In 1993, while taking a poetry class at the U of M, I started an epic poem about mankind’s history, called the “Proven Life”. Though it is still not finished almost 20-years later (which seems somewhat appropriate), the central character was a girl named Joline. Over the ensuing years, she has visited some poems, and become the central figure in others.
Lately I have been thinking more about this “person” and the idea of writing a book-length collection of poems and prose to fill in her background, and what path she is heading down. I posted the first individual poem – A Visit – that provided a bit of history back in February.
Joline suffered a traumatic event as a young child, and unaware of what she did, and the world crashing around her, she is swept into the turmoil with years of uncertainty before arriving at a hospital in Alaska.
It seems that Joline is asking me to write more, as the signs and guides are becoming more blatant. This past weekend, we watched “Sucker Punch” and “Another Happy Day”, both dealing with these issues on varying levels and depths.
The story and actions of Joline are based on people I have met over the years – real people struggling with mental disorders, trying to make sense of themselves and this world. Mental illness is prominent in literature, movies, music, everywhere – but it tends to be portrayed in a way that casts the suffering person as an outcast, a burden, and someone beyond help – unless it is written as a memoir.
As a writer, I am fascinated by the inner and outer workings of the mind, and through my pieces, will change this perception, as I look at the real emotions, motivation, struggles, and the good that everyone has within them. I myself have suffered with anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behaviors, that I have learned to control a bit (not always, and they are always waiting), but more importantly, learned to channel the extreme depth of emotion and awareness of myself, into these words.
Beyond writers of memoirs I have read (such as Marya Hornbacher) who with courage and honesty, poured their words and images into books, I of course will not name any of these inspirations, but will thank them for coming into my life and allowing me to be a part of their struggling, for giving me a chance to understand, and for trusting me.
Now as the rain falls and the coffee begins to take affect, I cannot help but think of tears. Long, drawn-out tears, from swollen red eyes and the singular desire drowning in fire, to escape. And these will be the next words of Joline.