Love, Togetherness, and Compassion​ - PMD Alliance

'The Mistress', Personification of Parkinson’s Disease in Poetry

The Mistress was written from deep love for a brilliant, creative, energetic, and loving husband.  Love strained at the edge because of The Mistress, Parkinson’s disease. Love jotted down in a desperate and frightened, manic language initially in the form of  journalistic prose, ultimately into poetic language, language that tracked the progression of claim by The Mistress and co-conspirers, the medications prescribed to ease discomfort only to discoverer they also enhanced The Mistress. The Mistress bonds with a long loving marriage, wreaking havoc, in the end transforming the marriage and psyche of both my late husband and myself, and in time, my spirit’s recovery.

The book, published in late 2016, nine months after my late husband’s untimely death from a hemorrhagic stroke after living an unselfish, nonstop, and rich seven years with Parkinson’s, went on to to be awarded the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award in Poetry in 2017, a year after Larry’s final gift, his collection of personal stories, A Life Well Worn was named finalist for the same award in the category of Memoir, 2016.

The Mistress, Cathy Strisik’s remarkable collection of poems, is an aching, ardent outcry responding to “The Mistress,” her husband’s Parkinson’s.  Cutting into the body of pain and grief, with exact sensual laser-light honesty, these poems marry Christos−Greek archetype, the poet’s Greek roots, with the intimate physicality of daily sacred life.  The Mistress’ images, piercing and fresh, arise from the body, guts, heart, sex−the poet’s “thicket heart” creating “its language of conifer channeled veins/oh my sea-thrashed wings oh my body/oh the lamb on a spit on a holiday with missing ancestors.” Jagged and lyric, brave, modern, mythic, Strisik’s poetry beholds;  feels a world at all times intimate−a “sublumen,” moving, phenomenological.  Voicing by, and into, “the exactness of flesh,” Strisik is that rarer poet, the grounded mystic, she who writes through and about love, loss, in the spirit-moment of flesh, “suffering beauty,” discovering “in tongues there is terrible light” in the illuminated body of ironia, paradox, eros.


−‘Annah Sobelman (1954-2017), In the Bee Latitude; The Tulip Sacrament

Want to hear Catherine’s poetry? Last month she joined us on Therapy Break™ to read selections from The Mistress. If you missed it live, click below to watch the full recording
Please click on the book name to learn more or to purchase:
A Life Well Worn: Nighthawk Books 2016
The Mistress: 3: A Taos Press 2016

Catherine Strisik, poet, teacher, editor is Taos, New Mexico’s Poet Laureate 2020-2022; recipient of 2020 Taoseña Award as Woman of Influence based on literary contribution; is author of Insectum Gravitis (finalist New Mexico Book Award in Poetry 2020); The Mistress (awarded New Mexico/AZ Book Award for Poetry 2017); Thousand-Cricket Song, and recently completed manuscript And They Saw Me Turn To Hear Them (currently semi-finalist, Philip Levine Prize in Poetry, 2021), with poetry translated into Greek, Persian, and Bulgarian.

Leave a Reply