Creative writing shines a light on mental health

The annual mindshare awards highlight poetry and creative writing by South Australians with lived experience of mental health challenges. This week InReview shares three of the shortlisted poems in the 2022 competition.

Cloud Nine

By Andrew Ballard

Started my day
on cloud nine
felt great
then I fell off
hit my head on eight
twinged my back on seven
gave the hips
a bloody good going over
on six five and four
missed three and two
landed face down butt up on cloud one
technically not quite rock bottom
perched precariously
I could only gaze upwards at cloud nine
just a small setback
give me a rope
onwards upwards and forwards
once you’ve been on cloud nine
you know it’s worth the hard work
to get there
stay positive
and hope it doesn’t rain
and all the clouds
piss on you.


When Sky Swallows The City

By Shaine Melrose

I come down in blue
droplets of rain
streaks of felted cloud
grey skies turn black
sink into green.

I come down in blue
festival face paint
river red gum grins
gloved fingers reach
towards nightfall.

I come down in blue
eyes of laughter
stage a banquet of
sunshine to light
up your solitude.

I come down in blue
denim overalls fix
the leaking faucet
hang the back door
on brass hinges.

I come down in blue
cascades of water
your lover again
on this ocean
of winter.


The Weight of the World

By Anita Zurbrugg

Once upon a time she is joyful
A glimmering shimmer in her eyes
She softly hums a tune just for me
To gently soothe my compelling cries

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She is my world

Once upon a time she is hopeful
I hold her absolute attention
A dependable source of refuge
She is my comfort and protection

She is my world

But these days she is melancholy
She emanates a sense of despair
Her eyes are now hollow and distant
The pain is too much for her to bear

She is my world

These days she is worn and downtrodden
Buried deep under brutality
At the hands of a man once cherished
I am aware of her agony

She is my world

She no longer sings me a ballad
Her loving gaze now a vacant stare
She retreats inwards for asylum
To a world she need not be aware

My world has gone

She sinks deeper into an abyss
To a place where I cannot find her
I softly hum a tune just for her
As a soft and gentle reminder

My world has gone

I hold a light for her in the dark
In a desperate plea to remind her
The world I knew has faded away
I wait for your return dear Mother.


Andrew Ballard and Shaine Melrose have both been shortlisted in the Published Established Poets category of the 2022 mindshare awards, while Anita Zurbrugg has been shortlisted in the Unpublished Emerging Poets category.

The awards – presented during Mental Health Awareness Month and supported by the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia, Writers SA and Access2Arts – also include categories for Unpublished Emerging Writers and Published Established Writers. Winners will be announced on October 14.

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