Niagara Gazette

January 31, 2014

Lackawanna author discusses memoir Friday at disABILITY museum

by Mia Summerson ngedit@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — As a youth and young adult, Lackawanna native Anthony Antek battled with the complexities of being bipolar and it’s extreme highs and lows. After years of struggle he went on a mission to find himself and figure out what life had in store for him. The result of his journey, after eight years of on-and-off writing, has been documented in his 2013 book, “Bipolar Buffalo.”

Antek, who will be giving a presentation on his book from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Museum of disABILITY History in Buffalo, discussed his journey in a recent telephone interview.

QUESTION: Tell me about your background as an author?

ANSWER: This isn’t my first writing, in school I mostly studied the social sciences, like sociology and psychology. My bachelors and masters are in sociology, and my doctorate is in education. I’ve spent most of my career in education working as a teacher in elementary and middle schools, college and in administration. I was the first of my extended family to attended college. I earned my bachelors from the University at Buffalo and my masters from the University of Denver. I did my doctoral studies at North Michigan University, and before that Tulane University in New Orleans. I finished my doctorate at SUNY Albany.

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Q: In your own words, what is “Bipolar Buffalo” about?

A: It’s about finding my real self, finding meaning in life. It consists of 52 short stories, its non-fiction and sort of a memoir as well as a work of humor. It incorporates other people from both in and outside of the Buffalo area and 29 original works of art. It looks at the natural duality between, say, comedy and tragedy, honesty and dishonesty, that type of contrast. It complex in its simplicity and simple in its complexity.

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Q: What inspired you to write it?

A: Being bipolar I am more to the right side of the brain, I have high emotions and have more creative urges. I’ve had this locked up in me for many, many years. I think the main inspiration was to unlock the creativity. I also have a strong interest in humor, various stories talk about comedians I’ve met. I have stories about Steve Allen and Dick Shawn. Being bipolar, humor was a way to overcome periods of depression. Another reason was just to honor the beauty of the printed word. I use a lot of metaphors, analogies and paradoxes. Another was to represent the under dog. There was this feeling of Buffalo being an under dog city over the passed 60 or 70 years.

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Q: What kind of feedback has “Bipolar Buffalo” gotten so far?

A: The feedback has been excellent. I have not had a chance to promote nationally, but I’ve gotten good feedback locally and on my website. The biggest response on my Facebook page has been from Beverly Hills, Calif. The largest response from any city in the world was Dublin. The last time I checked was two months ago and I had 2,000 visits from Ireland. The response has been encouraging.

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Q: Is the book helpful to people that might also be classified as bipolar?

A: It’s not a self-help book. You have to be careful being bipolar its good to have that feeling but must control energy. There is a stigma about being bipolar that I means you’re crazy. There’s a risk of letting people know about it, I kept that inside myself. When you expose yourself there’s a risk. As society moves on more of an acceptance, but people still don’t want to take that risk. It does discuss how I overcame issues associated with bring bipolar.

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Q: Are you planning on writing more in the future?

A: I enjoy the creativity of writing a book, but I don’t enjoy promoting the book, I’m not big on being in the public eye. Promotion requires you to be a bit of a salesman and I’m not that type. The promoting. I do think it would make an excellent movie and would like to develop it into a screenplay.