Tag Archives: loss

That Misfit from Mars

Like many of you, I woke up to the news of David Bowie’s death on Monday morning.

Also like many of you, I never met David Bowie. I never even saw him live. But when I heard the news, I felt a strong sense of loss and disbelief.

I read a story this week where the writer stated she wasn’t even aware that Bowie could die.

It is an absurd thing to say. And yet, as soon as I read it, I realized I felt that way too.

It wasn’t because he was a revered rock star. It wasn’t even because his music was so good that I could never live without it. Well maybe, it was a little bit of that.

Bowie was a man from another planet, made of moon rocks and magic.

His songs were strange and beautiful and struck every chord in your misfit soul. Or at least, in my misfit soul.

I first encountered David Bowie in the movie, Labyrinth. Sitting in my elementary art class, I watched Bowie dance across the screen as Jareth in his wickedly teased wig, artfully arched eyeshadow, and his hard-to-miss codpiece.

We watched Labyrinth for years in art class. It was a movie filled with music, magic, and mischief. A perfect pick to entertain a room full of kids.

There is at least a five-year span of students that attended my elementary school that know every word to “Magic Dance.” We have our art teacher, Mr. Castenson to thank for that. Him and the mesmerizing man himself, David Bowie.

Bowie was a musician, an artist, a storyteller, and a visionary. He was everything we wanted to be, whether we knew it or not. He was the words we couldn’t sing. He was the guitar licks we couldn’t master. He was the costumes we couldn’t wear. He was all the rules we were afraid to break.

Bowie took conventions and norms and crushed them under his stacked heel.

Without him, our world feels much duller, much quieter, and much less filled with magic.

This week’s video is “Magic Dance” by David Bowie. May he rest in peace.

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Help #EndTheStigma and Join Me for a Reading Event at SubText Books This Saturday!

The event honors Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, a day of remembrance for those who have lost someone to suicide. It is at 2:00 pm at SubText Books in St. Paul.

We’ve also added a writer! Poet Sierra DeMulder is a two-time National Poetry Slam champion and also the author of The Bones Below and New Shoes on a Dead Horse. DeMulder will join poets Matt Rasmussen and Michael Kiesow Moore along with writer Scott Long.

Canvas Health is co-hosting the event along with SubText Books. I volunteered to coordinate the event because of my own experience with suicide loss. I lost my brother Karl to suicide just over ten years ago.

The topic also has personal significance for the writers. Rasmussen won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets for his book, Black Aperture. The collection of poetry is about losing his brother to suicide.

“It is a subject matter and cause which I consider incredibly important,” Rasmussen said.

Moore’s book of poetry What To Pray For focuses on bullying and teen suicide.

Long is a MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Minnesota. He will read a short story about losing a friend at a young age.

The topic also has particular significance for Minnesota residents. State data shows Minnesota’s suicide rate increased 29 percent from 2003 to 2011, more than twice the national average increase. For Millennial and Generation X Minnesotans, suicide is the second leading cause of death.

Senator Harry Reid proposed the resolution to recognize survivors of suicide loss to the US Senate in 1999. Reid had survived his father’s 1972 suicide. When it passed, Congress designated the Saturday before Thanksgiving National Survivors of Suicide Day. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention later dubbed it “International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day” because suicide knows no geographic boundaries.

This week’s video is a live version of “Poison Oak” by Bright Eyes. It is a beautiful song that reminds me of Karl.

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Coming Together and Saying Those Unsayable Things

I lost my brother Karl to suicide a little over ten years ago. It is still hard for me to speak about, but I am slowly, getting better at saying those unsayable things.

This summer I started working with Canvas Health, a non-profit organization that helps children, adolescents, adults, and families who struggle with mental health, chemical health, and domestic and sexual abuse. Working with Canvas makes me feel like I am, in a small way, helping people like my brother.

This fall, I decided to coordinate an event for Canvas Health on International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. The recognition day takes place this year on November 21st.

According to survivorday.org, Survivors of Suicide Loss Day was created through the efforts of Senator Harry Reid, who lost his father to suicide in 1972. In 1999, Reid introduced a resolution to the US Senate requesting a day of recognition for suicide loss survivors. After it passed, “the US Congress designated the Saturday before Thanksgiving ‘National Survivors of Suicide Day,’ a day where friends and family of those who have died by suicide can join together for healing and support.”

Our event will feature local writers reading about suicide, loss, and survival. We are trying to bring together people who have survived suicide loss, in an effort to build community and foster support.

SubText Books has generously agreed to host the event on 2:00 pm on Saturday November 21st in St. Paul, MN. SubText will feature the books of the writers who read at event. Canvas Health will also have information about its programs and services available.

I have contacted several writers and received a “Yes!” which I am extremely excited about. The talented Matt Rasmussen has agreed to read from his deeply moving book of poetry, Black Aperture. He was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2013 and won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2012.

This is where you come in.

I need more writers. The writers don’t need to have a book out to be included in the event. If your work has only been published online, that’s fine as well. I am looking for writers that are comfortable reading in front a group. Also I want writers whose work focuses on suicide and would contribute to the atmosphere of healing and support.

If you know any talented writers or are a talented writer located in Minnesota, please contact me. This event means a lot to me, and I think it will mean a lot to this community. You can email me at pameladewey4010@gmail.com or tweet at me @agnesofiowa. I appreciate any help you can direct my way.

This week’s video is “Come Together” by The Beatles.


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