Poetry in Motion: Sadie McCarney + Your Therapist Says It’s Magical Thinking

The bold, Lisa Frank-esque cover of Sadie McCarney’s sophomore poetry collection Your Therapist Says It’s Magical Thinking (ECW Press) encases an introspective look into living with mental illness and her queer identity, specifically asexuality. She reads two poems from the collection for today’s Poetry in Motion.


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Sadie McCarney on Your Therapist Says It’s Magical Thinking

My poetics has one foot embedded in the dirt and rust of rural Atlantic Canada, the other flailing through glitter bombs somewhere in Fairyland, and both hands busy trying to sort out the mess of puzzles-without-all-the-pieces that is mental illness and neurodivergence. My second poetry collection, Your Therapist Says It’s Magical Thinking (ECW Press, 2023) is about the coping strategies that people with lived experience of mental health issues use to survive: the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we wish were true, and the stories others might try to tell us that don’t, ultimately, serve us at all.

In “The Best Version”, I’m imagining a world where all identities are celebrated and understood – and a world without mass shooting events. Even so, people still get harmed at school anyway; unicorns, while beautiful and magical, are fundamentally unsafe, and no amount of 7-layered pie will ever stop the “knee-hurt” from happening. Similarly, in the surrounding poems, the looming spectre of debilitating illness never quite goes away.

The whole “Coping Strategies” section of the book is framed as advice given to an imaginary mental health consumer. The asexual “you” of “Do The Sex” imagines her own impossible way out of her present surroundings, dreaming up a world with women who have pie between their legs instead of genitals. (I seem to have a literary fixation to do with pie. And I absolutely should – it’s delicious!)

Your Therapist Says It’s Magical Thinking is a study in shame, the potential toxicity of certain kinds of imagination, and maladaptive daydreaming – but isn’t it fun, now that we’re here?

Sadie McCarney reads two poems from the collection

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Sadie McCarney’s books are Your Therapist Says It’s Magical Thinking (ECW Press, 2023) and Live Ones (University of Regina Press, 2019/ tall-lighthouse uk, 2020). She is also the author of the award-winning found poetry performance text/ mental health memoir Head War (Frog Hollow Press, 2021). Sadie’s work has appeared in Best Canadian Poetry, The Walrus, Grain, The Malahat Review, Foglifter, Kissing Dynamite, Room, and in many other places.

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