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Editor's Commentary on 'Toast'

 , November 28, 2014

A Toast to “Toast”

Amir Tarsha tells me that with his poem “Toast” he seeks to “engender empathy about mental illness and perhaps encourage readers to educate themselves about psychiatric conditions.” The fictional narrator of “Toast” is a first-hand witness to the consequences of untreated depression—suicide. 

Tarsha, a third-year at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine with aspirations for a career in psychiatry, hopes his poem “can get readers thinking about the ways that mental illness not only affects the person with the condition, but also creates a ripple effect, seriously impacting family members and those around them.” 

Tarsha’s poem succeeds with a complex narrator’s voice, a brother who is angry and confused and intermittently detached from the experience. As his narrator hovers in reverie, he paints portraits of lovely insight, both heart-wrenching and amusing, from his state of shock. The reader cannot help but become an entangled witness, yet another ripple in the rough tide.

Rachel Hammer