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Cox, M. (1982). Is there Anyone out there: An anthology of poems by sufferers from schizophrenia. Edited by Martha Robinson. National Schizophrenia Fellowship. Eastbourne: Downlander Publishing, 1981. Pp. 32.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 9:119-120.

(1982). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 9:119-120

Is there Anyone out there: An anthology of poems by sufferers from schizophrenia. Edited by Martha Robinson. National Schizophrenia Fellowship. Eastbourne: Downlander Publishing, 1981. Pp. 32.

Review by:
Murray Cox

A conventional book review would be inappropriate for a unique publication of this kind. Similarly, a literary review of yet one more among the countless 'books of poems' would miss the point. But so would a formal psychodynamic appraisal of poems written by patients suffering from schizophrenia. How then can we legitimately approach this slim, yet vitally important production entitled Is There Anyone Out There? In the Introduction, the editor explains how this book came into being. It is promoted by the Westminster Group of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship. She describes how 'the work submitted epitomized that hyper-sensitivity and vivid imagination characteristic of those who break down with the illness called schizophrenia'. The poems printed are those chosen from the numerous responses to a country wide appeal made through the National Schizophrenia Fellowship.

Richard Baker has written a Foreword in which he says 'an anthology of such quality is much more than a therapeutic exercise; here are rare insights into the human condition which can benefit us all'.

It seems to me that the reader will gain most if he approaches these poems with a view to gaining some degree of vicarious entry into the poet's perspectival world. Several of the poems could hold their own against the conventional canons of poetic 'criticism'. But the very word 'criticism' seems out of place. In this production we are given flashes of understanding into that idiosyncratic perception of the poet's 'effective personal world', to use Laing's phrase. Some of the poems give the impression of being much worked upon, carefully wrought, completed works of art. Others confront the reader with that shock of immediacy, which is more characteristic of the existential process of poiesis (the act of making) rather than being the result of such poiesis, i.e. the completed poem. And it is this unique blend of the completed poetic statement of experience and the stark confrontation of experience 'in the making' which gives this thin volume such wide significance. I suggest that its relevance is not limited to those who suffer from schizophrenia or to those whose lives are enriched by being with them. It also has much to say to the world of the professional poet who is, after all, involved in the task of making a 'raid on the inarticulate', to use T. S. Eliot's description of poetry.

Depending

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