By David StavangerPoetryUWA Publishing

Case Notes

Your name is not yours / once it’s in their mouth   

The highly anticipated follow up to the award-winning collection The Special, this electric new body of work by David Stavanger is a mix tape of free verse, lyric poetry, found text, spoken word and flash fiction documenting the lived/living mental health experience and the well beyond.

Portrait of David Stavanger

David Stavanger

David Stavanger is a poet, performer, cultural producer, editor and lapsed psychologist. His first full-length poetry collection The Special (UQP, 2014) was awarded the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and the Wesley Michel Wright Poetry Prize. David co-directed Queensland Poetry Festival (2015-17) and is the co-editor of Australian Poetry Journal 8.2 SpokenRabbit 27 Tense and SOLID AIR: Collected Australian & New Zealand Spoken Word (UQP, 2019.) David is also sometimes known as Green Room-nominated spoken weird artist Ghostboy. These days he lives between the stage and the page.

Judges’ report

Case Notes is a visceral and profound meditation on masculinity, mental illness, fatherhood, family and suburban life. This deeply vulnerable collection expertly balances humour and wit alongside moments of grief, loneliness, anxiety and sadness. Stavanger's knowingly-disordered list poems, associative lyrics, inter-species dialogues, and prose poems slowly accumulate to weave a meticulously compiled poet-as-protagonist narrative that speaks to the personal, social and structural intimacies and embodiments of mental health experience.

Extract

Bipolar II 

The 80s and 90s, the ‘antidepressant era’.
Sure that the medication works. To keep the mania, 

make the person feel. When the patents began to run out,
reduced need for sleep. Bipolar 2.5 

Swiftly joined, by hyperactive, even dangerous.
The less he would be described. The ‘same’ disease. 

Highs and lows, a mood stabiliser. Often little hope
of return. Manic burn-up, splintering pain, parties, 

peoples, magazines, books, music, art, movies.
The fact of being linked together. Experience of loss. 

Entertainment a constant feature. One’s existence.
Words states. One listened very carefully. 

Hostile to the person. To articulate them.
Sudden and knowing. Manic sex isn’t really 

intercourse. It’s discourse. The moment of response,
the silence. Perhaps a violent thought. Thousand-fold. 

This Beast that could make moods. Lie awake at night
waiting for the call. Isolation. Tenuous emotion. The 

future so pronounced. Strange transformation from modest.
Work. The boss one of the biggest. Marketable property. 

 

And this brings us to a crucial aspect. Clan. Aiming to fly. Debt.
I never cashed the cheque. Props. Cover over. During a meeting. 

Benign/sacrificial nature. This scene returned to haunt. Children
were playing. Early life puppet. Concerned how the carvings were. 

Destructive. Tendencies. Make sure nothing like that could happen.
I can only say. Sorry. Thank you. All the elements were now in. 

Worm in every delicious apple. I stole. Manic episode may be the
attempt to repay. If there is an effort. Broodings over bad things. 

Ours or someone else’s. Responsibility. Death would immobilise.
Oscar Wilde. Fry. Whirlwind of work, never say no to a request. 

Buying without paying. Without doubt. Foreclosed. Despite class.
A culture aspired to loss. Some experienced? Compensate. 

Peopled with angels and devils. People devils. Depressive angels.
Fact. The breast is both giving and not-giving. 

A woman who resembled her mother on the tube, his family’s past.
The doctor drug has helped. In each individual case. Repair, to make 

perfect again. Worse. Growing. Rage. Reality and fantasy. Flames
from the plane crash. Something is different as well. During a low. 

Pointed out. Insanity could conclude. This moment murdered. Both.
Mood changes baffling. Gather bags but always failing. Depression 

supports this idea. “You’re Patty now.” Even speech. A mourning
dead father. Undermines the ties. Destiny statistics. Signature motifs. 

Attends. To. A.
Humane. Approach.

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist