Mad Poets Workshop Winners: The Wollongong Writers Festival


By Kyra Thomsen 

I spin myself into a frenzy
legs lurching in and out like a spider building a web
unravelling my inner-silk
exposing my underbelly.

The tea is too hot to drink but thank you and
I don’t take sugar

You used to help me sweep the old cobwebs
the ones still held together with pride
after all this time.

Incisors and molars gnash in a bony crush.
You wake me at midnight
to tell me I’ve been tossing


By Andrea Persico

I’m not happy with my body.
With the muscle tone I lost in childbirth.
The scars that I got in childbirth
The fear that I felt in childbirth

I’m not happy with my clenching jaw
With stress spasm shoulders
With my broiling acid gut
That all this comes from my head.

I’m not happy with the pain I’ve caused
Speaking up, lashing out, unremembered outbursts.
Casting off smothering attention
To cry terrified, alone and shaking.

I’m not happy with the perfect life I have created, seeking happiness.
Working so damn hard for happiness.
Labouring, screaming, fighting for happiness
Never reaching a calm at the centre of the storm.

Grief for hire

By Alise Blayney

I AM grief for hire, a Poetess – not PTSDs marauded Duchess, nor the Black Dog’s mistress. I used to be the clinical Countess of Distress!

I HAVE a broken aorta, which under hypnosis ticks with postmodern tacky-cardia.

I HEAR absinthe’s green fairy whirlpool crash like car smash glass into community houso’s observation hole.

I SEE invisible cloaked entities dressed as spiritual emergencies, infecting those whose senses are not anaesthetised. They incubi and succubi my white hospital gown like a djinn and tonic lullaby.

I WOULD drop vowels for Rhett Butler, do post traumatic time behind the fishbowl for Scarlett O’Hara.

I WANT soft asylum, 33 inch vinyl and spinning Roy Orbison.

I AM Rimbaud’s THIEF of FIRE, a Poetess. Not PTSDs marauded Duchess, nor the Black Dog’s mistress. I used to be the clinical Countess of Distress.

I PRETEND that 9 years ago, I wasn’t a sensory deprived TANKED mess.

I FEEL ambidextrous with the crookedness, and RAGE over the cuckoo clock’s rooftops.

I TELL Blake his RINTRAH has gone too far – knockout pills and acute amnesia wrack with wrath, a reprobate wrecking ball.

I TOUCH marriage of perception through chemical incarceration and sink into delirium – the quack tells me I look like the spokesperson for vandalism!

I WORRY that the rough of the dialogue does your head in and that the curse of the coarse is coercion of sin.

I CRY because Mr Disney never told me the looking glass felt so like sheer fucking fear.

I SMILE when you spit delirious “the road of HER excess leads you to the palace of resilience.”

I AM the serrated jaw of Dante’s grand larceny circle. I lurk between the 5th of anger, the 7th of murder.

I UNDERSTAND when God gives you a gift, the angel of shibboleth gives you a whip.

I SAY drink the sweet elixir and watch your syntax sizzle off my rapid cycling tongue, to a beat that just belts on and on and on.

I DREAM of astral travel and meeting you in the ether, lucid and tender, where

I TRY to exalt this zyprexa stupor into the stars / release my pressure points into the ooh la la stars.

I HOPE to enter your white wonderland chamber, but your syntactical activist tongue SHIPWRECKS my lips, until I’m trembling and sick.

I LOVE that you said poetry is both confession and exorcism – so we should Houdini out of the syntax straight jacket by sticking it to big pharma!

I am GRIEF FOR HIRE. Tell seclusion and restraint I want ceasefire.


Want more Mad Poets? Go to the Wollongong Writers Festival website for details on the Ben Frater Retrospective & Mad Poets Readings & Tea Party, to take place on Sunday 27 November.


Kyra Thomsen is a writer and editor from Wollongong who currently works full-time as a content manager and is deputy editor of Writer’s Edit. Her work has been previously published in print and online for several publications including Tide, Kindling, Mascara Literary Review and Seizure, and her short story ‘Buzzing’ was recently published in Spineless Wonders’ Slinkies e-series.


img_2001Andrea Persico is returning to Australia and creative writing after a long hiatus in Italy. She hopes to have a longer bio before too long.






Alise Blayney alise-blayneygraduated as a Creative Writing student at the University of Wollongong in 2007. She is intrigued by the relationship between mental and emotional distress, and creativity.

Her chosen medium to explore this is through poetry, by exploring break-down and moving towards break-through. She is interested in the different explanatory frameworks of how people make sense of what has happened to them, and how the power of language can shape, transform and rebuild identity. She is deeply moved by seeing people become the director of their own recovery journey.