Writing a New Narrative for Madness: A Conversation with Sarah Fawn Montgomery

Sarah Fawn Montgomery talks about mental illness, its history and treatment in the United States, and her new memoir.

“We cannot describe our pain to others because pain separates our realities. For those suffering, there is no existence beyond pain — it frames the world. Those not in pain have an alternate reality, separated from the sufferer by way of the body. Sufferers cannot articulate their truths and those without pain cannot begin to comprehend. What exists for those in pain is unreal to those without it.”

ELIZABETH SCHULTE MARTIN is the author of the novel Everything You Came to See, and her short fiction has appeared in New England Review, Hot Metal Bridge, and Witness. She teaches at IUPUI in Indianapolis, where she lives with her husband and son.
SARAH FAWN MONTGOMERY is the author of Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir, and the poetry chapbooks Regenerate: Poems from Mad Women, Leaving Tracks: A Prairie Guide, and The Astronaut Checks His Watch. She has been Prairie Schooner’s Nonfiction Editor since 2011 and is Assistant Professor at Bridgewater State University.

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.