Tag Archives: madness

Creativity: Neither Magic Nor Madness

Nothing like telling the entire world about one’s clinical depression to enliven a Tuesday.

Here’s my latest for Ploughshares Literary Magazine, in which I own up to the depression that yanked me out of music-touring
and in which I punch the Mental-Illness-Makes-Better-Artists myth in the throat.

Regardless of whether you’ve suffered from mental illness, there are things we can all learn from the popular myth that “madness”—or at least some kind of untamable magic—begets creativity. By owning up to our reliance on Magical-Muse thinking, we empower ourselves and each other to make more and better work. And to be healthy while we’re at it.”

The choice may not be between “madness” and dullness, but between passive and active engagement. Here are 5 ways to kick your magic-thinking habit, and get to work.

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breaking it

You won’t come spinning out of the madness as if nothing happened.
They say you will.
You won’t make their promise true by needing it.

You slid out of a womb already breaking.
You make all your decisions
via hints the madness left.

When you speak, it’s with the madness
in your throat. You move with whatever it bequeathed
to your bones.

When you live at all, you’re the wreckage of the world
the world intended
when it first opened its mouth.

The rains came down, and the floods came up.
You won’t return to anything
but dust.




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