Monday, January 23, 2017

Dear Stranger by Anastasia Palmer

Let the sun be my smile
The rain be my tears
The storm be my anger
The wind be my voice
So let me be
Anastasia Palmer- Dear Stranger

In 2004 I was invited to give a talk at the Healing Arts Trust Lectures Series at Waterford Regional  Hospital. As I was not sure on what to do, I opted for a screening of the Fit to Fly  documentary created by David Begley, which documents the way I used art in the early years of ME.

There were quite a few people there and after the screening we had a question and answer session. Anastasia Palmer, then about 16 years old and ill with ME, was there with her mother Margaret. We chatted for quite a while after the event. I have stayed in touch with Anastasia ever since and have followed her amazing creative and healing journey.

At some point we considered publishing a book together. One side was mine. Turn it over and it shows Anastasia's.
I am so glad this did not happen as we would not have seen the incredibly beautiful letter press printed book Dear Stranger.

I am SO proud to have one of the first copies in my life. I remember when it arrived, I could feel the energy, the tears, the joy, the wonder and years that gone into this book.

The other beauty is that these books were to be given free to libraries, so everyone could have access to this amazing book, filled with so much wisdom and beautiful woodcut prints. Wisdom far beyond her years, as the words in Dear Stranger were written when Anastasia was in her teens. She wrote letters to a Stranger - to all of us. The words are striking. The emotions raw. It oozes with wisdom...
Dear Stranger Letterpress book by Anastasia Palmer
Dear Stranger Letterpress book by Anastasia Palmer
Dear Stranger Letterpress book by Anastasia Palmer
Dear Stranger Letterpress book by Anastasia Palmer
Dear Stranger is now also available as paperback from Amazon
About the book: words by Anastasia from her website:
"Dear Stranger is a collection of letters that I wrote from age 15-18 while ill with a chronic illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E). I have hand printed 230 copies of Dear Stranger through the craft of letterpress printing, hand-setting every letter, rolling each page through the printing press and carving every picture in wood. As these books are limited they are being passed around from person to person as a gift and some can be found in libraries..

A few quotes from the book:

ME: I read through the list of symptoms of M.E., it made me cry so much, I feel like someone forced themselves inside my body and poisoned my blood with all of these pains. I was shaking reading it, my God do each of them hurt when added together, sometimes it’s all at once and other times it’s a large combinations. Even to just take one of the symptoms like memory or concentration – it is difficult, I forget a moment that has just passed, I cannot listen to someone long enough to understand what they are really talking about and it’s not likely I will remember later. The amount of strain I put on my ears to actually listen to someone, and it does hurt, physically first and then emotionally because I want to listen and understand.

Pain: I am in so much pain, you think that by now I would be so used to it that it would not bother me so much, but it does. And when I see myself in the mirror I am so saddened there is these young almost baby like face, but so tired and pale and stressed, filled with paying and an age that doesn't belong to youth. My God truly, what do I have left?

Dreams: I am starting to see that illness comes to us because of our story so it might also want to leave us because of our story. I will find out how to use my mind and then I will find out how to live my dreams.

Gift: I feel that illness has been a big gift in my life. … The more I understand the more I see the beauty of the path but I am on.
I ache about so many things and cry for hours about how hard it all is, but what is the wealth of my experience? A lot! My tears come from a special place and are connected to something far greater than I have ever cried about before… By being ill I have been able to stand outside of the world, meet my own world and now I am gaining strength so that I can go into the world again.

I would highly recommend reading this book. Teenagers and Adults alike... Dear Stranger is also available as paperback from Amazon



Therese Doherty said...

This is inspiring. I wish I'd been that wise when I was that age.

Corina Duyn said...

... I was ill with ME forabout 15 years ehen I read the wise words of a 15 year old ...