"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."
“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.
"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."
"...an 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."
“A beautiful, complicated look at mental illness… a moving testament to the medication for Bipolar Disorder...”
"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."
"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."
“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.”
“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
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.
"[Erlichman's] words aren’t just about conquering the stigma of lithium and of bipolar disorder, but of returning the care that lithium offers her, naming it anew the way one does a lover. “My baby.” “My little impossible guru.” "My monk." All of it is true and all of it disrupts what we think we know about mental illness, even those of us who share the label."