Shira Erlichman

A poem is, hopefully, always a thing of beauty. But with Odes to Lithium it feels that I haven’t really succeeded if the poem is not also functional: a salve, a tool, an ally, something that could be carried out of a hospital and into the world with a sense of companionship.

James Merrill Fellow

Author Photo_Credit Hieu Minh Nguyen.jpg



Odes to Lithium is a remarkable book: it is beautiful, deeply perceptive, haunting, and original. It is wonderful.
— Kay Redfield Jamison
Oh, Radiance. Survival and Surviving Field. How rare, an Eye like this, so able to access its marrow language—original, honest, dear, strange. These poems document and enact processes of finding a language imaginative and struggling enough to carry one’s life. Moving us through imagistic splay and shift, the line is Erlichman’s measure: ‘I know what the sea knows / with the bottom of its mind / unfathomed.’ These poems, I think, are little ‘sight’-engines—miraculous, fevered, whirring things. I’m astonished by breath and lasting at all. I ‘pull a flower / from her skull / & weave it into mine.’ I love her way, her mind.
— Aracelis Girmay

Shira Erlichman, whose first name means “song” in Hebrew, is a poet, musician and visual artist. Her debut poetry collection, Odes to Lithium, is forthcoming from Alice James Books in September 2019. Kay Redfield Jamison has praised it as “beautiful, deeply perceptive, haunting, and original.” Shira will publish her first children’s book, Be/Hold (Penny Candy Books) in Spring 2019. A three time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work can be found in  BUST Magazine, The Massachusetts Review, Union Station, The Reader, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed Reader, and on PBS NewsHour’s Poetry Series, among others.

Being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder a decade ago fundamentally changed her life, and deepened her love of being here and making art. In an interview with fields, Shira was asked about her process while working on Odes to Lithium. She works differently for different pieces, but noted, “Another process has been just to go wild and let the horses run wild, and I’ll start with a little flicker, as I’m sure you might with painting or whatever form you’re interested in, where you have something stuck in your teeth and you’re like how do I get this out? and it will be a quote or a statistic and I’ll dive, not knowing where I’m going to end up, and go from there.”

As a musician and composer, she has shared stages with TuNe-YaRdS, Coco Rosie, and Mirah. Inspired by the work of John Cage and Yoko Ono, her composing is inclined toward experimentation, minimalism, and repetition.

Shira has been awarded a residency by the Millay Colony, the James Merrill Fellowship by the Vermont Studio Center, and the Visions of Wellbeing Focus Fellowship at AIR Serenbe. Born in Israel and raised in Massachusetts, she has a deep passion for peace, justice, and mental health literacy. She currently lives in Brooklyn.



Open and right-click to download