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Odes to Lithium cover - Shira Erlichman.

"Odes to Lithium is a remarkable book: it is beautiful, deeply perceptive, haunting, and original. It is wonderful.”

—Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind

"Erlichman’s poems endeavor to take us beyond simplistic associations into beauty and chemistry, reverence and fear, astonishment and love... [Odes to Lithium] is rooted in the sense of wonder that can permeate even the darkest moments — how surprising that we find ourselves here, alive and breathing, unerased."


" artist in full control of her craft. There’s nothing easy about these poems, in their reading or in their creation, and that makes them worth exploring in greater depth."

(Why I Chose Shira Erlichman's Odes to Lithium for the Rumpus Poetry Book Club)

"There is something incredibly biting and honest about Erlichman’s portrayal of mental illness, where the pain of her disorder also reveals the beautiful mechanics of the brain.."

(A Kind of Bliss: Odes to Lithium Review)


"Erlichman turns a confessional self-portrait of crisis into a chemical, chimerical joyride toward self-acceptance.”


"[Erlichman] pounds words into one, into transparent fusions that give away their own origin, the crash making the new words gallop inside of themselves. Like a heart."


“A beautiful, complicated look at mental illness… a moving testament to the medication for Bipolar Disorder...”


"Sometimes I wonder if we deserve Shira Erlichman and her beautiful mind. If there’s one thing this collection shows us, it is that there is joy and grace in this life, even alongside pain. Erlichman writes each moment with such skill and precision every poem is full of resilience and thoughtfulness."

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"Erlichman’s authentic perspective and electric language work to quicken the reader’s pulse. She writes with grace, honesty, and ferocity about her experience with mental illness."

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"My family struggles with bipolar disorder, so finding this gracious, soaring collection was a godsend. I even laughed out loud a few times — a laugh of recognition, of feeling less alone, which is really the most you can ask of any book.”
 —Mira Jacobs, author of Good Talk
    recommends  Odes to Lithium 


"Between these pages, you can exhale...Erlichman does not self-sensationalize or over-romanticize. Her odes are beautiful, yes, and they are drawn to find beauty in the world. It is a beauty that fiercely re-writes humanity into narratives of mental illness, rather than bleaching it out for the sake of narrative convenience."


"[Odes to Lithium] is so powerful, so necessary. It is a perfect bridge between generations, between neurotypical and neurodivergent, between the quiet and the unquiet mind... This book is, quite simply, indispensable."


"Reverent, painful and just as likely to make you laugh as to clock you in the solar plexus…the collection bobs and weaves, at once humorous and heartbreaking."


"While graciously offering a look into the struggles of mental illness, Erlichman also presents a path to wholeness and acceptance through truth and humor. She writes in an inventive and striking way, and her poems are memorably illustrated with her own artwork."


“Erlichman’s honesty in reckoning with mental illness in this collection is engulfing. Her visceral language (accompanied by vivid drawings and collages) brings the reader through the rippling effects of bipolar disorder and triumphantly emerges from the murky waters of stigma.” 


"Erlichman’s [poems] bring a new kind of wonder to our conversations about mental illness, a tenderness not just towards the self, but towards the medication that makes the self’s continued existence possible."


"It’s unlike any book I’ve ever read, and Shira is a champion for writing exciting and fresh, so soulful and abundant and naked—I’m astounded by Shira’s use of language and her generosity in telling her truth..."


"Despite the gravity of the content, Erlichman weaves a book that is equal parts stark and lyrical, bold and lighthearted. Diverse and thoughtful drawings mirror free form poetry before turning into a collection of standalone paragraphs at the turn of the page. This spontaneity of form perfectly encapsulates both the nature of the illness and the road to learning to live with it through medication. In the process of sharing her personal experience with lithium and biopolar disorder, she also reveals a sparkling and resilient view of one’s own identity and place in the world." 

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"This collection approaches our humanity with divine surrealism and truth...These poems are odes to Lithium but also odes to the triumph of the human mind and spirit, to friends and mothers and lovers. Each poem brings the reader closer to a reality that prioritizes empathy and the sharing of our hard, individual truths. "


“Shira Erlichman’s poems transmit experience that nearly defies language, leaving the reader drenched with a new reading of the human: the effects of the mind’s rupture, the enigma of the body’s messages, the terror of one’s own infinitely ingenious yet alien logic. The voice of these pages comments wryly on others’ wary, frightened reactions that increase anguish in the name of helping. The poems trace encounters with mental illness that could not be encompassed by anything but Erlichman's honed and startling language and her visual accompaniment of images, each page burnished into a glittering object.”

—Annie G. Rogers, Ph.D., author of A Shining Affliction, The Unsayable and Incandescent Alphabets: Psychosis and The Enigma of Language.

“Oh, Radiance. Survival and Surviving Field. How rare, an Eye like this, so able to access its marrow language—original, honest, dear, strange. These poems document and enact processes of finding a language imaginative and struggling enough to carry one’s life. Moving us through imagistic splay and shift, the line is Erlichman’s measure: ‘I know what the sea knows / with the bottom of its mind / unfathomed.’ These poems, I think, are little ‘sight’-engines—miraculous, fevered, whirring things. I’m astonished by breath and lasting at all. I ‘pull a flower / from her skull / & weave it into mine.’ I love her way, her mind.”

—Aracelis Girmay, Whiting Award Winner and author of The Black Maria, Kingdom Animalia, and Teeth

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"In Be/Hold: A Friendship Book visual artist, poet, and musician Shira Erlichman opens with the line, 'Sweetheart, sometimes when I'm feeling blue I put my ear to the wind and listen for you,' building a one-of-a-kind story of friendship from her love of compound words (i.e. toothbrush, windbreaker, behold) in a book that uplifts, encourages, and honors the people we care about most."

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"Be/Hold is filled to the brim with love – for friends, for ourselves, and for language...

Erlichman does not shy away from the fact that being alive is not a simple task. It is full of complications and challenges, many of which can feel insurmountable. But with its sparse, precise text and imaginative, abstract illustrations, this brilliant little book shows us how much more wonderful life can be when we choose love, even when we are at our lowest. When we learn to grow together, rather than drift apart.

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