Out of the Crazywoods

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Out of the Crazywoods

Cheryl Savageau

American Indian Lives Series

256 pages

Hardcover

May 2020

978-1-4962-1903-9

$29.95 Pre-order

About the Book

Out of the Crazywoods is the riveting and insightful story of Abenaki poet Cheryl Savageau’s late-life diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Without sensationalizing, she takes the reader inside the experience of a rapid-cycling variant of the disorder, providing a lens through which to understand it and a road map for navigating the illness. The structure of her story—impressionistic, fragmented—is an embodiment of the bipolar experience and a way of perceiving the world.

Out of the Crazywoods takes the reader into the euphoria of mania as well as its ugly, agitated rage and into “the lying down of desire” that is depression. Savageau articulates the joy of being consort to a god and the terror of being chased by witchcraft, the sound of voices that are always chattering in your head, the smell of wet ashes that invades your home, the perception that people are moving in slow motion and death lurks at every turnpike, and the feeling of being loved by the universe and despised by everyone you’ve ever known.

Central to the journey out of the Crazywoods is the sensitive child who becomes a poet and writer who finds clarity in her art and a reason to heal in her grandchildren. Her journey reveals the stigma and the social, personal, and economic consequences of the illness but reminds us that the disease is not the person. Grounded in Abenaki culture, Savageau questions cultural definitions of madness and charts a path to recovery through a combination of medications, psychotherapy, and ceremony.

 

Author Bio

Cheryl Savageau teaches at Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. She is the author of the poetry collections Home Country, Dirt Road Home, and Mother/Land. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation.  
 

Praise

“With lyrical language and powerful episodic storytelling Cheryl Savageau brings luminous clarity to her experience of navigating the Crazywoods. She draws us into an inner world, both mythic and mystifying, of being bipolar, which at times reflects the dynamic intricacy of New England’s recovering forestland but also illuminates the ongoing activity and struggle of alnôbawôgan, being and becoming human.”—Lisa Brooks, author of The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast

“Cheryl Savageau’s memoir Out of the Crazywoods maps the experience of ‘bipolar’ again and again—defining and redefining, remembering and remaking, etching and resketching the shape, substance, sensation, and sentiment of her experience of ‘being’ bipolar and coming to that diagnosis and recognition. . . . Savageau’s luminous prose ripples, soars, and shines with grounded honesty, some biting humor, and richly textured sensory detail (some quite synesthetic). This is a compelling work of complex embodiment, complicated relations (with self and other), and careful narrative. It demonstrates how one writes identity and, too, how identity can be (well) written.”—Brenda Jo Brueggemann, editor of Disability Studies Quarterly

“Abenaki poet and memoirist Cheryl Savageau’s stunning collection of braided vignettes, leads us through the chaos many of us know, toward tenuous, hard-won places of compassion, joy and possibility. Savageau writes, ‘I live on that edge between what is true, what is sacred and magical, and where madness begins.’ Yes, this memoir is disturbing, disruptive—and reading it, we are stronger, heartened for this journey between spaces of identity, the cusps and edges of brilliance, becoming human.”—Deborah A. Miranda, author of Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir

Table of Contents

About This Book

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Bagw and Tekw

Under the Crib

The Pivot Point

Learning to Speak

What It Is

Age 3-- The Witch In the Bag

Angels

Diagnosis

Dirt

She’s Not Heavy

The Tarot

Tiger Butter

LOOK

Age 7–The Body Book

Poppies

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At the Welfare Office

Exuberance

Shopping

Crazy Lady in Grad School

In Fourth Grade

What’s Happening?

Jungle Road

Blackouts

Voices

The Bad Mother

Exceptional Children

The Twirling Skirt

Crazy Talk I

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The Death Turnpike

Life in the Fast Lane

Meds

Arthur Lloyd

shades

The Bra Thing

I Am In Love With Rita Moreno

Crazy Talk II

Beautiful Doll

The Ugly Year

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Krishna, My Love

Poetry for Breakfast

Cribbage

Teaching Castaneda

Losing Them

Meditation–The Barren Road

The Taster

Horse Dream I

Wretched

Baby

Sunday Afternoon With Betty Grable

Islands of Sanity: Poetry

My Bookstore

The New House at Center Harbor

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When You Can’t Keep A Job

Denied

Islands of Sanity: Grandsons

Crazy Talk III

Getting Fat on Anti-depressants

To Whom It May Concern;

Memere Stories: Sing á Memere

Sunday Dinners

Pookie

Peach Cobbler

Falling in Love with Diane

Talk Doc: Julie

Grand Poobah

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The Land of Enchantment Part I

Stories and Storms

New York in Albuquerque

Leaving

The Witch At the Wake

Land of Enchantment II

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China Doll

My Special One

After Dropping Acid on a School Night

Yeats

You Bet Your Life

Crazy Talk: Lonely

Eating Worms I

My Mother’s Side

Ceremony

Falling Into Grace

A Paycheck Away

Seven Mice

Christmas With Tarot Cards

Geraniums

Citizens For Citizens

Wet Ashes

The Eighth Mouse

Goodmorning;

Memere Stories: Paint

Not Connect: Abilify Mania

Piano

Memere Stories: Talking

<space>

Talk Doc: Karen

Listenings

Giving Myself to Beauty

The Green Quilt

Memere Stories: Howling

Eating Worms II

Greeley Park, Nashua–The Tree

Maura’s Bag

Talk Doc: The Real Work

Relearning the Habits of Childhood

Crying For Real

Horse Dream II

Math Games

Meditation–Fern

Ambien: The Butterfly, Lock and Key

SAD

Nearly Normal

Memere Stories: Baseball

Stigma

What It Is For

Happy

Alnôbawôgan

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Acknowledgments

Previous Books

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