’s good, though.

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