National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Bookshelf: August 2009

Editors note: Click the book title to order the book from and NAMI will receive a portion of the proceeds.

We Mad Climb Shaky LaddersWe Mad Climb Shaky Ladders

by Pamela Spiro Wagner, CavenKerry Press (2009)

This is an exceptional book—more than a collection of poems. Pamela Spiro Wagner is the co-author of Divided Minds: Twin Sisters and their Journey through Schizophrenia (2006), written with her psychiatrist sister which won an NAMI Outstanding Media Award for Literature.

In this latest work, each poem is presented with a commentary by Wagner’s psychiatrist, Mary B. O’Malley, M.D., Ph.D. For example, the poem Repeat Offender is preceded by the explanation "Pam’s trips to the ER brought fears of being judged, tortured and overwhelmed by noise and harsh treatment." The collection is divided into five sections, covering Wagner’s childhood, earliest indications of her illness, recovery, coping and new beginnings. Family relationships are constant themes.