Seymour’s debut collection of poetry chronicles mental illness, motherhood and religious faith.
The speaker in these confessional poems knows struggle. In plainspoken verse, she explains that she suffers from bipolar disorder and occasional suicidal ideation. The work portrays life on the margins of a society that stigmatizes mental illness. “I wonder if there are any / Cures out there to help us with / A lot of our disabilities,” she writes, speaking on behalf of those who are often silent. In the pendulum swing between the “good” and “bad” periods of a dichotomous disorder, the narrator experiences equal parts despair and gratitude, taking solace in her children, her Christian faith and the handful of people she admires. Each poem is a short compilation of intimate thoughts expressed in clichéd terms: “You need to take the good with the / Bad in order to survive.” The line breaks occur arbitrarily, fracturing complete sentences into verse that uses little imagery or metaphor. The poems seem designed to bridge a distance; they almost plead for connection. Without concrete images, however, the possibility for that connection is often lost. The narrator struggles to articulate her mental landscape and relies on a conventional wisdom delivered in predictable language. The material does have the potential to be rich when it tackles fraught topics—abuse, parenting, hospitalization—but it rarely rises above simple declarations, which vary little in tone. For example, “Bipolar is the kind of life nobody wants. / I have bipolar. / Bipolar is specifically known as manic depression. / There are so many / Ways that bipolar can / Affect any type of person.” The poems certainly underscore the need for additional discourse about disability, and they admirably broach emotionally difficult themes. But this collection doesn’t advance the discussion in fresh ways.
Intimate, focused efforts of an inexperienced poet.