The person ends when they are smitten with what is wrongly thought of as an illness. Just as someone might be described as love sick without actually being ill, another person might be described as word sick.
The state of poetry is born out of the development of the condition known as Poetas Morbos, or the Poet’s Malady. This self-induced chronic condition, rooted in the central nervous system of some human beings, can manifest itself at any time during an individual’s life. It can develop in early childhood through and might continue into old age. Symptoms of euphoria or even profound melancholy can sometimes result. For example, the boy poet, Thomas Chatterton committed suicide, dying in poverty and in despair in 1770 at the age of seventeen. For some, this state can continue over lengthy periods, sometimes decades.
There is no permanent cure for this poet’s malady although temporary cessation is possible if the secondary condition, Scriptoris Obstructionum, Writer’s Block, occurs. This may develop as a result of irregular synaptic transmissions caused by the overworking of a tired brain and an emptied mind. Not normally associated with any physical pain, some sufferers have described sensations of internal burning and silent screaming when words will not even form, while teardrops of frustration fall across an empty page.
Neither Poetas Morbos nor Scriptoris Obstructionum have been observed in other primates, though some research suggests that it may exist in whales.
There is something that drives us in this business of writing; poetry in particular. It has much to do with the processes of aging, medication and the how the mind responds to these.
Ian Ledward is a professional artist and published writer living in Fife. He is a member of Fife Writes and the Open University Poetry Society.