Odes to Lithium
In this remarkable debut, Shira Erlichman pens a love letter to Lithium, her medication for Bipolar Disorder. With inventiveness, compassion, and humor, she thrusts us into a world of unconventional praise. From an unexpected encounter with her grandmother’s ghost, to a bubble bath with Bjӧrk, to her plumber’s confession that he, too, has Bipolar, Erlichman buoyantly topples stigma against the mentally ill. These are necessary odes to self-acceptance, resilience, and the jagged path toward healing. With startling language, and accompanied by her bold drawings and collages, she gives us a sparkling, original view into what makes us human.
“Through her nonlinear narrative of hospitalization, treatment and everyday life, Erlichman turns a confessional self-portrait of crisis into a chemical, chimerical joyride toward self-acceptance. . . These stylistic upheavals reinvigorate the book’s project again and again, allowing the ode form tremendous malleability and verve, all the while destigmatizing bipolar disorder through candor, intimacy and creativity."—Emilia Phillips, The New York Times
“Oh, Radiance. Survival and Surviving Field. How rare, an Eye like this, so able to access its marrow language—original, honest, dear, strange. These poems document and enact processes of finding a language imaginative and struggling enough to carry one’s life. Moving us through imagistic splay and shift, the line is Erlichman’s measure: ‘I know what the sea knows / with the bottom of its mind / unfathomed.’ These poems, I think, are little ‘sight’-engines—miraculous, fevered, whirring things. I’m astonished by breath and lasting at all. I ‘pull a flower / from her skull / & weave it into mine.’ I love her way, her mind.” —Aracelis Girmay