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With a gulp of compliance I cheek the sedative so that I can spend
one more second trying to decipher what they say. 
I am here, now I decide to stay. 

~ Caitlin Kozman

We are full of worlds that can't be contained by a pill. MAD Poetry is an initiative that originated in the Illawarra, evolving in 2019 into workshop pilots in Port Kembla and Wollongong supported by the Mental Health Commission of NSW. 2020 sees MAD Poetry find a home at Red Room Poetry coordinated by David Stavanger.

The key focus 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 Workshops 2020 (NSW)

These workshops respond both to the COVID-19 impact in NSW on artist well-being and heightened issues of isolation and social dislocation within mental health communities via a 4-part series of free online poetry workshops, delivered by facilitators skilled in both the writing and lived experience space. Each workshop comprises 4 x 60 min weekly Zoom sessions held across Mental Health Month October 2020. These workshops will amplify and support the voices of four key groups: Mental Health Consumers, Carers/Families, Creatives whose mental well-being has been affected by COVID, and Mental Health Practitioners/Peer Workers.

Family/Carers Digital Workshop with Lillian Rodrigues-Pang and Anne-Marie Te Whiu – SOLD OUT
Wed 21, 28 Oct and Wed 4, 11 Nov, 11am-12pm
Bookings: via Eventbrite

Creatives Well-Being Digital Workshop with Helena Fox – SOLD OUT
Thurs 8, 15, 22, 29, 7-8pm
Bookings: via Eventbrite

Mental Health Practitioners Digital  Workshop with Gareth Jenkins – SOLD OUT
Mon 12, 19, 26 Oct and Mon 2 Nov, 6-7pm
Bookings: via Eventbrite

Lived Experience Digital Workshop with Mohammad Awad – SOLD OUT
Mon 5, 12, 19, 26 October, 1-2pm
Bookings: via Eventbrite

Wollongong In-Person Workshop – SOLD OUT
MAD Poetry Wollongong 2020 is a fresh iteration building on last year's pilot that will see a new series of writing workshops delivered by and for local people with lived mental health experience during Mental Health Month in October 2020. These face to face workshops will be held at Wollongong Library led by David Stavanger with special guest facilitators Helena Fox, Tim HeffernanLillian Rodrigues-PangAnne Marie Te Whiu and Alise Blayney.

Thurs 8, 15, 22, 29 Oct, 2-4pm
Bookings: via Eventbrite



MAD Poetry Events 2020

#MentalHealthMonth | 1-31 October 2020

Every week throughout Mental Health Month, we're sharing poems about the mental health lived experienced by our 10 commissioned NSW poets. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at @redroompoetry to discover the poems and join the discussion!

MAD Poetry Showcase 2020 | Tuesday 27 October, 2-3pm AEST

Join us on the NSW Mental Health Commission grounds of Gladesville Hospital for a live-streamed poetry reading, featuring 10 commissioned poets reading their work as part of a special MAD Poetry Facebook Live event. RSVP >





The aim of this 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

MAD Poetry Digital is supported by Create NSW and our project partner NSW Mental Health Commission. MAD Poetry Wollongong is supported by Wollongong City Council's Small Cultural Grants program and our project partner NSW Mental Health Commission