Thursday, February 11, 2016

Why The Journal Of Outsider Poetry Is Important

As a close, personal friend of Dr. Henry Wolfsburg, I am both saddened and appalled at the treatment he has received by the mental health community for his work at The Journal of Outsider Poetry. Since being named the editor 18 months ago, the hounding and recriminations from the poetry therapy community have been deafening. But I am here to say I have worked with Dr. Wolfsburg and find his methods and techniques as sound as the pound, and his motives, qualifications, and skill as a therapist beyond reproach.

The history of poetry therapy is a long one, dating back to 1979, when it was first used at the Wallingford Institute of Mental Health by innovator Dr. David Sinclair. He noticed that many patients who had become unresponsive to EST would eagerly come to the table when it was time to free write their thoughts and feelings, many of which he noticed took the form of quite original and entertaining poetry.He published an anthology of his patients' work, Voices From the Snakepit in 1980, and soon therapists nationwide were using poetry therapy as a method of improving the lives of their patients.

When Dr. Wolfsburg took over the Journal of Outsider Poetry, it was a in a sorry state, not having published an issue since 1929. After an eighty-five year layoff Dr. Wolfsburg's efforts to re-establish the journal as a powerful and current voice in poetry techniques for the mentally ill has been both noble and brave. His work has been tireless in the face of endless criticism. First he was too beardy. Then they attacked him for being a fictional character. Then they acknowledged that aside from being a fictional character he was an alright guy, but his methods were unsound. Well, I am here to assert his methods are not unsound.

In fact, I don't see any method at all, and since one can't attack what does not exist, where are these attacks coming from?

Dr. Henry Wolfsburg and Mr. Hyde

I implore the literary and psychiatric community to stop hounding this man, take his poetry therapy techniques seriously, and do the right thing by acknowledging the Journal of Outsider Poetry as one of the great literary and medical publications of the era.

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