Snatched off the web:

"I think all art is really an act of defiance

against life, and what

it does to people"

-Douglas Clark: D.G.D.Clark@BATH.AC.UK


cover Beyond Bedlam, London, Anvil Press Poetry, Ltd., 1997, is distributed in the U.S. and Canada by Dufour Editions, Inc.


Out of Order

Eyes not seeing too well

The right things.

Ears not hearing too well

What my soul, unanswered, begs for.

-Solomon Blue Waters

comes as a shock into the poetic margin1, ‘Reason’2, or the in-between where we feel and where poetry lives. This poem is from Beyond Bedlam: Poems Written out of Mental Distress, edited by Ken Smith and Michael Sweeney, London, Anvil, 1997. This selection was carefully selected from poems by such authors as T. S. Eliot and such authors as those 5000 people who contributed to the Bethlehem and Maudsley National Benefit Poetry Projects working as individuals or as members of poetry groups like Survivors’ Poetry (nothing like that here in the U.S., by the way). This is not just a collection of poems by crazy people. (I can use the term as I am myself and also as I am a psychologist.) It is not just a collection of poems by established poets who reflect on an aberrant thought or moment. It is a collection where each work is an experienced moment at the boundaries of what is loosely and mistakenly referred to as ‘reason.’

The lines of life are various; they diverge and cease

Like footpaths and the mountains’ utmost ends.

-Friedrich Holderlin (1770 - 1843)

-or was it Des McHale (1958 - 96)?

-or you?

-or does it matter?

-It’s us.

Therapy Room

Joe’s making a stool.

I’m weaving a basket.

Someone’s making coffee.

Dee says I can sing

and she does.

Jane won’t make an


Arthur’s sulking because

the priest wouldn’t re

christen him Jesus.

Jane still won’t make

an ashtray, instead

she becomes a dog.

grrr Woof woof Woof!

Dogs don’t make ashtrays.

Dee’s singing the

national anthem.

Arthur blesses me.

Sydney hasn't spoken

all morning, or yesterday

or the day before,

ggrrr Woof Woof!


said Joe

I’m going to discharge

myself from this place

it’s driving me mad.

Realizing what he had

said, he starts to laugh.

I also start to laugh,

the man on my left

(who didn’t hear Joe)

starts to laugh as well.

We all laugh

except Sid who wants

to die (and means it).

Then we had coffee.

- Bill Lewis (b. 1953)

This is a book to explore as a whole and to experience as individual parts. And to keep to look through again.


1 Caze, Antoine. ‘Margins of Theory, Theory of Margins,’ Postwar American Poetry: The Mechanics of the Mirage, Edited by Michel Delville and Christine Pagnoulle, English Department, University of Liege. 2000., pp. 93 - 105

2 Lyn Hejinian, Shark I (Spring, 1998): 33 - 44, and


tom bell, 2000, published in SPT