THE BATTLE OF BRINTELLIX
in this land winning a lasting home.
—“The Battle of Brunanburh,” tr. J.R.R. Tolkien
Nothing should be this easy.
—“Zoloft,” by Maggie Dietz
—from Rattle #56, Summer 2017
Tribute to Poets with Mental Illness
Claudia Putnam: “I think manic depression is still a better term for bipolar spectrum disorder because, although the original name was meant to characterize the extreme shifts, it doesn’t literally disqualify the in-betweens and mixed-states that many of us experience. I often say there’s nothing ‘bi’ or ‘polar’ about my condition; nonetheless it seems to be the closest diagnosis available. The drugs for it, though mostly I use antiepileptics these days, help. I’ve suffered from it (along with severe PTSD) since early childhood, and my loved ones have suffered right along with me. I often wonder how much more effective I might have been professionally, as a writer, and as a mother, had I had medical intervention sooner. Yet, there is so much cultural pressure not to take meds! It feels as if it’s people who are struggling hardest who are expected to be the standard-bearers against big pharma. Bipolar and PTSD are stress-allergic conditions; despite years of professional success, I have been unable to work since 2011. Overall, though, I think bipolar and even the trauma have expanded my perceptions and experience and given me more to work with imaginatively as a writer. I have a deep and broad mystical streak, which I find essential to my poetry. Because I haven’t been earning and my husband works in public mental health, which doesn’t pay well, our finances are limited. This makes it hard to deal with some of the expectations that aspiring writers face in the marketplace today regarding degrees, networking, residencies, conferences, submissions fees, subscriptions, etc. Some days I don’t leave the house, though there are still periods when I am extroverted. I worry, too, about revealing my condition, especially when I hear editors and agents saying they will not work with ‘crazy’ people. What do they mean?” (website)