Light On Water: Bipolar Reflections


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Poetry And Prose- 1995-2009
By Jeremy Gluck

ISBN: 978-1-84747-956-3
Published: 2009
Pages: 173
Key Themes: prose, poetry, bipolar disorder, manic depression, recovery, empowerment


Complimenting the narrative of his Chipmunka debut “Victim of Dreams”, his memoir of his childhood in Canada and adult descent into bipolar illness, and eventual exploration of and recovery from it, “Bipolar Reflections: Light on Water” is by turns mystical, spiritual – even cynical – but never mediocre or passive. Some of it is indeed the voice of dreams but more of it is the authentic expression of a gifted writer determined to express himself because of and in spite of an illness that has colonised but never conquered him. “Bipolar Reflections: Light on Water” is, in the end, about life, and the ways some of us live it, aware of death, feeling close to God, but mostly true to its impulse to create.

About the Author

Jeremy Gluck, born late 1958, is an expatriate Canadian who, with a parallel, successful life in the arts, is now involved in the voluntary mental health sector. “Bipolar Reflections: Light on Water” compiles poetry and prose written before, during and after the diagnosis that introduced him to the reality of his mental illness and the journey since that has taken him through and beyond many ideas and experiences comprising a recovery the discoveries of which form the backbone of his Chipmunka book, “A Definitive Guide to Mental Health Recovery”.

Book Extract

In retrospect, at distance of time and mind, much of what one has written seems more than just strange, it seems written by a stranger: unknown. I see the commonality of my writings, how they come from myself and, intended to reach the world if only haphazardly, bear the imprint of my being. Yet now some of that being has been amputated by what others call madness and I call myself, worn by time into often vague and very naïve shapes. I don’t relate to these ciphers of myself, they key to their code is through disuse now lost to me.

Not all of the writings, however, are lost. Some are prodigal and a minority intimates, my reminders of who and what I am, good and bad, but never indifferent, symbols of passion, belief, faith or momentous experience that I paid with, as Ginsberg put it, “pieces of phantom”, the ghosts of myself that – like all of us – haunt me as contemporaries with no more appointments to keep.

The writing in this book begins with the most recent, then cycles back to about 1997. At that time I had bought my first computer out of an insurance payout for a house fire that destroyed most of my writing archive to that time, maybe ten to fifteen years worth. My first writing on the computer, a fragmentary memoir of my childhood, much later became my debut for Chipmunka, “Victim of Dreams”.

In 1997 my inner – and outer – world was quite different than it is today. My lifelong interest in religion, spirituality and mysticism was the core of my creative drive and informed all I wrote. Now an atheist, it is strange to regard myself then, a believer and sometimes forceful advocate of belief in God. Madness is indispensable to mysticism, and in mania they make for a heady blend; in depression, too.

This volume’s pieces on love, “the mystery”, and more, show the “clean” place I was in then, where even my sickness was healthy and I had plans bigger than my mind, big as my heart. The poetry that follows is where the story of who now am really begins, the shadows are falling from within and growing on my daily life. Infidelity and delusion take root, but insight grows, too. I am cursed with more awareness, and nowhere with less welcome given than to awareness of myself, that burden meant to be so virtuous yet in practice for most of us merely a millstone.

How I lost my faith I am not sure but it went away. My later writing, in the latter part of this volume, attests to writing from greater age, experience devoid of wisdom, and a reluctance to believe in myself or anything or anybody else. It seems to me now that we create God, to feel loved, to feel forgiven. There are not really so many mysteries, except perhaps in Nature, which is rightfully suspicious of us and tries to conceal them. Past life is that part of my life simply drawn back by striving. The future is what it makes of us. As for the present, it is no more a dream than it is a reality. It’s what we breathe.

I was saying to someone yesterday, a fellow sufferer (of themselves?) that the life of the artist is largely comprised of a coping strategy called “creativity”, constant self-distraction and thereby, and an impulsion to forever be “doing” things. Maybe at its centre inspiration is void?

I’ve put at the beginning of this collection the most recent of my writings, including those on mental illness (the book ends likewise with very recent work). It seems appropriate to emphasise what I think, feel and know now about myself and bipolar disorder, as a way of introducing the person – people? – I am that wrote the rest, over many years and through phases of wellness and sickness. The rest follows.

I have annotated the writing where I feel it appropriate, to give context and relationship to later work. Some of the poetry is also song lyrics; where this is so I have denoted its commercial release and other relevant details.


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