Ward Stories: Mostly Poetry

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Cindy Sostchen, Poetry Editor

Send submissions for Ward Stories to: New York City Voices, Box 2618 Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163, or email to:

November/December 1997
"Cindy Sostchen is now New York City Voices' Poetry Editor ... We reprint Cindy Sostchen's original poem, Ward Stories in this issue."

January/February 1998
"Samuel Pirro, whose work many of you may have already read ... offers us his 'Ward Story' in this issue. For those of you who have 'been there,' you know Samuel Pirro and others writing ward stories are writing of very real experiences; unfortunately, too real."

March/April 1998
"In this issue we have two very special 'ward stories.' Both attest to the importance of family -- and of faith; in ourselves, and/or a higher power. Both speak to the importance of achieving and sustaining recovery, and the fact that doing so can be achieved through different approaches."

May/June/July 1998
"During times of inner turmoil, it is common for people to question things ... This questioning process is seen in both Angela's and my poems, but what is common to both is the recognition that we are in charge of our own destinies."

August/September 1998
"In this issue we highlight the poetry of Nancy A. Cayton ... While these poems evidence the fact that illness can make us feel unable to cope with everyday living (or sadly, like something is missing), there is also hope contained within the lines -- a plea to 'carry on' despite those negative feelings."

November/December 1998
"Diversity is the key and I am very proud to present these wonderful selections for this issue. But as varied as they are, and reflective of the authors' own voices, there is a similar theme. You will notice that each poem reflects on a Higher Power."

January/February 1999
"For the New Year, I wanted to inject a little humor into the poetic proceedings! ... I am happy to share with you Rick's comedic poem about something we are all familiar with - the phenomenon known as 'red tape.'"

March/April 1999
"We herald the arrival of spring! ... one can see the correlation between the beauty of nature and the power of God. ... I feel truly blessed that these lovely poems fell into my lap!"

May/June 1999
"I would like to share some poems with you. In re-reading these, I think, "what a different place I'm in now...," which makes me even more proud of the changes I have made. "

July/August 1999
"Mr. Williams is speaking of the everyday events which most people take for granted, but which are difficult to manage if you are in a state of psychic distress ... Ms. McManus, too, is contrasting the way in which one functions when they are emotionally healthy, with the stark terror one faces when illness strikes."

September/October 1999
"I submit to you a trio of new 'voices,' each with a personal story, each with a dramatic and powerful way of expressing him/herself."

November/December 1999
"This holiday season is a time for family... and I have my wonderful family to thank for the spiritual poems in this issue."

January/February 2000
"Eileen has  two passions: writing poetry and working with clients diagnosed with a mental illness."

March/April 2000
"Ms. Hollis hopes that people reading her poems will understand that they are not alone"

May/June 2000
"This issue features two accomplished and talented ladies, whose evocative and heart-rending poems will leave you breathless."

July/August 2000
"This poet is an 18-year-old Manhattanite who is planning to attend Hunter College in the fall. If you would like to read more of his interesting and provocative work, go to his website like I did.

September/October 2000
"Cecil Williams is our featured poet in this issue ... Bob Dylan and Walt Whitman 'in one fell swoop'"

November/December 2000
"Preparing the column for this issue has been a poignant affair for me"

January/February/March 2001
"These poets have "been there and done that," lived in the street, taken it to the edge, and are striving to find a peaceful existence."

April/May 2001
"Alison Carb Sussman ... is the recipient of an honorable mention in the Amelia Magazine poetry contest."

Jan/Mar 2002
"As we look to the future, we also solemnly remember the past-I have therefore included a poem which honors our personal hero, Ken Steele, and one that focuses on the recent tragedy that affected the world."

April/May 2002
We have two poets in this issue. An anonymous poet that has been out of the hospital for over 20 years, and a consumer/survivor who does project coordinating for the National Mental Health Association's executive office.

June/August 2002
"Karen Miller takes us back to our "roots" by sharing with us her own personal ward story. In reading the last five lines of "Myriads of Hospitalizations", I am moved to applaud Karen for her valiant struggle, and to remind us all that, yes, we are survivors!"

September/October 2002
"A year has gone by. We are still somber, still in mourning, still shaking our heads in disbelief. Many of us have written poems on paper or in our hearts, hoping such reflection will in some way make the pain dissipate."

November/December 2002
"At year's end we remember the past, we contemplate the future, we celebrate life, and we remember our loved ones."

January/March 2003
"I am feeling a bit nostalgic as I present the poetry of Samuel Pirro again. Sam has reminded me that the first time his work was featured in this column, it was 1997- when things were very different in this world.

July/September 2003
"Some poems need no title since the content itself says it all. Read the poem below and see if you agree with me that, even title-less, Ms. Minkowitz has captured the essence of what it is like to feel alienated from society. "

October/December 2003
"Our featured poet for this issue is Lynn Morton Nangano, whom I had the pleasure of "chatting" with one night over the internet. Lynn is a clerical worker at South Beach Psychiatric Center. Her list of influences is eclectic: Sylvia Plath, T.S. Eliot, Kurt Cobain, Carl Sagan and Chopin to name a few..."

January/March 2004
"Susan Osterman, a NYC-based poet, has published three books of poetry: Silence and Slow Time, Strip Mining and A Head of her Time. Recent publication credits include The Village Voice, Indiana Review and Gnosis, a bilingual anthology, in which four of her poems were translated into Russian."

April/June 2004
"This marks the second New York City Voices' welcome to the poetry of Barbara J. Gewirtz. Barbara enjoys "crafting" with poetry, watercolors, pastels and fabric collage.... In addition, Robert Reilly, a 57-year-old poet from Staten Island, continues to produce poetry from the unique grounds of South Beach Psychiatric Center where wild turkeys and geese are frequently seen foraging for food."

Fall 2004
"I have often stated my belief that the poetry I receive from the NYC Voices community are among the most emotionally rich and sincere poems that I have read (and I've read a lot of poetry!). The four poems below are seemingly different and, yet, in one way or another, they all capture summer in the city and the need to be heard. These poems validate not only the poets themselves, but those who have the good fortune to read them. Please keep these gems coming!"

Winter 2004
"A happy, healthy new year to all. May 2005 be a time for coming together in peace. While the weather outside may be wintry and blustery, three of these poems will warm the cockles of your heart (I don't know what cockles are, but I'm certain these poems will warm them) and the last one will tickle your post-Christmas funny bone. I dedicate this first column of the year to those who, as Peggy Symons says, "walk in quiet courage," everyday of the year. That means us!"

Spring 2005
"One of the most exciting aspects of the column for this issue is the fact that I personally witnessed both poets auditioning these poems at Sufi Books in Manhattan for the first-ever Sacred Slam poetry event for mental health. That and the fact that there seems to be a "party" theme going on here. "

Summer 2005
"We have been captivated before by the poetry of Eileen McManus, a true poet and friend of mine, and here she is again, gracing the summer issue with her amazing words. Note how she deftly uses biblical and mythological references to demonstrate her personal experience, and ties it up with bundles of hope."

Winter 2006
"Kenyatta Yamel is an African American man who was raised in Buffalo, New York and is currently residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served in the US army from 1970-72. After serving in the military, he lived in New York where he attended York College. Among other things, he writes, paints, drums and protests against the war. He is employed as a peer mentor assisting persons who are living with mental illness. Kenyatta also writes the Veterans Affairs column for New York City Voices. He may be reached at Cecil Williams is a veteran of this poetry column, always amusing us with his witty poems. But this time around, he offers some practical advice on how to avoid boredom and do something useful at the same time. Regarding his poem, Cecil says, "It does help to make priorities and the list is far from complete." Pat Nicholson was born in Brooklyn, learned how to read and write on Long Island and is now a resident of Bayport. His poems are not only seasonal but they show us how much can be said using economy of language."

Spring 2006
"Tis the season to be poetic and creative and healthy and happy and at peace with one's self! May 2006 be the best year yet! Our featured poet is Christina Bruni, whose humorous takes on life have graced the pages of New York City Voices through her Bruni in the City columns. Christina works full-time as a public service librarian and part-time as a freelance writer. She's writing a memoir about her experiences in recovery. She likes to write poetry because it distills events into lyrics and images that are colorful and evocative. As a librarian, she is a fan of YA or teen books that are written in poetic form."

Summer 2006
"The poems in this issue seem to demonstrate the socio-political climate in our world today as a huge reflection of the turmoil we often feel within. Whether we are speaking of war-torn Europe during World War II or the current situation in the Middle East, it is clear that we need more voices speaking out in favor of peace. I am happy to report that the poets in our community are doing so!"


"Ward Stories has been an interesting learning experience -- it has dispelled my own notions of stigma. At first, I really was hesitant to be associated with NYC Voices because of its subject matter. Now, when I see the wonderful creations that I am sent (as well as the heartfelt letters of thanks afterwards) I am reminded that people should not be categorized in terms of disability or illness, but as people, and these poems show the depth of their emotions and strength of character. I am constantly astounded by the talent I see in the work of consumers." - Cindy Sostchen

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Poetry Editor (But Were Afraid to Ask)

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