Earlier this month I met with new author Beverly Freeman at the Black Walnut Café for a quick get-to-know you coffee. The lifelong editor and communications consultant has worked with words her whole life, but it’s only recently that she’s turned to creative nonfiction (as well as a novel that’s in the work).
As authors often do, we traded copies of our books and promised to dip into them soon. Hers, The Book of Whispers, is an exploration of bipolar disorder and suicide through memoir and poetry. The story is that of one of her colleagues, Mickey Driver. The poetry was written by his son, Jake, and is filled with humour, tragedy and beauty – and remarkable flashes of insight into his situation and the world around him.
Mickey and Beverly worked together on this book, creating a heartfelt and sensitive portrayal of one family’s struggles with mental illness. They both felt it was important to do – both to honour Jake’s memory, share his gift with words, and to help raise awareness about bipolar disorder. To that end, they are donating all the profits from the sale of the book to the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Greater Houston.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month, and I thought, having Beverly read from this book would be a perfect way to launch the series and do some good in the world. There is still so much stigma attached to mental illness and so many misunderstandings. But art can help us bridge the gap through empathy and appreciation.
So come celebrate these poems and a family’s journey to healing with us at the first Off 6 series on September 13 @ 7pm. Beverly has generously donated a copy to be used as a door prize for people who sign up for the open mic as well, so why not bring five minutes of your music or words too?