May 12, 2004

Personal Story

MIT Grad Finds Poetry in Mother's Schizophrenia; Performs Solo Show in May, National Mental Health Month

A recent press release announced that a Boston-based poet and performer Michael Mack has developed a one-man play Hearing Voices (Speaking in Tongues). Mack's 90-minute monolog draws on his life as a child raised by a mother with schizophrenia.

What inspired such a play? "When I was a student at MIT, I took a poetry workshop for elective credit," Mack said. "You know, easy A." But soon he found himself writing with an urgency that surprised him. Encouraged by his mentor Maxine Kumin (Pulitzer Prize for Poetry) and by Seamus Heaney (Nobel Prize for Literature), Mack began full-time study in the MIT Writing Program.

"My mother's illness profoundly shaped me," he said. "I felt shadowed by it, afraid I'd get sick too." "Whenever I do this show, people come up afterward to tell me about their own mother's illness, or their father's, their sister's, their son's," Mack said.


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