Hybrid Writing — The Falling Sickness
Essay-poem hybrid writing by Charles Bane, Jr.
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]f all the gifts a poet can be given, epilepsy is the richest. I fell when I was four. It was kept hidden by my family; my father had it scrubbed from my medical records.
But my life was already deeply private, because I was a child poet and followed up an old, rusted way until I saw, in the same place where sparks and convulsions start, a vista I was too young to describe. I was enfranchised a citizen, of its creation everlasting. I saw its sleeping stars. No matter how many arrows I fire until my last poem, I can’t capture all its range, but every poem before and after is a generating seed, traveling in its sky.
That is why I am grateful for my epilepsy; the population of words is not privileged. When Emily Dickinson, who was confined by her epilepsy wrote that hope is the thing with feathers, she meant poetry. She meant that a soar of poems should bear away the dispossessed and—always—give them voice. When I seizure, the rent is unpaid. My only car halts on the interstate, and others hurry by. My legs convulse and danger comes. If I’m in a restaurant, the adjoining table stares, unwelcome, at a stranger.
But not my beloved wife. When we met, I told her that I’d fallen down a stairway, and now sometimes I’m anxious or unsteady.
“The disease of kings”, she simply said.
How long since we changed the oil?
When I seizure, I’m confused. I
never told a soul until I met you. I was
afraid of small towns; by force
of will I begged sometimes to be
excused. Grand mal, you said, it
sounds so lovely; it sounds like
a painting Sargent might make
of Venetian canals. Let’s walk
starling, you said, and if
you drop, I’ll stop mid-flight
to dip in foam.
Charles Bane, Jr. publishes occasional fiction, but his writing life is devoted to poetry and its advocacy. His first book of poetry came to the notice of Past U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall, who corresponded with him for a year. These letters were donated to The Paris Review and University of Michigan. Bane is the author of The Chapbook, I Meet Geronimo and Other Stories, Ends of the Earth: Collected Poems of Charles Bane, Jr., and The Ascent of Feminist Poetry. His work was described by the Huffintong Post as “not only standing on the shoulders of giants, but shrinking them.”
He is married to a beautiful, third-generation Southern cook, and they have one son who is a gifted painter.
The Woven Tale Press is happy to include this essay-poem hybrid as its second National Poetry Month 2016 feature.
National Poetry Month 2016 Features Schedule at The Woven Tale Press
Sun, Apr 3, 2016—Spotlight: Michael Dickel, Associate Editor, Poet
Mon, Apr 4, 2016—Essay-Poem Hybrid Writing by American Poet Charles Banes
Wed, Apr 6, 2016—Donna Kuhn, my lies have titles, video
Fri, Apr 8, 2016—Eleanore Hooker—Interview
Wed, Apr 13, 2016—In Paris—Charles Bane, Jr., Reading | Video
Mon, Apr 18, 2016—A Poem from Natasha Head
Wed, Apr 20, 2016—My Entrepreneurial Spirit | Video Poetry | Aaron Fagan
Mon, Apr 25, 2016—Poet Activists
Wed, Apr 27, 2016—David Loret De Mola — Guerrilla Poetry