inkblots revealing my story to the therapist
by Lori A. Minor
(2019 Lulu Press) 6” x 9” Perfect-bound paperback. 60 Pages.
Black ink on cream paper. ISBN 978-0-359-34896-1. www.lulu.com.
Reviewed by Robin Anna Smith.
Reading inkblots revealing my story to the therapist by Lori A. Minor is almost like being a silent witness in the room, as the author unpacks years of experience to her therapist. She opens with two haiku, which alone, could be the beginning and the end of her book. The white paper in between them lets us imagine, from the very start, where she might be taking us. For those who follow Lori’s work, we know to expect ups, downs, twists, and turns ahead. For those who don’t: Keep your hands inside the ride at all times!
signs of depression
the first leaf falls
to my feet
the last leaf
still holding on
The first haibun in the collection “Safe Space” sets the tone for our understanding of what triggered a lifetime of trauma and mental illness challenges. Page by page, she adds information and layers to her story, so that it reads similarly to a memoir in verse. There is just enough white space to allow the reader’s mind to wander between pages, and wonder about details purposely omitted.
He grounded me for everything. Whispering at the table. Crying. Wetting the bed. It wasn't your typical grounding where you can't play with friends or you get the PlayStation cables taken away. I had to live in my room and the only reason I was allowed out was to shower, but he insisted on monitoring me. Said it was to make sure I wasn't "playing around". Dinner was served in my room. Sometimes only cheese and crackers, and if I was lucky, a few slices of pepperoni. My room became my safe space. It was the only home I knew and even now, sixteen years later, I still find it hard to leave.
even the moon
Throughout the book, Lori continues to connect with nature in her expertly-crafted haiku, returning repeatedly, as if to physically ground herself. Perhaps, it is a way to find a deeper connection with the world—to find the world within herself. This proves to be an important relationship, as we see in her haibun “shock waves” how shaken she is when unable to seek solace in her kindred stars.
It’s three in the morning and the sky is completely clear, but there are no stars in sight. The light pollution just drowns them out. It’s almost like they’re dead… and I’m mourning the loss of each one.
the worm curls
As the book nears its conclusion, Lori’s voice grows stronger and her outlook more hopeful. Her tanka “releasing” celebrates small victories, which are amplified in contrast with the heavy weight of persistent depression, and all that comes with it. She ends the book with her senryu “erasing the stigma” which is apt, given the platforms she has created with Scryptic and #FemkuMag, and now her forthcoming Bleached Butterfly to support the voices of others.
from my palm
one year free
from self harm
erasing the stigma
I clean the dirt
from under my nails
inkblots revealing my story to the therapist is an important and uncompromising collection that readers will connect with, as we all know someone affected by trauma and/or mental illness. Lori has created a remarkable body of work, illustrating the lifelong effects of abuse and, at the same time, given us a glimpse of the hope and spirit that drives her and her stunning creative work.