NUTHOUSE EPISODE by Kinga  Stefaniec


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A debut collection of stream-of-consciousness poetry focuses on a fractured narrator.

An unnamed narrator struggles with mental illness in this account of time spent in and out of a psychiatric institution. Readers know little about the narrator, whose “consciousness broke” at some point. This narrator appears to be “Homeless / Crazy / Nuts,” lives in a city, was raised by an overly solicitous mother, became involved in a love triangle, and was restrained in a care facility. The narrator’s days are filled with activities like walking, a bike project, and drama and cognitive behavioral therapy. Much of the text is spent in the narrator’s head, which is a beehive of nonsensical thoughts. A series of bizarre “visions” involve Allen Ginsberg, a French baguette, and Jack Kerouac. “You got six vaginas,” the narrator writes in a letter to Ginsberg. The narrator also reflects on how society emphasizes earning and spending money, obeying boundaries, and creating a nuclear family, a trajectory the character seems to find restrictive. “My heart is polluted with life,” the narrator asserts near the end of the book. “How to get out of the train?” The best poem in the book, “Bearpit Story,” vividly tells of a night spent in an old double-decker bus with a ragtag group in the 1960s. Stefaniec also captures the experience of mental illness in visceral and artistic ways in lines like “my head is empty basket for bunch of flowers” and “I swim in a stew / I bite my nails sucking blood to the bone / Forgotten writing, sculptures made of words / Nest build of hungry thoughts.” But too many of her lines, like “I clench rim around each other,” are obtuse. The disorganized collection is also riddled with spelling and punctuation errors. One poem, “black birds sit on black cordes [sic] of electric cables,” contains four mistakes: “intervalls,” “meddows,” “knitt,” “travellers heads.”

A jumbled volume of poetry that explores mental illness.

Pub Date: May 31st, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5434-9070-1
Page count: 104pp
Publisher: Xlibris
Program: Kirkus Indie
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