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The Brain Is a Boundary

A Journey in Poems to the Borderlines of Lewy Body Dementia

Alexander Dreier Introduction by Arthur Zajonc Afterword by Bradley F. Boeve

136 pp.  
5 1/4" x 8"

Lindisfarne Books


Published:  January 2016


“Dreier’s words dance along the ledge where reality and imagination converge.”
Carolyn Jourdan, author of Heart in the Right Place
and Medicine Men: Extreme Appalachian Doctoring

This unique volume explores the experience of the “boundaries” in consciousness that permeate our lives—for instance, between sleeping and waking, language and reality, life and death, lover and beloved, observer and observed. We often take such boundaries for granted. But there is one boundary that most of us are spared: the boundary between reality and delusion, sanity and madness. This little book touches upon all of these thresholds in a singular way.

The author, a poet, comedian, and student of consciousness, finds himself gradually slipping from observing and noting such boundaries to crossing over from one world to another: from the world of ordinary, if enhanced, intuitive or poetic reality and perception to that of Lewy body dementia. The Brain Is a Boundary records his journey.

These fifty-two poems—along with an introduction by Arthur Zajonc, former President of the Mind-Life Institute, an afterword by Bradley Boeve, a renowned specialist in neurology, and an essay by the author recounting his Lewy body experiences in prose—constitute a remarkable and unique testimony that gives voice to an aspect of human experience that is all too often mute and ignored.


“Alexander Dreier is a poet. To me, he is in the company of poets like e.e. cummings, who explores mystery with wit, and Gerard Manley Hopkins, who celebrates ‘all things counter, spare, original, strange.’ As a poet, he is brilliant, funny, original. His work is magical, mystical, and everywhere compassionate and witty. He takes us into darkness and gives us night vision. He is a bringer of light. His poems are the stuff of literature—the kind that changes and enlarges the vision of the reader. Unforgettable.” —Pat Schneider, author of Writing Alone and With Others and How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice

“Lewy body disease is complex, with a myriad of symptoms that can be challenging to treat and manage. These beautifully written poems are an eloquent, inspiring example of resilience and creativity in the face of this life-changing illness.” —Jennifer Rose V. Molano, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

“A lovely book of poetry produced by a remarkable individual as he attempts to navigate the frontier between health and illness. Dreier’s words dance along the ledge where reality and imagination converge.” —Carolyn Jourdan, author of Heart in the Right Place and Medicine Men: Extreme Appalachian Doctoring

“The deepest poetic engagement, according to Lorca, entails a fight with the Creator on the edge of a well. It is an apt image, I think, for the encounter out of which these poems arise—the Creator in this case taking the guise of the Lewy body disease from which the poet here progressively suffers. Initially he resists the illness; then, poem by poem, he comes to accept it as a ‘guest’ who, mixing ‘wonder and terror’ together, blesses his powers of perception and hence his poetry. His hallucinatory images of animals…what are they? Delusions on the one hand, but also a sign perhaps that the Anima so long bounded by his physical brain is releasing its energies. Here is a courageous poet wrestling to hold his identity and the integrity of his language at an edge where ‘arrival is departure.” —Paul Matthews, author of Sing me the Creation: A Creative Writing Sourcebook

“Dreier is fully alive to the wonder of our common world. His curiosity becomes amazement; his direct perception is suffused with studious learning. His poems open the reader to the unexpected, to the charm of the irrational, to truly curious states of mind. Like a hero, Dreier triumphs over the burden of suffering from a little known disease, having the smarts and inclination to exploit its geography, to corral its disturbances, to take what it gives, in the lyrical service of intelligence and love.” —Geoffrey Young, editor of The Figures, author of The Riot Act and Pockets of Wheat

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