A Limavady poet with a burgeoning reputation has a busy couple of weeks ahead of him, with the launch of a poetry album and a second book and film script in the pipeline.
Paul Butterfield Jr, who describes himself as the ‘bipolar poet’, draws on his own battle with manic depression in his latest work, a spoken word album set for a July 16 launch in Cafe Piazza in Limavady.
The local man is following up his literary debut, a book of poetry entitled ‘Little Boy’, with the album entitled ‘Progression, volume 1’.
A black-belt martial arts enthusiast, Paul is unafraid of exploring the darker side of the human psyche in his work. He draws deeply on his own battle with mental illness, a defining characteristic of his poetry. His first book was the culmination of a lengthy battle to overcome his illness, a battle he still faces in his day to day life.
“I think there is kind of a stigma to do with mental illness - people sometimes have this attitude about people with mental health issues and say things like ‘they are just mad’”, he said.
“Hopefully with the book getting published and everything else it shows people that you can still achieve something and that will hopefully inspire others who are struggling with the same types of problems I have been dealing with.”
There is a kind of a stigma to do with mental health... hopefully with the book getting published and everything else it shows people that you can still achieve something.Paul Butterfield Jr
He told the Sentinel that during his worst manic episode, he came under the delusion that he was Jesus Christ. At one point his condition became so severe he had to be admitted to a mental health institution near Londonderry.
His first book, Little Boy, came after a five-year fight to get back to health. A second book is to follow, to be published by Chipmunka Publishing at the end of the summer, after it was taken out of a writing competition and set aside for publication.
The new book, entitled ‘Addicted Jesus’, will explore the theme of addiction. “The four things are sex, anger, illness and addiction. The first one looked at sex, anger and illness so the second will deal with addiction,” he said.
The spoken word album, ‘Progression’ will be launched in Limavady in the coming weeks.
“The launch of the album is only a few weeks ago now, on July 16 in Cafe Piazza in the town,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. We are going to put it on the surround sound and just sit down and let everyone get a listen to it.
“It was put together by myself, Jack McClay, Graham Keys and David Anderson, who did the music. The artwork for the album cover was provided to me as a gift by Brian McDowell.
“It’s being published by Chipmunka Publishing, who are the same people who printed my first book. We recorded it in the North West Regional College in Limavady.”
He has become more prolific with his public performances after a recent anxiety-related health scare.
Mr Butterfield Jr said: “I had a bit of a scare. I thought there was something wrong with my heart. I went to the doctor about and then to the Causeway Hospital.
“I had decided that I really needed to get it sorted out. The doctor was able to tell me that it was a tear in my chest but that it might be related to the anxiety. He said ‘you know the things you need to do’.
“I think that gave me the incentive I needed to get out there with the public performances. It showed me that life is short. I’ve had the motivation I need to get out and do that.”
He also described a recent experience which neatly sums up what the ‘bipolar poet’ appears to be all about.
“Just the other day a girl sent me an email and she must’ve thanked me at least four times. She also suffers from mental illness and she was telling me that it made her feel better. It was a really cool thing to receive and I really hope God will help her.”