Publication Year

Is This Scary?


A challenging exploration of mental illness and disability from Governor General’s Award winner Jacob Scheier.

Is This Scary? digs deep into internal landscapes of suffering, including depression and anxiety, chronic physical ailment, and rare neurological malady. With its many eccentric songs and odes to medications and medical procedures, this book is full of both levity and unapologetic lament. Pushing back against societal stigma, Is This Scary? unflinchingly addresses experiences of psychiatric institutionalization and suicidality, without either romanticizing or pathologizing them. Scheier rejects much of the mainstream cultural views of mental illness, subverting the biochemical model by emphasizing the radical subjectivity of mental suffering. While the poems render the difficulty of communicating pain to others, they defiantly celebrate its expression and evocation through visceral lyricism.

Scheier also challenges our culture’s desire to be inspired by stories of “triumphing” over illness and disability. Nothing is overcome here, the journey from illness to wellness is one of narrative and aesthetic disruption. The perpetually incomplete search for self and home is ultimately at the heart of this book: along with being a person with disabilities, the poet-speaker identifies as a Diaspora-Jew, engaging exile as a chronic state of being that isn’t intended to be resolved, but rather explored, expressed, and honored.


Jacob Scheier

Jacob Scheier is a Toronto-based poet, essayist, and journalist. He is the author of two previous poetry collections, including the Governor General’s Award–winning more to More to Keep Us Warm (ECW, 2007). His poems, articles, and essays have appeared in journals, magazines, and anthologies across North America.

Chapter Title Contents Contributors Pages Year Price


Dear Sam, This Isn’t a Suicide Note – Palinopsia Song or Ode to Some Fucking Bird – Ode to Prednisone – Crohn’s Song – Symptoms Include a Compulsive Desire to … 22 $2.20


Circular Labyrinth – The Chestnut Tree Café – Self-Parenting – Noonday Yahweh – Song for a Colonoscopy – The Spaz – To a Child Whose Mother Has Not Yet … 18 $1.80


Jumbo Elegy – God as We Understood Him – On Missing a Train Stop – Songs from an Emergency Room – Nearly 50% of Toronto Islands underwater after recent deluge of rain: … 15 $1.50


And Then Job Answered God from inside the Whirlwind They Were Both Caught inside Of – Job’s Girlfriend – Lamotrigine Song – Re: hey, and i might have cancer – Harold … 16 $1.60