Friday, May 16, 2014

Poetry Against Stigma

I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix.
~Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle

Diversity in literature is a hot topic. It always strikes me how much potential diversity there is: diversity of religion, gender, economics, race/ethnicity, political beliefs, size, age, families/living arrangements, various aspects of physical health, cognition, educational systems, and many others.

One source of diversity is mental health. People have a *wide* range of mental health/illness experiences. My focus today is on poetry (and books) inspired by/relating to mental disorders. I'll start with an excerpt from “For a Patient” and then share links to other poems, plus articles and books. If you have any suggestions for poems, books, posts, etc. to add, please leave them in the comments.

photo by Tim Bonnemann

by Helen Montague Foster

because you didn’t get what they meant.
I said poetry is a language of pictures.
I meant to show you how to pick a calming
song for singing to yourself. You asked:
How can you calm yourself; you are yourself.
I said: None of us is single-minded.

read the rest here.


* There are excellent poems from the Texas Department of State Health Services' Adult Mental Health Awareness Poetry Contest 2012, 2013
* Mental Illness from the Outside By Erica Loberg
* Letter from a Mental Hospital by Kim Lozano
* Such Music as This by Jerry Kraft
* Apology by Elisabeth Dahl
* Addictions Counselor by Fran Markover
* 4% of Everything or Nothing by Ray Emanuel
* The End of the Old Woman by Michael Fulop

* Poems for Autistic Children
* Open Minds Quarterly: the poetry and literature of mental health recovery
* The Awakenings Project: empowering and healing through art
* Poetry, the creative process and mental illness from the BBC
* Veterans and Writing (Therapy)
* Poems to Lean on
* Through the Seasons: Poems and Illustrations by Moe Armstrong (Free.)
* Anne Sexton
* Info about Poetry Therapy

* National Alliance on Mental Illness fact sheets for Parents, Caregivers & Youth and Find Support (Resources)
* Books Dealing with Children’s Mental Health Topics For Children, Adolescents, and their Parents
* Booklist: Tough Issues for Teens by Bildungsroman
* You Cannot Be Replaced
* Walking a Balance Beam, post by Julianna Baggott
* Stamp Out Stigma

Stamp Out Stigma
photo by Steven Depolo

It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative--which ever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it.
~Sylvia Plath

Liz Steinglass has the Poetry Friday round-up today.


jama said...

Wonderful poem, and thanks for all the links! I so wish the stigma about mental health would go away. So many need help and the system is woefully inadequate.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

I liked the first part of FOR A PATIENT enough to click through, but when I read the rest, I was blown away by the power of it. Thanks for the resources, Tabatha, and for bringing attention to this important topic.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Hear, hear, Tabatha - thank you for always keeping important things at the forefront. I will pass along to my (psychiatrist) husband. Blessings to you!

Joy said...

You might want to look at any of John Fox's books FINDING WHAT YOU DIDN'T LOSE, POETRY THERAPY. Or I imagine any of the books or journals for poetry therapy would apply since their whole focus is on developing mental health through writing poetry.

Liz Steinglass said...

Wow. That poem is just lovely. Thank you for sharing it. And thank you reminding us that diversity is a big, big word.

Karin Fisher-Golton said...

What a powerful poem, particularly the line "I said: None of us is single-minded."

One reason I think letting the diversity that is visible show in books is important is because, just as you've said, there is so much diversity in the world. I think when we embrace some of it, it helps make the way for all of it.

Tara said...

I've seen the issue of mental health both from the view of the patient as well as the caregiver - neither easy. That was a beautiful poem, Tabatha, I'll be passing it along to someone who could use its healing words. And that Plath quote...just slays me...

Unknown said...

The poem gave me goosebumps. Thanks for rounding up so many helpful resources!

Keri said...

^^That's me, not Robert. ;-) Sorry I wasn't paying attention to the sign-in details! xoxoxox

Diane Mayr said...

Great list of resources! Thanks for gathering them, Tabatha.

GatheringBooks said...

What a wonderful resource you shared here, Tabatha. It has whispered to the clinician in me. :) Will share this with my psychology graduate students - perhaps then they'd be convinced of the power of poetry and literature to heal wounded souls.

Robyn Hood Black said...

What a powerful poem, and that delivery! Thank you for sharing, Tabatha. Forwarding all to my hubby (a psychiatrist).
Your mind and your generous heart never cease to amaze me, by the way - xo