The Reminiscences of Morty Sklar

The Transcript

Then I realized — you get off of drugs and that’s it, you know. I mean, I didn’t think of it that way at first, I thought, well now, now that I’m clean. Oh, this is part of what they said in Phoenix House, I think Dr. Efrén Ramírez said it. Part of the demoralization process, you think, they’re telling you you have help. You don’t really have help, but they’re telling you you have help and when you fail you think, ‘I can’t do it,’ not ‘I didn’t get the right help.’
— Morty Sklar

Biography: Morty Sklar is a poet, Queens native and former Phoenix House resident. Inspired by the natural-voice aesthetics of the Iowa City Actualists (of which he was a seminal writer and editor).

Keywords: Phoenix House; therapeutic community; shock therapy; Creedmoor State Hospital; Alexander Trocchi; Gregory Corso; poetry; the Beat Generation; Rockefeller Drug Laws; Lexington, Kentucky; Victor Biando; Efrén Ramirez; Morris Bernstein Institute; Hart Island; Synanon; Rikers Island; Ernie Wilkins; Isabella Gardner; substance abuse; Iowa City; University of Iowa; US Army