Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Poems: An Experiment / Changes - Fresh Air: Creativity and Bipolar D/o

I sent out an announcement to New Directions that Terry Gross on Fresh Air was hosting a show on Manic Depression and Creativity. More than that I did not know.

Image result for kay jamison  Turns out that Kay Redfield Jamison was interviewed about her new book:

'River On Fire' Explores Genius, Madness And The Poetry Of Robert Lowell

Click on the above and you can listen to the show or read the transcript. Also,  read a review of her book by the Washington Post.

Jamison mentioned that Lowell had a particularly virulent case of bipolar d/o and was hospitalized 20-some times. ECT, which she emphasized was/is very effective, was his main form of treatment. Today's ECT is more focused than earlier versions where people might break bones from thrashing around.

And then came lithium. Friends of Lowell said his poetry after he began lithium was tamer and less original.

What a curly-headed cutie.

Read about his life here.

For you, Dear Reader, I'm gonna select one poem. How about Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket. I have a tuff time understanding his poems also.

Jamison, who's a professor at Johns Hopkins - co-director of the Mood Disorders unit - speaks about bipolar d/o at college campuses. She describes it as a bad illness, really hard to get through, but treatable.

During various talks I've given about bipolar over the years, I never use words like 'bad' or 'really hard.' I'm much more positive, saying if you follow the rules you should be okay, though it will certainly be a struggle. I use words like struggle and challenge.

Just saw a video where a disease was described as 'serious.'

Rules? Meds, therapy, change your lifestyle.


Donald Trump gave his first speech to the joint houses of Congress. Read about it in The Times.


The house was warm when I went
to bed, 71 degrees.
Instead of turning the heat down
I turned it off.

When I awoke just now, with
Tales from Watership Down
on my belly, I thought that
like in the book,

I was a downy rabbit
freezing to death. I
hopped downstairs and
checked the quiet

Fifty-eight, it sighed.
When I turned it up
the entire house puffed
out its chest and re-
verberated with sigh after
sigh after sigh.


Eating my salad on the screened in back porch
I think of all the changes since the Travis family
moved out and the kids and I moved in.

The kids fled the nest. Sometimes when I'm
falling asleep I think I hear them tromping
through the backyard path and the screen door
slamming on the side door.

I await their appearance in the master bedroom.
Hi Mom, I'm home, says Sarah in a pink dress.
Or, Dan, Mom can AJ sleep over?

The backyard maples have been whittled down to
one. While reclining on Judy Diaz's wicker couch,
its stuffing pouring out like an old man's
whiskers, I hear a red cardinal too-too-ing from
the forsythia.

A sparrow stares at me from a still leafess lilac.
Amazing, thinks I. Everything has changed
except me!


I worked for about six hours today, actually yesterday, correcting the proofs for the Compass. Then I emailed the corrections to Rene at Boggs Printing.

My fantasy is that Rene is gonna email me and say, Ruth, you want me to put in every last comma and I simply won't do it! Ya want me to ruin my eyesight?

It's gonna cost a pretty penny, of course, and right now - and I kid you not - I don't have any money!

Somehow it always comes together, like a colorful knitted scarf.

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