The Story Behind the poem

In April of 2005, a few months after Natural Selections was published, I made a donation to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Along with their thank you came a request that, in light of my standing as a poet, I write a poem for their upcoming fundraiser in May.

My first response was NO, NO, NO. I have enough trouble writing in general, and they would need my work within 3 weeks.

My second response was NO, NO, NO. I am an “artist,” and try not to write about something, but rather I write about nothing, and let the poem becomes what it wants to be; that such a “manufactured”poem would not be worthy of my other works. Ahem.

My third response was YES, of course I’ll do it. How often does a poet get asked to do anything? And yes, it was challenging, balancing the need for hope with my desire to wallow in despair, but I am happy with the results. I feel comfortable with this poem alongside my other works, and I feel privileged to have been able to participate in this venture.

I’d like to thank the people who have read my poem, who responded with, “How did you know?”and related their own situations. They let me know that my writing connected with them, which is, after all, exactly what it is about.

Elaine Mintzer


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