Yet Another Alice Fallen: Adventures in Disassociation- Poetry Book Review
By: Christine McFarlane
Disassociation-is an unexpected partial or complete disruption of the normal integration of a person’s conscious or psychological functioning that cannot be easily explained by the person. Disassociation is a mental process that severs a connection to a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions or sense of identity. Disassociation is a normal response to trauma, and allows the mind to distance itself from experiences that are too much for the psyche to process at that time.
“Yet Another Alice Fallen: Adventures in Disassociation” is Clair Itey’s follow up to her first poetry book “Substituting Dangers: A Journey with PTSD.” It goes on to further explore experiences of repeated trauma, but this time with a focus on another psychological disorder-disassociation.
Itey makes parallels with Lewis Carrol’s classic tale “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” and I find it interesting how she claims the identity of Alice-not Carroll’s Alice but a fictional Alice that travels and weaves words together to examine the remnants of her fractured memories, and confronts strained relations with family and within her own self.
Itey’s words weave together with experiences and wisdom of other writers, poets, philosophers and survivors. The words of these others woven with her words make the poetry more poignant and powerful, and I especially like how the poem “History” reads and speaks.
“Seeing her freeze, he turns his face away. They poise and grieve as in some old tragedy.” (Sylvia Plath)
I carry my history in strange packages which I don’t know how to give to you
I expect there was a time when you could have come to me
And I could have held them out for you, bundle by bundle
Your dark hands unraveling, decoding…
But now our exchanges are always mute, genderless
I don’t know what to ask you.
My past, as my questions remain with me.
I have nothing left to offer, to reconcile.
Over and over I wonder who it is that I really desire;
How to remember those first nights, those first exchanges.
Before we had choices;
Before our histories freed us from one body
And locked us into another.
Another interesting poem is one titled “Recovery.” Within the “Recovery” poem, Itey confronts the use of psychiatric medication in order to help with her condition. She states
“The legacy they left for me
fits snuggly into a small capsule.
I ingest it nightly now;
It becomes a nightly addiction.
There are many that would
protest, or even shudder
Make claims that medication
But I will take any peace I can
Decoriously or defiantly.”
The Recovery poem really grabbed my attention because it speaks of legacy, and what is left behind. It reminded me that through what is left behind in whatever legacy there is, that survivors of abuse or trauma have to learn how to cope, and sometimes that help comes in the form of prescribed medication.. There is the notion that the use of medication to help someone cope is bad and I believe that Itey confronts this by saying, it can be okay, especially if it gives someone in recovery a chance at peace of mind.
“Yet Another Alice Fallen: Adventures in Disassociation” is published by iUniverse Books and can be ordered through your nearest bookstore or by contacting iUniverse Books directly and is 61 pages.