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Me, Interrupted: Mental Illness and the Search for a True Self

November 17 at 7:00 PM

Mental illness is often portrayed as something that happens to us.

As our brains revolt, we’re told our “true selves” are buried somewhere under all that mania, depression, and madness. As one heals from the symptoms of mental illness, the existential question lingers: who am I really? If I’m better now, then who was the manic me? What is capital S “Self”? What constructs a cohesive mind?

While some argue that mental illness pushes us further from the person we once were, others argues that a brain illness expands the very notion of identity and autonomy. Come for a reading and conversation with two mentally ill artists whose art resists easy narratives of selfhood.


About the Readers

Sara Brickman is a queer, Jewish writer, performer, and community organizer from Ann Arbor, Michigan. The winner of the Split This Rock Poetry Prize and a five-time member of Seattle slam teams, Sara has received grants and scholarships from the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Yiddish Book Center, 4Culture, and more. A BOAAT Writers Fellow and Ken Warfel Fellow for Poetry in Community, their poems and prose appear in Narrative, Adriot, the Indiana Review, Muzzle, and the anthologies Ghosts of Seattle Past, The Dead Animal Handbook, and Courage: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls. Sara holds an MFA from the University of Virginia and lives in Seattle where they teach writing to youth and adults, and parent a cat named Latke.

Photo by Hieu Minh Nguyen

Shira Erlichman is a poet, musician, and visual artist. She was born in Israel and immigrated to the US when she was six. Her poems explore recovery—of language, of home, of mind—and value the “scattered wholeness” of healing. She earned her BA at Hampshire College and has been awarded the James Merrill Fellowship by the Vermont Studio Center, the Visions of Wellbeing Focus Fellowship at AIR Serenbe, as well as a residency by the Millay Colony. Her work has been featured in Buzzfeed Reader, the Rumpus, PBS NewsHour’s Poetry Series, the Huffington Post, and the New York Times, among others. Her debut poetry book, Odes to Lithium, came out in September 2019. She is also the author and illustrator of the picture book Be/Hold. When not on tour, she lives in Brooklyn where she teaches writing and creates.

Nic Masangkay writes poetry Buzzfeed claims “will leave you speechless.” Embraced by Seattle’s LGBTQ writing community as a teen, Nic has since gone on to perform locally and nationally in cities such as Portland, Los Angeles, and New York. Nic’s piece, “My Gender Is for Mothers,” originally written for the University of Washington’s The ____ Monologues, has been highlighted by College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) 2013, AutostraddleBuzzfeed, 18millionRising, and The Shade. Nic is currently writing and recording spoken word for their DARK AT DUSK: The Final Suicide project as part of their Artist Support Program residency at Jack Straw Cultural Center.