After decades of writing poems and sometimes sharing them with friends, I’ve finally gathered the ones I consider my best, and put them into a book. In September 2015, I published Happenings, Heartbeats, and Mental Breakdowns as an ebook for Amazon’s Kindle. In November 2015, I published a print edition through CreateSpace (for Amazon), and then expanded print availability in 2016. I initially had the ebook version available from several different retailers, and even offered it through Overdrive (for libraries), but in late 2017, I made it an Amazon Kindle exclusive, so Kindle Unlimited subscribers could borrow it to read for free. The print version can now be ordered from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many independent bookstores as well. The Kindle edition is only 99 cents, and the paperback is a very reasonably-priced $7.95.
I made the cover using Canva.com, which is a fantastic site with amazing tools to design all kinds of graphic projects at little or no cost. I started by uploading a scanned photo of myself, dating from either 1993 or 1994, applied filters to manipulate it, added the wording, and it was done. (It took longer than it sounds, because I tried almost every kind of filter for the photo, and almost every font in a few different colors, and changed my mind multiple times before deciding I was finished.) If you’re wondering, Is that a bruise on her arm?, the answer is YES. I had donated blood when my blood pressure was too low, and there was some needle movement, and within a few days, an impressive bruise had developed on my arm.
The book description:
Sometimes I think summer has its own
pattern after all, some weirdly repeated
series of actions, happenings, heartbeats,
and mental breakdowns.
These are the first lines of “Road Work,” the poem that opens this collection and sets the tone for the rest of the book. The poems are personal, emotional, and sometimes confessional, but Manthe always strives to engage readers’ minds as well as their hearts. Many of the poems reflect the author’s lifelong struggle with depression, and others who have experienced the isolation that often comes with mental illness might find a little comfort and a sense of familiarity in these pages.
There are lighter moments, too: follow the nervous driver of “Nighttime on 95,” enjoy a snack of “Apples and Hot Chocolate,” and watch the speaker become first enamored, then annoyed, with a guy named Phil in “A Slice of Otto B.” From adolescence, and the joys and pains of young love, to marriage, motherhood, and the deaths of her parents, Manthe’s poems explore what it feels like to be constantly buffeted by the forces and stresses of everyday life, when she’d rather be lost in a book.
In addition to approximately 50 poems, the book contains a short essay entitled “Losing Everything but Our Appetites,” which Manthe wrote following her father’s death.