About the book
The Altar of Innocence is about a mother who is an unfulfilled artist and a daughter who struggles to untangle the web of her mother’s depression, alcoholism, and suicide attempt. As the daughter grows into a woman, she experiences her own confrontation with depression and a crumbling marriage. Deeply dissatisfied with the explanation of depression as a chemical imbalance in the brain, she peers into her own dark night of the soul and undertakes a spiritual journey. In order to finally claim her voice, she must overcome the patriarchy of the mental health system, challenge her treatment options, and navigate an increasingly difficult relationship with her husband. The poems in The Altar of Innocence come from my heart and from the sincere desire to share my journey in the hopes that others may find courage and inspiration.
“Ann Bracken creates a vibrant dialogue with her reader. Her emotional vocabulary is wholeheartedly offered to us like a gift to the world. Bracken’s strength comes from an equilibrium between idea and performance—interior and exterior lives, smartly drawn. With a strong voice, vitally engaged, she presents characters and behavior without judgment. Poetry is the vehicle that makes us laugh and cry at her 'Altar of Innocence'.”
—Grace Cavalieri, poet and producer of the radio show “The Poet and the Poem" from the Library of Congress”
“The Altar of Innocence offers readers a rare and compassionate look at depression. By telling her mother’s story and sharing her own, Ann Bracken takes us on an intimate journey through two generations of mental illness and ultimate healing. Readers will find hope in her journey.”
— Laura Shovan, Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone,
winner of the Harriss Poetry Prize