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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 from 'Descent'

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 saw MAD Poetry find a home at Red Room Poetry coordinated by David Stavanger including physical and online workshops, commissions of established and emerging lived experience poets, and an online showcase.

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 2021 will see face-to-face workshops on the NSW South Coast, five new commissions, as well as a callout to emerging lived experience voices to submit their work as part of a new initiative across Mental Health Month October 2021.


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.

  • Australian Council of the Arts

  • Wollongong City Council

  • Mental Health Commission of NSW