A diverse anthology of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction compiled from writers in the mental health and addiction communities.
The latest in InkWell Workshops’ groundbreaking anthology series, this volume features poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction from twenty-eight talented writers who are participants in the workshops. Led by accomplished professional writers with “unruly minds,” InkWell is a liberatory project that offers free creative opportunities to people with mental health and addiction issues. With themes of nourishment and desire, madness and connection, grief and hunger for a new world, these are fierce writings from the margins: honest, defiant, funny, and wise.
About the author
InkWell Workshops offers creative writing workshops to adults living with mental health and addictions issues led by accomplished professional writers with lived experience. Founded in 2016, the workshops bring together a lively, intergenerational mix of emerging talents from every part of Toronto.
Excerpt: Brilliance Is the Clothing I Wear (edited by InkWell Workshops)
Chinese Food with David
I was always happy when David suggested we order in Chinese food. It was kind of romantic, and I loved how it was “our thing” to do, when we could leave our troubles behind and just eat.
Sometimes he paid for it, bless his heart. I didn’t always have the money. The food was so abundant, it made me feel like I was in Heaven. His healthy appetite almost startled me; he ate heartily, and with a grace and countenance that expressed real gratitude.
That’s what I loved most about him—he always seemed so grateful for his lot. I, on the other hand, struggled to eat. I fluctuated between two states: feeling glory with all this food, then suddenly retreating in embarrassment that I actually had an appetite at all.
My eating disorder was quite pronounced in those days. Years ago, my sister had humiliated me in front of the whole family at an Italian restaurant. I was very hungry, and I announced to the table what I would be ordering. My sister looked at me and said flatly, “You are obese!”
I will never forget that day. She has also called me a hindrance and a failure, and she insists that I do nothing to help myself—that I stay in a rut, get in trouble with bad people, and don’t care about my own life.
Anyway, David was full of a bountiful generosity, whereby I did not usually feel guilty about eating, did not hate myself for being hungry, did not feel remorse when I looked at him, and did not regret the $6.50 meal. It accented our sex life, as after eating, we both had energy and strength to make love while also feeling that we loved ourselves.
The peace in our relationship lasted for some time. Then my mother complained about the cost of Chinese food and said, “When you get a job, that’s when you can entertain or eat takeout food.”
Since then I have felt a permanent guilt about eating restaurant food. It’s no wonder I am grumpy and lost—poverty zaps nearly all my strength. Whereas my sister eats exactly what she wants, when she wants, with whom she wants.
My starvation doesn’t get noticed or addressed anymore. But when and if I eat Chinese food again, I’ll remember David as a friend who loved my belly, breasts, and rotund arms. Even when I was hungry.
By sharing their truths in this polished, triumphant collection, [the contributors] prove their moments of darkness don't define them.
Quill & Quire
The authors of the pieces collected in this anthology are clad in brilliance ... Through their collective vulnerabilities and sensitivities, they seek to guide and welcome us into a community of bravery and battered hearts.
Roxanna Bennett, winner of the Trillium Award for Poetry