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How I slip across a plank of moods how I gaze so far in my small mind how I am not this sick body, but a cycle–a circle, a painted sphere in orbit given to touch–to feel–magnitudes. I know no direction. The dark, the light–two poles of a whole. Balance: I pull you too far down and then too high, but at such lengths I wander beyond myself examining the weight the burning the constancy
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the continent of such a life. —Amy Jo Sprague
Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak whispers to the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break. –Shakespeare, Macbeth
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Wo rds are t he physicians o f a m ind dise ase d. – Aeschylus I am a Creative No nfictio n writer and po et, dabbling in creative writing, lyrical essays, and memo ir. I don’t censo r myself and I do n’t “fluff” and sugar-co at. At times I’m brutally ho nest but why lie? So me o f my pieces/blo gs revo lve aro und the reality o f mental illnesses–the po sitive and negative sides o f PTSD, Bipo lar Diso rder, Disso ciatio n, and Deperso nalizatio n. These issues I actually use as po ints and truths abo ut a bigger picture –no t perso nal therapy. I also blo g po etry, sho rt sto ries, and…future…no vel excerpts (ideas). I write because it is clo ser to me than I am myself. I write because it is what I kno w to do mo st intimately. I do n’t kno w myself until I have written it. It’s been beyo nd “a passio n” o f mine, it is all I do and what I am mo stly thinking abo ut. My so ul hides o n me in the wo rds like this wo nderful mystery fo r me. There is a sto ry revealing itself to me as life go es and go es, I’m waiting fo r so mething–what I do n’t kno w. There is just a sto ry in me, and to no t tell it–I’d have no purpo se. I’m an o lder co llege student taking a break and, mo st affectio nately, I am a mama. Learning ho w to garden, can’t co o k, lo ve the blues. I lo ve o ld, rusty, wo rn and to rn things. “Fo rge t yo ur pe rso nal t rage dy. We are all bit che d f ro m t he st art and yo u e spe cially have t o be hurt like he ll be f o re yo u can writ e se rio usly. But whe n yo u ge t t he dam ne d hurt use it – do n’t che at wit h it . Be as f ait hf ul t o it as a scie nt ist – but do n’t t hink anyt hing is o f any im po rt ance be cause it happe ns t o yo u o r anyo ne be lo nging t o yo u.” Erne st He m ingway, t o F. Sco t t Fit zge rald (Se le ct e d Letters) LISTEN & READ: 0 3 – Sleepless Difficult Degrees is mo stly a blo g o f po st-co nfessio nal po etry. It’s an experiment. It’s an acco unt o f the paths I’m o n, trying to see thro ugh the trees and into the light. It’s an ho nest windo w into myself. Each po em is a different, difficult degree–steps into the lights and dark I’m go ing thro ugh o r seeing, mo o ds and temperatures o f mental illness
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and wellness. It started when I was in the middle o f the darkness, my o nly way aro und was a pen. No w I’ve fo und my way thro ugh the thick part and I’m kind o f explo ring. I’m no t expecting an answer o r a co nclusio n o r miraculo us revelatio n. The jo urney is what matters. So many truths everywhere, so many trials and beautiful mo ments. I’m making ro o m fo r myself in this place, finally a who le wo man. My fractured identity is go ne–thanks to the dark side o f the jo urney. It was wo rth it. It was blessing. It has given me a kind o f grace. We have to kno w despair in o rder to kno w the true light. I co nsider myself so mewhat Buddhist, Tao ist, Christian…do es it matter? There’s no need to cho o se. They all are quite similar and beautiful, tho ugh I believe Buddhism has co me clo sest to a center. I’m learning that o nce yo u’ve been to the edge and yo u’ve co me back, yo u have no thing in life to fear. Because yo u’ve been there. What if I slip again? What if I falter at so me po int in paying attentio n to myself and I get sick again? Well, I wo n’t fail myself (I’ve beco me quite lo yal to myself), but if I sho uld get sick, I kno w the path o f it, I’ll be as prepared as I can and I kno w I’ll make it thro ugh. The first time is the wo rst because everything is so unkno wn. I’m in the midst o f making changes to my life. No w that I’m healthier and stro nger, it’s time to start this life o ver. And starting again is terrifying and exciting at the same time. Fo r a lo ng time I hid fro m change and beginning again. I wasn’t living my life at all, and it to o k a to ll o n me. I had to find o ut fo r myself that in o rder to find peace and happiness, yo u have to live. So I made changes and plans. I’m back in scho o l and mo ving back to the city where I was mo st happy, a city I visit o ften and feel so alive there fo r so me reaso n. I may mo ve again in a year, do wn by my best friend, Mike, the sculpto r. We feed each o ther inspiratio n, we’re wells o f dreams and passio ns. But I’m no t go ing to get ahead o f myself, o ne change at a time. That’s o ne tricky thing with having bipo lar–finding pro per balance. I want to go the extreme and mo ve far away and to tally do a 36 0 o n my life, and at the o ther end I’m tip-to eing the babysteps o f change. Balance. Friends and family help me stay balanced. That’s o ne thing I’ve learned
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fro m go ing crazy and develo ping a suppo rt system–we need each o ther. Family and friends are true gifts. We are almo st no thing witho ut them. I’ve spent o ne year inside madness and half a year hiding inside myself. The o nly time I came o ut fo r breath was when I needed to write. That’s why this blo g is also spo radic and mo o dy –it depends o n where I am. And that’s o k, this plank o f mo o ds, that’s just the way I am. But anyways, yes, I hid fo r a lo ng time. Hid in my ho use, hid in my self-studies, hid behind my weight (thanks medicatio ns), hid behind my stigmas. When I dro pped the stigmas and renamed myself I was to tally empo wered. I define me, no o ne else do es, no DSM can. And that’s when I started waking up. I wasn’t an exhausted so ul trapped in a sick bo dy anymo re (Go d Co mplex PTSD was so o o o o ro ugh), I was this light, this beam co ming thro ugh my skin. I can’t explain it witho ut so unding lame. But my true self was so mething co ncrete fo r the first time in my entire life. I’d never been who le and sure. It was/is exhilerating. I can’t wait to mo ve and start up a new life with a new me. At last, I no lo nger fear change. Difficult Degrees (fo rmerly “Write Me Up”) is my o wn perso nal no tebo o k o f scribbles, tho ughts, fears, truths, passio ns, tragedies, and, mo re and mo re, my jo ys. I do n’t ever plan what I’m go ing to write o r ho w o r when. This is the mo st uno rganized, spo radic, impulsive blo g ever made. And so meho w I’ve met so me really amazing peo ple because o f it. Peo ple who , like me, are finding their vo ice, finding their way, and putting their hearts o n the plate fo r self-examinatio n, truth, and disco very. It’s a great feeling to find o ut that yo u’re no t alo ne –that yo u’re no t the o nly o ne who se been thro ugh certain things–and the co mpassio n we have fo r each o ther is purely beautiful. Thank yo u fo r reading my blo g, o r even just this page. I lo ve to
"POST -C ONFESSIONAL" POETRY, POETS , A RTICLES
" Confessional Poetry" Regan Good " Confessionalography" –Rachel Z ucker- on- " I" - Poetry " Edge" Sylvia Plath " Father, Son and Wholly Ghost" –Joel- Dias- Porter PDFmyURL.com
hear fro m my readers–abo ut their o wn jo urneys and similarities and epiphanies. I’m also o pen to critique (o n matter and style, no t vo ice). Yeah, yeah this is all also practice fo r my writing. I’m o n the verge o f starting THE BOOK. The sto ry I was meant to write is creeping clo se to the surface again. It’s so difficult to start. I’ve tried befo re, but my balance and fo cus was o ff. Do I make it literary fictio n? Auto bio graphical fictio n? Memo ir? Creative no ficito n? Is it all to be a co llectio n o f essays, a co llectio n o f sho rts, o r a co llectio n o f po etry? Can I do it all? Ho w do I begin? I used to think what my sto ry was was a tragedy. That’s bullshit. My sto ry is abo ut lo ve and o ur centers and what it takes to find that lo ve. What it takes. The amo unt o f pain a human can suffer and survive is truly a grand thing. So metimes, when I’m silent and wandering my mind, I think–ho w the hell did I make it o uta there? And the mere fact that I did so lidifies who I am, and makes me a little pro ud o f myself. In a year I lo st my sanity, my jo b, myself, my ho use, my friends, my fiance, and many many mo re things. But ho nestly? I didn’t lo se–I GAINED EVERYTHING. I am living a beautiful life because o f what happened. Ho w the darkness is, in a sense, also the true light, is beyo nd me. Everything is o ne, everything is who le. But that’s ano ther sto ry.
" Post- Confess. Poetry" - Harrietblog " The Very Act of Telling" (Aaron Smith on Sharon Olds & Writing Narrative Poetry) " Vespers" Louise Gluck Amy Gerstler Anne Sexton Anthony Hecht Charles Wright Essay on First Person Usage in Poetry Eula Biss: The Balloonists James Wright Joe Wenderoth Nick Flynn: Some Ether Olena Kalytiak Davis (article) Rachel Z ucker: Eating in the Underworld Robert Lowell's " Skunk Hour" Sharon Olds Sharon Olds: Advice- to- youngpoets (audio) 2009 Yusef Komunyakaa
This wo rk by Amy Jo Sprague is licensed under a Creative Co mmo ns Attributio n 3.0 Unpo rted License. Based o n a wo rk at amyjo sprague.wo rdpress.co m.
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on June 19, 2010 at 12:00 am | Reply
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Amy, I am so far away fro m myself. What yo u say here abo ve describes yo u. I can’t even get clo se to describing myself. I keep thinking I’m o n it. I’m better. I’ve go t it figured o ut, but I can’t write a wo rd that means anything. I’m go ing to steal so me o f the these quo tes o n yo ur blo gs. They are brilliant and I do n’t kno w why I do n’t have them in my o wn cache. I co llect great quo tes. Health and lo ve to yo u my friend. xo , mary
Se nde rUpWo rds I applaud yo u. I am much the same. Lo ve and Light, Sender
on January 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Reply
on January 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Reply
Keep the faith, it’s a ro ad and wo rth writing. I can’t remember which po et said that
Dante go t thro ugh Hell “wrapped in the meters” o f Virgil — meaning, when yo u’re go ing thro ugh hell, keep writing. And do n’t sto p. Lo ts o f interesting terrain o n the way, anyway. (Purgato rio is SO much mo re fun than Paradiso .) I did a po st recently o n “Madness and the Creative,” really abo ut the Va. Tech massacre, but the essay suggests that madness and creativity are destructive and pro ductive faces o f the so me same thing. If yo u care to read: http://tinyurl.co m/4mvw5o a . p.s. I think life slo ws us fro m mania into meaning, but it takes years. And meds. And grace.
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on January 31, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Reply
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Lisa A beautiful page abo ut a beautiful perso n.
on February 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Reply
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am yjo sprague That’s so sweet o f yo u, Lisa
on February 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Reply
on March 8, 2011 at 4:25 am | Reply
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I really lo ve yo ur line (because it really is yo u!) “Ho w the darkness is, in a sense, also a true light”.
Luke Prat e r
on April 22, 2011 at 10:46 am | Reply
I can relate to a lo t o f this. Thank yo u fo r being o pen, ho nest, and no t sugarco ating. ‘Tis the stuff o f reality, and teh grit o f go o d po etry. To hell with the flo wery crap… thank yo u Amy
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on April 23, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Reply
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What it takes to find that lo ve….yo u summed everything up beautifully in that sentence.
Kare n Hi Amyjo ~
on May 9, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Reply
Yo u have never met me, but I feel like I kno w a lo t abo ut yo u. I have had the privledge o f watching yo u gro w thro ugh yo ur sister. I want yo u to kno w yo u are an inspiratio n and I am so relieved yo u have fo und yo ur will to no t o nly survive, but to truly live! ……..o nly tho se who have experienced such depth o f unbearable pain co uld so elo quantly put her wo rds into such a graceful art fo rm. Co ngratulatio ns to yo u! Karen
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on May 19, 2011 at 10:10 am | Reply
check o ut sho rt sto ry slam to day. ho pe to see yo ur participatio n.
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In Your Absence by Judith Harris : The Poetry Foundation [poem] http://wp.me/pSQp4- eq 3 minutes ago Puppet- Maker by Charles Simic : Poetry Magaz ine [poem/magaz ine] http://nblo.gs/id4dJ 15 minutes ago Puppet- Maker by Charles Simic : Poetry Magaz ine [poem/magaz ine] http://wp.me/pSQp4- eo 16 minutes ago The Taste of Silence by Adam Kirsch [article/magaz ine] http://t.co/avIaZ kP via @AddThis Charles Simic #poetry 1 hour ago My Girl http://nblo.gs/icv2d 3 hours ago PDFmyURL.com
Puppet- Maker by Charles Simic Read more here: http://bit.ly/cGHJBC 10 hours ago One Girl by Sappho Read more here: http://bit.ly/c2oQpk 10 hours ago Secret Life by Li- Young Lee Read more here: http://bit.ly/hPSGEd 10 hours ago
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My Wild Child About Z akes Mda (The Madonna of Excelsior) Interview With Tin House The Double Image by Anne Sexton Diane Di Prima, bio, poems It's In the Little Pieces Shakespeare; Sonnet XCIV Psychosis My Why E. E. Cummings: Essential American Poets / Essential American Poets : The Poetry Foundation
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