Friday, April 25, 2014

Artistic Interpretations with Margaret - Willard Asylum

Lisa Gordon Photography

From the Diary of Anna Anderson: 

I. Open Ward at the Elisabeth Hospital, Berlin 1920

My tongue is a spoon
Does that explain it?  Door opens  door
closes.   White coats stammer the threshold.

for the rest of the poem, click HERE (from "Sum of Every Lost Ship", by Allison Titus)

and HERE is another.

This is a rather in-depth and "linked" challenge.  I apologize it isn't more straightforward and if you don't have time, please feel free to write to one of the two images presented on this post.  

Lisa Gordon is a photographer I have followed almost since the beginning of my blogging life.  Her sensitivity and talent never fails to delight me.

The photo above is from the Willard Asylum, opened in 1869, closed in 1995.  She toured this facility and photographed it   On her blog post of May 19, 2013 she writes:

"Just a little over 8 months ago I read about a project that to me, is a photographer's dream.  Named "The Willard Suitcases", it is an ongoing project by photographer Jon Crispin, who is photographing the contents of suitcases left behind by patients of The Willard Insane Asylum.  Located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, the asylum opened in 1869 and was closed in 1995.  During the time it was operational, 50,000 patients called it home.  Six thousand died there.  Of those, 5,776 now rest in graves marked with only a number and a stick topped by a red flag.  There names are unknown.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to tour Willard.  I cannot adequately describe the state of disrepair many of the buildings are in, and more than that, how it felt to be inside some of the buildings, so I will let the photographs speak for themselves.  These are NOT "feel-good" photographs.

 - her favorite photos are HERE.

We are allowed to use these images linked above with our poems if we give credit to Lisa Gordon and a link to her web-site, Lisa Gordon Photography.

BUT WAIT, there is more.

Lisa Gordon Photography
Jon Crispin is an artist who recently completed a successful Kickstarter compaign to fund his "Willard Suitcases" project.  HERE is an article written by David Rosenberg of "Slate" introducing and explaining the "Willard Suitcases" project.

HERE is Jon Crispin's personal website.  You will find some of the suitcases and their contents photographed and his thoughts shared.  We do not have permission to use his thoughts and images (I did not ask) so do not plagiarize or take his images.  I linked so that we can get inspiration from them.  If you do, please help spread the awareness of this project by also mentioning it on your post.

* * *

A bit of Additional information about Willard Psychiatric Center (a timeline)  HERE

There was a performance called "The Echos of Willard" It took five of the suitcases and their contents and used live performance to bring the patients to life …  HERE is the link and the five people: Irma, Rodrigo, Madeline, Dmytre, and Ethel are highlighted and linked in the header.   I would have loved to see this performance!

… some notes:  I'd like to think not all experiences in the asylums were bad, perhaps for some, it was a better place to be?  I'd like to think the doctors and staff did their best with the "known" medicine of the time - which of course, today, we are left feeling horrified at many of the treatments the patients received.

Many mentally ill patients were thought to be ill due to moral or spiritual failings.  Punishment and shame were often handed down to the mentally ill as well as their families.  

U.S. National Library of Medicine: Diseases of the Mind  is interesting reading.

Write a poem that is full of personal emotion, sentiment, longing, confusion… wherever your mind takes you.  I want this poem to be written in first person.  You may take on the persona of someone from history, a book, a movie, or just one you imagine.  

Mr. Linky is ready and waiting below.  Please enter your specific post and for this challenge.  I am looking for new and original poems.  If Sunday is a busy day, remember, tomorrow is Open Link Monday here at the Garden and you are free to post there as well.  Now of with your creative selves, and give me your best artistic interpretations!


Anonymous said...

Margaret, fascinating. I saw the Willard exhibit at the SF Exploratorium. Impactful, sad, and highly illuminating. Much of the mental health apparatus in the US was dismantled in the 1980's under President Reagan. Where do people go now? ~

Fireblossom said...

Excellent, excellent challenge, Margaret!

Margaret said...

Grapeling - so many state run facilities have closed especially in the past ten years. No funding I suppose. There are a few "centers" but the hold only a few and only a specific "type". They are not hospitals and get sent to the ear for clearance. Others walk in or get "dumped" in the ER and occupy beds for days. It is a huge problem

Margaret said...

ER. Not ear.

Anonymous said...

Loved, loved, loved this one! So many angles, so much creativity... Thank you Margaret!

hedgewitch said...

I remember when they started closing down all the asylums(state & government run) and how many people were just evicted onto the street. Of course, I also remember when friends were threatened during their rebellious teens with being 'put away' by their parents--some actually were, for a host of inadequate reasons, from sexual conduct to avoiding the draft, mostly just the inability of their parents to deal with them. This is a fantastic challenge Margaret and I thank you for it as I was totally at a standstill today. Off to brood over it.

Sumana Roy said...

Thanks margaret for the prompt....

Anonymous said...

Great challenge, Margaret. Most of the inmates who would have been in those institutions closed by Reagan have drifted from street to jail. Prisons are now both cruel and mad. I think we all carry the asylum somewhere inside. A shrink who was treating my cousin for schizophrenia once said that we all have the voices, its just don't have the biology and psychology to quell them.

Yvonne Osborne said...

This is a good challenge. Thank you. So very interesting.....what they left behind. And then there are the problems left behind when all of our state facilities were closed ( back to the great communicator)without another system in place. So they end up in jail and under overpasses and on corners with their hands out.

Kerry O'Connor said...

A fascinating subject and excellent challenge, Margaret.

Marian said...

what a great prompt, Margaret. thank you.

Grandmother Mary said...

This is a stunning article and challenge, Margaret. Thank you. The largest provider of mental health services now is the prison system. They are in no way up to this overwhelming challenge.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Margaret, I have to chuckle. I have been completely uninspired lately but for this prompt, I have a ton of material. I could write a dozen poems. Thank you!

Ella said...

Fascinating! When I was first diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid, I read years ago before meds, people were put in asylums-sad, but true!
How terrible it is to think of those who weren't mentally ill, but misunderstood and no solution at this time. Sad n' tragic~

Thank you Margaret!

Susan said...

This prompt took me by surprise, but not with nothing to say. Thanks!

Charleen said...

This poem was very painful for me to write.

Susie Clevenger said...

Margaret, thank you for such a moving challenge. I know too well the horror of institutions such as this. When I was a child my neighbor spent time in one, was given shock therapy, and we saw its effects when she came home.

Margaret said...

All of you… I am so thrilled you liked this prompt. Believe it or not, I almost deleted it! I have yet to finish mine - Friday and tomorrow (Saturday) I am swamped and I am going to read all of the poems now and will comment tomorrow night.

I have been chomping at the bit all day to get back home to read these poems! Thank you, thank you! And late poems are welcome - ONE day is hardly enough time and I will be submitting mine on Open Link Monday.

Hannah said...

Thank you for the challenge Margaret...WONDERFUL images! :)

Kay L. Davies said...

I meant to link to Ella's challenge, and I got it wrong. Now I can't unlink it.
I just couldn't do the asylum challenge, Margaret, so sorry.

Lisa Gordon said...

To All of You~
You have woven such wonderful words into the photographs. You are an extremely talented group of poets you are, and I thank you, truly.


Margaret said...

Posting so late… Have had such a busy weekend - I will comment tomorrow night. Traveling all day tomorrow and will be home in the evening. I am thrilled with what I have read on my iPhone so far.

Mimi Foxmorton said...

Absolutely fascinating!
Thank you so much for choosing this topic and allowing us to share.

Margaret said...

I want to applaud the effort so fall the poets who wrote to my prompt! Life has kept me crazy busy this past few weeks - I have been itching to get back here and read these poems! I look forward to your creativity each month and this one was really dear to my heart. Thank you.