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Last night The Hearth hosted their ‘Of the Night’ readings at The Jade; an evening of themed writing shared by handpicked local creatives, which I was thrilled to be a part of.

The Hearth Collective comprises Lauren Butterworth, Alicia Carter, Emma Maguire and Melanie Pryor who met as English/Creative Writing PhD candidates and launched a series of themed events based on the old tradition of les veillées – when folk gathered around the fire at the end of the day to share stories, news and company.

Lisandra Linde kicked off proceedings by sharing her firsthand experience of cadavers and a crypt beneath a church in Rome; an interesting piece. Andrew Lee followed who read three intricate poems, which explored who we become at night, providing context after each one. Marina Deller finished the first set with an engaging piece woven with the untimely deaths of both her best friend and her own mum, and meeting her now partner.

After the break saw Melanie take to the stage, one of the Collective’s own, who shared a rather haunting tale about a murder that took place in the vast Australian landscape. I followed with six poems featuring the moon in some way; from an astronomer’s wife to how the moon feels waiting for the sun to set. The evening finished with a short question and answer session, where members of the audience quizzed us on our work, process and the techniques we use to convey ourselves.

Afterwards I was asked by a fellow poet if I had been nervous because it didn’t show. Despite being the last reader and the biggest crowd I’ve read to, I didn’t feel any nerves at all. There’s a certain comfort in art shared by all those there; a beautiful connectivity between readers, listeners, the hosts and a talented musician, Dee Trewartha, who played between sets.

The Hearth Collective facilitated a very memorable evening, so I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open for any further submission calls from them, that’s for sure!

Thrilled to be involved in the upcoming ‘Of the Night’ readings hosted by The Hearth on Thursday 26 October at The Jade on Flinders Street, Adelaide. Maybe see you there…

Meet Our Readers

Just want to share an insightful post by Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis, in which she shares some thoughts and poems on mental health (one of which I penned myself)

World Mental Health Day in Poetry

 

Today is World Mental Health Day, and this is an initiative led by Mental Health Australia to challenge the perception of mental health issues and encourage us all to view them in a positive light, in a bid to reduce stigma and enable more people to seek support.

 

 

Mental Health Australia aims to:

promote mentally healthy communities, educate Australians on mental health issues, conduct research into mental health and reform Australia’s mental health system.

And their Do you see what I see? is a clever concept, using strong visuals to highlight that we all see things differently and should work together to find common ground.

Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as:

a state of well-being in which every individual realises their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.

As Beyond Blue states, mental health is about wellness rather than illness.

For me, mental health is a delicate thing to be balanced and weighted against whatever life throws at it. Sometimes it’s tough and exhausting, so I write to help mine and travel, taking time out when I need to.

So, make a mental health promise to yourself today; it’s just as important as the physical one.

 

Just like you

 

She tries to fit in

pulls at her mouth to make it a smile

blinks her eyes hard to clear out the clouds.

 

She even pretends she’s alive

puts a bird in her heart so it chirps with a beat.

 

But she can’t seem to shut up her sadness

it speaks when she thinks that she is.

 

Copyright © J V Birch 2013