WILLIAMSTOWN -- Twenty years ago the artist and author Gregory Scheckler was tired, fatigued, and hospitalized for a day in New York City. Despite trying to live in New York, he couldn’t make it work. It wasn’t until moving to the Berkshires that he was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.
"The diagnosis changed everything," said Scheckler, "I went from being a headachy, worn-out dreamer to wide-awake in a matter of days. I had no idea how tired I’d been. Sleeping more soundly would be a good cure." He’d been misdiagnosed with migraine for many years, until doctors checked his sleep patterns. Following standard treatment Scheckler now sleeps better.
As an artist and author, these changes couldn’t help but effect his creativity - a point evidenced in his newest e-book, "Noisy Street: New York City Poems and Images, 1990-2002," published by Williamstown-based Winglet Books.
In "Noisy Street," fifteen prose poems and street photos collide, telling some of his experience of New York City. "Noisy Street" is a brief but intense, gritty, dream-like sequence, part fiction and part documentary.
"It’s common for the fatigued to hallucinate," Scheckler said. "So when I look back on the New York City experience, before I was being treated for OSA, the entire time is spliced together with odd dreams." Those dream-like images weave throughout his poetry.
Scheckler admits: "Writing helped me to survive that time period before I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Writing is great for your brain, and done well can help you sort out fantasy from reality."
As for sleep apnea affecting his art, Scheckler summarized: "I wouldn’t wish sleep apnea on anyone. But I’m grateful that it’s treatable. And actually good sleep is what made editing these poems possible - you can’t be too sleepy if you’re going to accomplish the hard work of editing."