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Colin Hambrook adds a vote of thanks to the intoxicating and cerebral survivor poet Dave Russell / 25 October 2013

woodcut of a man strapped to a table whilst being given electro convulsive therapy by a doctor in a white coat

I thought this woodcut taken from this 1960s photograph of a man being given ECT was somehow fitting to go with Dave's poem Clinical Psychiatry. Image [c] Colin Hambrook

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This week Trish Wheatley and I have been busy making plans for new projects on DAO, getting ready to for DAOs tenth anniversary in April 2014. As one of the projects we hope to develop is a poetry prize, I thought I'd add a quick post on the first Outside In poetry event hosted by Pallant House Gallery on the 12th October.

Simon Jenner penned a review of the event last week, but for those who were in attendance [and those who weren't] who wondered at the words of the wild and invigorating performance of the legendary Dave Russell, I thought I'd post one of his genius poems from his collection Prickling Counterpoints.

Dave gives so much as a performer with a rare quality of complete and utter uniqueness, mixed with a humour that is beyond all ken. I know because I've been set free by clinical psychiatry without a facile solution in sight.

Clinical Psychiatry

I never go to gypsies to find out about my fortune,
I've cast off superstitions of the past;
I am a product of an era of built-in obsolescence
Where relationships are just not made to last.

My world is morning-grey; I have learned to live with it,
That's a promise that to myself I vowed;
Because I've been set free by Clinical Psychiatry
And no facile solutions are allowed.

The highways of your mind are quite forbidden to pedestrians,
That's tough on me – I'm trying to be naïve;
When it comes to making statements from the bedrock of my feelings
It's the tongue inside my cheek I must believe –

You see, I read you up in books before I ever saw your face
And now it's just your ambiguity I see,
And as I wander through those labyrinthine depths of inner meanings,
I think the only one I'm talking to is me!

I hoped my being lonesome might place me on a pedestal
But now I see I'm in a lonely crowd
Of people all set free by Clinical Psychiatry
And no facile solutions are allowed.

We're half-past liberation; nothing's right and nothing's wrong –
There's just a big complex of different points of view,
And my vast array of paperbacks has so broadened my outlook
That I make all the allowances for you.

Yet you still seem to be present as a sensory phenomenon
and this poor superego can't be proud
Because I've been set free by Clinical Psychiatry
And no facile solutions are allowed.

I happened upon a recording posted by Jim Clark of Dave back in 1997. I'll be ever indebted to Dave for his song Microscope with its ever useful instruction on how to attain the binoculars of wisdom. To be astounded and amazed click on this youtube link... and remember to make sure you have your microscope with you at all times 

Keywords: alternative technology,disability art,humour,mental health,psychiatry


Wendy Young

1 November 2013

Superb poem Dave.