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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. 

~ by 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 Digital Workshops (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.

MAD Poetry Lived Experience Workshop with Mohammad Awad
Mon 5, 12, 19, 26 October, 1-2pm
Bookings: via Eventbrite

MAD Poetry Family/Carers Workshop with Lillian Rodrigues-Pang and Anne-Marie Te Whiu  
Wed 14, 21, 28 Oct and Wed 4 Nov, 11am-12pm
Bookings: via Eventbrite

MAD Poetry Creatives Well-Being Workshop with Helena Fox
Thurs 8, 15, 22, 29, 7-8pm
Bookings: via Eventbrite

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


MAD Poetry Wollongong Workshop

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


Additionally, Red Room Poetry has commissioned poems by ten NSW artists with lived experience to be digitally published weekly across Mental Health Month 2020 and then live-streamed from the NSW Mental Health Commission grounds of Gladesville Hospital featuring these poets reading their work as part of a special MAD Poetry online event on Thursday 29 October.

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