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defenestration is the act of throwing a body through
a window, but how can i throw this voice outside myself

~ Scott-Patrick Mitchell from 'my body is a window' 

draw your sword of justice
and pray they come to understand
the mutual life of pluralism for inner multitudes
~ An Ross from 'Borderline'

We are full of worlds that can't be contained by a pill

MAD Poetry is an initiative that originated in the Illawarra. The key focus of the project is on creating a safe writing space for emerging voices with a lived/living experience of mental health issues to express how they see the world, where these poets can define themselves through their creativity not their diagnosis, and explore by pen and page their experience of illness, institutions, recovery, self-care, and beyond.

MAD Poetry 2022 will see face-to-face workshops delivered in the Illawarra and the NSW South Coast, a national free online workshop, and the launch of a new lived experience mental health anthology during Mental Health Month October 2022.

Lived Experience Anthology

We've partnered with our MAD Poetry Coordinator, David Stavanger and Upswell Publishing to support the release of a forthcoming lived-experience mental health poetry anthology, which is supported by Australian Council for the Arts. The anthology will be released in October 2022 showcasing established and emerging voices including poets selected as part of our 2021 call out and some of our MAD Poetry commissioned writers. Edited by​ David Stavanger, Mohammad Awad, and Radhiah Chowdury.

The 30 x emerging voices whose work has been selected as part of our 2021 #MADPoetry call out for lived experience mental health poems are:

Steph Amir, Spencer Barberis, Sophie Bellotti, Rosie Bogumil, Jean Burke, Jen Chen, Maja Chodorowski, Andrew Cox, Aloma Davis, Josie/Jocelyn Deane, Alan Fyfe, Kristen de Kline, Es Foong, Ela Fornalska, Matehaere Hope Haami, Lajos Hamers, Olivia Hamilton, Jenny Hedley, K.J, Saanjana Kapoor, Lesh Karan, Rozanna Lilley, Chris Lynch, Deborah Marcus, Michelle Rickerby, Tess Ridgway, Paris Rose, Samson J. L. Soulsby, Susie Walsh and Arlea Whelan.

Huge congrats to all of these poets and thanks to everyone who made the effort to submit poems, we want to keep hearing new voices in this space.

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Film initiative with Survivors of Suicide & Friends

We were thrilled to deliver a very special partnered poetic film initiative as part of MAD Poetry 2021. Co-presented with our good friends at Survivors of Suicide & Friends we commissioned five original video poems from poets with a lived experience of mental health issues and suicidality alongside two special readings by Evelyn Araluen, all of which were released daily across Mental Health Week 2021 (10-16 October).

The aim of the MAD Poetry project is to share lived experiences of mental health via poetry. Therefore, some of the content may potentially trigger some readers. If you require mental health support or assistance, a list of free confidential 24/7 support lines can be found here. You are not alone in your journey.

MAD Poetry artwork by Rachel Wenona Guy. Logo design by Ogma Creative.

Partners and Supporters