by Sean Flinn
Connections Clubhouse brings together people with mental illness, creating a community within the community. The recent publication of Looking Beyond, for example, collects poetry, short stories, essays and art (drawings primarily---check out Jon Wellands stuff) by Connections members, and creates not only a document reflecting the daily life and vibe of the place, it also offers some damn fine writing to enjoy.
Though there was an editorial committee in place that selected the contributions, everyone was given a chance to contribute---no one was turned away, explains Teresa Brown, editor of Looking Beyond.
Still, that didnt mean they published whatever was sent to them. According to Brown, the committee looked for honesty and a unique voice in submissions.
Adam Jack Pelleys short story Sidewalk Sam (The Bum) demonstrates the calibre of writing reached in these pages. Though it shouldve been called Happy Thursday---a line silently repeated by the narrator as he asks for spare change on Spring Garden---the story starts the collection off on a confident, strong note, giving insight into the interior experience of a life spent on the street. (The 1999 indie film Heater, starring Gary Farmer, does the same.) Pelley is in talks with a publisher, Brown says. Brown herself contributes two imaginative modern fables and a poem to Looking Beyond. Writing for me is just about the release--- letting it all hang out. As an editor, she says, I simply did a lot in terms of encouraging people to be involved.
Clearly, the weekly creative writing class held at Connections Clubhouse is paying off.
The book is $15. Call 473-8692 or drop by 1221 Barrington for a copy.