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 2021 saw the following activities delivered across Mental Health Month:
- 5 new lived experience commissions from Illawarra-South Coast poets
- Inaugural series of 4 free national online MAD Poetry workshops which sold out
- The first in-patient Zoom workshop held at the Wollongong Acute Adult Mental Health Ward
- A national callout to emerging lived-experience voices to submit their work as part of a new anthology Admissions led by David Stavanger, resulting in 140 submissions and the engagement of 2 lived experience editors Mohammad Awad and Radhiah Chowdhury to select 30 x poems
- New poetic film initiative in partnership with Survivors of Suicide and Friends releasing daily videos from 10-16 October 2021
The work produced and published this year for MAD Poetry is such a fantastic and well-rounded representation of the community that the project uplifts. There really isn't anything else like it in the poetry space in Australia.
~ Ruby Hillsmith, MAD Poetry 2021 commissioned poet
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
Australia Council for the Arts
Mental Health Commission of NSW