Gabrielle wrote 'Triptych: Post Traumatic Relationship Syndrome' - co-commissioned by MAD Poetry and Survivors of Suicide & Friends for Mental Health Week.

Finding my tribe, my creative community is essential to my mental health and well-being. I am a large, loud, brown, out and proud lesbian, mumma, poet, percussionist and community builder who is overcoming trauma stories and writing new adventures into my life. When I first discovered an active spoken word community in Sydney it was beyond exciting to find other poets like myself. I wrote Spoken Medicine which talks about all poets being healers "Every poet to approach this mic centre stage, is a word doctor, a shaman, a sage, administering spoken medicine". Poetry community is where I go to stay strong. This is where “A bond of truth is our only objective” and we can be ourselves in a safe space. I've talked about this in "Kia Kaha Stay Strong" (included below).

A therapist once told me that the things that help us to survive are not always the things that help us heal. In my case, poetry did both and continues to help me heal and survive my own trauma history as well as keep me connected to other creative artists and activists. Kia Kaha is a Maori term meaning "Stay Strong". We all need places to go which build our strength and allow us to rest with like-minded people.

Kia Kaha Stay Strong

I go to poetry

Open-minded, open mic poetry
To keep myself connected
With honest words that often
Find themselves neglected
Rejected as too personal
To truly be respected
But we don’t give a damn!
We poetry slam
Our subjective perspectives
A bond of truth is our only objective
It keeps us strong!
On this microphone
We want to be safe
To bring everything we own
Kia kaha – we are staying strong

I go to therapy

I drag myself to therapy, regularly
To keep myself accountable
Life can be complex and beautiful
But can be full of strangers
Hard to tell who's dangerous
Have to rearrange this
Thinking I can change these people
Ticking every single box
On my red flag checklist
I work with a therapist
Helps me to measure just
How far I've come
On this journey!
It keeps me strong
Kia kaha – I am staying strong

Full poem is published in Etymology of Courage, 2021