by Madeline Dyer
It’s not often I review poetry collections, but Madeline Dyer’s makes for an exception as it is an exceptional read. Being a fan of her YA Dystopian series ‘Untamed’ (reviewed quite a few times on this blog) I knew alrighty that she had a talent for vivid imagery, but this collection puts that talent on full display. It’s astounding, and, frankly, terrifying: it details a slow descent into darkness, madness, chronicling the ways your brain can turn against you.
I just want to get better and see the stars and believe in hope again.
Captive, Madeline Dyer’s first poetry collection, is based on the therapy writings she produced when she was experiencing psychosis and OCD due to Autoimmune Basal Ganglia Encephalitis, a rare type of brain inflammation caused by the immune system attacking the brain. While her communication skills and cognitive abilities diminished due to the effects of the inflammation, she was able to share her thoughts and emotions via the written word, a process that gave her great comfort when she otherwise felt possessed.
Captive provides readers with a glimpse of her tormented mind during this dark time of loneliness, loss, and fear.
It’s not every day you get to see directly into someone’s mind. Dyer’s poetry chronicles the evolution of her disease, Autoimmune Basal Ganglia Encephalitis, a type of brain inflammation which presents itself in her mind as OCD and psychosis. How terrifying must it be to be trapped inside your mind as it feeds you lies? To know what’s happening but unable to do anything about it? To reach out for help and have no one believe you?
You need no longer wonder. This book is so raw and personal you can’t help but feel angry and afraid, hopeful and heartbroken. More than a person recounting these things to you, Dyer uses poetry to connect with you deeper. The poems are varied in style and tone, but are so well connected, they have a real thread between them. Reading the collection is an experience, almost like being a part of a performative art piece.
I don’t think it’s extreme of me to say that it’s like holding the piece of someone’s soul, laid bare. An absolute must read.
Excerpt: Looking Through Water
Tear-stained and bleary,
the shapes of the world
merge and the wrens
too many of them
inside my head
scratching sand into my brain
and I want to escape it all
and swim up, up, up,
until my head breaks the surface
where the sun is warm
and the sky is blue
and the birds aren’t out to get me
and my mind isn’t broken.
But my eyes are heavy,Looking Through Water, Madeline Dyer, Captive,
They weigh my mind down,
anchors from my skull,
and everything is too blurry
and I wake in the night
because I can’t see
and my eyes are inside out.