Local poet to speak on bipolarity, creativityWritten by Patrick Timmis | | email@example.com
Michael Hackney loves to create.
“My poetry means everything to me. I’m always thinking about my art,” he said.
The 42-year-old local poet will speak on the link between bipolarity and art from 6-8 p.m., July 5 at Toledo’s Locke Branch Library. Hackney, who has bipolar disorder, will follow the talk with an exercise in free-writing poetry.
Hackney said he will focus on the work of three “confessional” poets who struggled with mental disorders — John Berryman, Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell.
He will also speak on his personal journey with bipolar disorder, which he said is linked to his creativity.
“Those of us with bipolar have experiences to talk about that normal people do not,” he said. “For instance, much of my subject matter deals with being in hospitals … or being on a manic high when you feel like you’re invincible.”
Hackney lacked direction in life until a Northview High School teacher introduced him to the works of a pioneer of American art.
“I fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe when I was a kid,” Hackney said. “I wanted to be just like him.”
He studied creative writing at Bowling Green State University and earned his master’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Toledo in 2007.
He began writing poetry at BGSU, attracted by its freedom and spontaneity. Two books of his poetry have been published, “Learning to Write” in 2003 and “Mid-Western Shoes” in 2007.
Hackney is working on a new collection of poems about all the girlfriends and lovers who have come into his life.
He is also looking for an agent for his first novel, which he finished in January. “Abby Normal” is a love story about eight poets living in upstate New York during the 1980s, incorporating Hackney’s poetry into the plot.
Excerpt from ‘Abby Normal’
by Michael Hackney:
“Just outside the doors of the public library, a handful of people are hovering about a standing ashtray; smoking and talking in hushed voices. A young boy in navy blue sweat pants checks his watch and smiles as Abby hurriedly approaches, flipping her sunglasses up into her shining auburn hair. Her eyes adjust quickly to the shimmering light. Everything around is lush and green and blooming, due to the perfect balance of sunlight and rain.
Tiny, helicopter-shaped seeds are blowing into Abby’s bag as she reaches for a handful of pocket folders and a splotched and tattered notebook. Poetry is not a science, she thinks to herself: Poetry is made up of descriptive words charged with emotion. Free verse is a liberating and satisfying aesthetic, provided the stanzas are concise, uniform, consistent or strong, and not overly flowery. T.S. Eliot is superior to Whitman, but this should go without saying, Abby concludes. Anyone with a brain can see the obvious distinction.”