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Odes to Lithium

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In this remarkable debut, Shira Erlichman pens a love letter to Lithium, her medication for Bipolar Disorder. With inventiveness, compassion, and humor, she thrusts us into a world of unconventional praise. From an unexpected encounter with her grandmother's ghost, to a bubble bath with Bjӧrk, to her plumber's confession that he, too, has Bipolar, Erlichman buoyantly toppl In this remarkable debut, Shira Erlichman pens a love letter to Lithium, her medication for Bipolar Disorder. With inventiveness, compassion, and humor, she thrusts us into a world of unconventional praise. From an unexpected encounter with her grandmother's ghost, to a bubble bath with Bjӧrk, to her plumber's confession that he, too, has Bipolar, Erlichman buoyantly topples stigma against the mentally ill. These are necessary odes to self-acceptance, resilience, and the jagged path toward healing. With startling language, and accompanied by her bold drawings and collages, she gives us a sparkling, original view into what makes us human.


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In this remarkable debut, Shira Erlichman pens a love letter to Lithium, her medication for Bipolar Disorder. With inventiveness, compassion, and humor, she thrusts us into a world of unconventional praise. From an unexpected encounter with her grandmother's ghost, to a bubble bath with Bjӧrk, to her plumber's confession that he, too, has Bipolar, Erlichman buoyantly toppl In this remarkable debut, Shira Erlichman pens a love letter to Lithium, her medication for Bipolar Disorder. With inventiveness, compassion, and humor, she thrusts us into a world of unconventional praise. From an unexpected encounter with her grandmother's ghost, to a bubble bath with Bjӧrk, to her plumber's confession that he, too, has Bipolar, Erlichman buoyantly topples stigma against the mentally ill. These are necessary odes to self-acceptance, resilience, and the jagged path toward healing. With startling language, and accompanied by her bold drawings and collages, she gives us a sparkling, original view into what makes us human.

30 review for Odes to Lithium

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alana

    Ode to Lithium #63: Lightweight   at the party I’m called a lightweight while you shovel salt through my blood like a dedicated father clearing the driveway except the driveway is the whole world you make wine take off its clothes faster glaze my eyes with gentle & I deserve a life– time supply of this ease so when they tease “just one drink & you’re good” they don’t know ………it’s not the wine Ode to Lithium #63: Lightweight   at the party I’m called a lightweight while you shovel salt through my blood like a dedicated father clearing the driveway except the driveway is the whole world you make wine take off its clothes faster glaze my eyes with gentle & I deserve a life– time supply of this ease so when they tease “just one drink & you’re good” they don’t know ………it’s not the wine somebody cares for me

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review; opinions are my own. You know how once in a while you’re kind of flirting with several books at once and then you pick one up you thought you’d save for later but it grabs you by the throat and injects you with magic serum that makes you stay? That’s what happened to me with this book. I stayed with it until I was done; I want to stay with it forever. A one-sitting read that cracked open the shell of m I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review; opinions are my own. You know how once in a while you’re kind of flirting with several books at once and then you pick one up you thought you’d save for later but it grabs you by the throat and injects you with magic serum that makes you stay? That’s what happened to me with this book. I stayed with it until I was done; I want to stay with it forever. A one-sitting read that cracked open the shell of my world and made my heart race, this book is a work of art: Erlichman is a visual artist in addition to a sharp-axed wordsmith, and some of her visual art graces these pages. The cover alone is stunning, but the visual accompaniments to the poems bring a beautiful extra layer to the experience of reading them. As the title says, this collection is filled with odes to the drug, the element, the mystery of lithium. Erlichman writes of how it can free her from the ‘neon isolation of mind-jail’ of Bipolar II. ‘Who do you speak to in my body that listens,’ she asks lithium in ‘The Watchman.’ But her relationship with the drug is far from simple. Erlichman’s absolutely seductive lines and stanzas weave a gorgeous tapestry of themes with threads of stigma, beauty, fear, curiosity, memory, nature, illness/wellness, and a sometimes tenuous sense of reality. She uses several poetic forms which keeps the book super engaging, and her use of metaphor and imagery is dazzlingly good. Every single poem here was a hit for me. I highly recommend this book, definitely one of my top reads of the year.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Basia

    These poems boast breathtaking imagination—a bubble bath with Bjork, Phineas Gage as a house guest, and of course, lithium as a kind of life form—all while sitting with the real need for and consequences of the lithium itself, in devastating moments in an ice cream parlor, surprisingly beautiful exchanges in a hospital parking lot, and in memory lapses witnessed by a lover who offers not fear in the face of her forgetfulness, but compassion. The collection is diverse in forms too, including neat These poems boast breathtaking imagination—a bubble bath with Bjork, Phineas Gage as a house guest, and of course, lithium as a kind of life form⁠—all while sitting with the real need for and consequences of the lithium itself, in devastating moments in an ice cream parlor, surprisingly beautiful exchanges in a hospital parking lot, and in memory lapses witnessed by a lover who offers not fear in the face of her forgetfulness, but compassion. The collection is diverse in forms too, including neat lyrics, prose poems, epistolary poems written backwards, and a stunning poem with words of despair crossed out and replaced by alternatives that insist on survival, even if it means imperfection. In this noteworthy debut, Shira Erlichman has pulled off an impressive feat.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Pearl

    “It’s not easy dying without dying. Before I ever took the pills I took so much. So much was taken. I’m done. I’m here.” - Postscript to Mania This beautiful book of poems lived up to all of the hype my heart made for it when Shira first announced it’s release on her instagram. The poems accurately, painfully, beautifully, intensely depict the intricacies of living with bipolar disorder. Shira’s poetics are easy to follow and they invoke emotion and imagery. The realities of Bipolar D “It’s not easy dying without dying. Before I ever took the pills I took so much. So much was taken. I’m done. I’m here.” - Postscript to Mania This beautiful book of poems lived up to all of the hype my heart made for it when Shira first announced it’s release on her instagram. The poems accurately, painfully, beautifully, intensely depict the intricacies of living with bipolar disorder. Shira’s poetics are easy to follow and they invoke emotion and imagery. The realities of Bipolar Disorder are something people don’t try to understand because they don’t want to, and a book like this is what the world needs. Thank you so so much Shira for sharing your truth. Here’s to the mentally ill and the poets who continue to sing their realities no matter what they look like. Here’s to Lithium (and all the psychotropics tbh) for poisoning and salting and allowing life.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Courtney LeBlanc

    Overall this is a very good, compelling collection of poems which focus on the poet's mental health and struggle with bipolar disorder and her reliance on lithium, the drug that keeps her brain chemistry balanced. from The Knife-Flower: "Lust was my terrain. I licked / my plate clean. Underlined what was already / underlined. My religion, those muscular, inky odes." from There Were Others: "I know you want to know: Were they better Did I love them Would I ever go back Who was she. // Overall this is a very good, compelling collection of poems which focus on the poet's mental health and struggle with bipolar disorder and her reliance on lithium, the drug that keeps her brain chemistry balanced. from The Knife-Flower: "Lust was my terrain. I licked / my plate clean. Underlined what was already / underlined. My religion, those muscular, inky odes." from There Were Others: "I know you want to know: Were they better Did I love them Would I ever go back Who was she. // But if you could see what they gave me: years. / From the bottom of the lake they scraped my literacy for breathing." An honest, refreshing, and poetic look at mental illness.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joe Archer

    Stylistically interesting and emotionally charged, Odes to Lithium is a unique reading experience and a glimpse into the mind of an artist living with Bipolar Disorder. There were a few poems, full of parental blaming, that came off as a bit juvenile from an outsider's perspective, but overall this was a great debut collection.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This was a hard read, and not one I saw myself in, but it is very much a book I want to leave in a public place or a little library in hopes that it finds its way to someone who needs it. It seems extremely honest and the words and layout are creative in a way that I think will help many folks will find themselves reflected in a new and kind and generous way.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mander Pander

    Poetry either makes you feel like a light has picked you out of crowd and you are seen, or a lot of nothing. This volume made me feel nothing, but I have some guilt about leaving a poor review about such a personal work, especially based in chronic health issues.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    This book is revolutionary. I read it breathless and stunned. Shira Ehrlichman writes love poetry for her Lithium, the medication for her Bipolar Disorder, and meditates on mental health, family, self, stigma, love, solidarity so much more. This collection completely blew me away.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Emanuela M.

    Bellissima collezione di poesie che più che altro trattano temi come problemi con la salute mentale ed il disturbo bipolare che si quietano con il litio. Bellissima collezione. Intensa.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ronnie Stephens

    Full review at thepoetryquestion.com.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Josette

    I absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. Erlichman's poetry crackles with light and reminds me that we all have an ability to enrich our lives with noticing the quality of the light all around us.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    I loved Erlichman's original odes to lithium, seeing one in a literary journal was a treat. Loved this collection though it felt less wild than the originals, having been polished and the odes been gifted titles. Even that small detail gives more of a sense of stability, of order formed out of chaos.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cassidy

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maritza

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marisa Siegel

  17. 5 out of 5

    samantha

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kat Kelly

  19. 5 out of 5

    Waffle

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mlle Ghoul

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Casey

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mattie

  24. 4 out of 5

    McKenna Ritter

  25. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Lucas

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kate Nielsen

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jacque

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Moore

  30. 4 out of 5

    André Habet

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