Tag Archives: poetry

stigma conference poems

Dear Bill,

Your poems are wonderful. Prof Norman Sartorius and I lectured here in Gothenburg, Sweden for two days last week and I read your poems – four of them. I have read them at conferences and lectures, mostly for mental health staff and user organizations.

The poems capture the inner soul of mental illness as well as human longings and emotions, such as love, longing as well as rejection. I am very touched by your poems and so was my audience.

I am convinced that a larger audience would appreciate your work, at least in western Europe, where most people in the profession, and even a broader audience, know English quite well.

Good luck and, please, keep in touch.



PS: Sent 13 May 2009 – before my poems were published as ‘Loud Silence’.


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NICON conference, La Mon Hotel, Belfast

I had the privilege to open and close this Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Conference on 5th & 6th March, 2014. The conference theme was ‘Better Together’. Using poetry I stated that providers of services and receivers of services are all service users and must work together and serve together in a professional and public capacity.

I shall not give my script in full but try to give a flavour of my short five minute addresses…

Day 1

A nation of islands?

Islands do not interact.
There’s no exchange of views.
And that’s just great
For visitors are not welcome –
I’ve no interest in you.
I sing my national anthem to an audience of one,
And please myself on my desert isle –
Robinson Crusoe never had such fun!
My choice, my independence, are the order of the day.
I eat when I want.
I sleep when I want.
I don’t do any harm.
I don’t need any favours.
I don’t take any ‘stick’.
Autonomy’s all very well for a while,
But what happens
When I’m sick?

Self-help books didn’t work!

Positive thinking (gone pear-shaped).

I’m beautiful.
I’m clever.
I’m able.
I’m talented.
I’m witty.
I’m great.
Gee. I’m a pain!

I looked to psychiatry for help. Hope hoped for…

Mind’s eye.

Doctor, my mind is out of focus.
Like wearing glasses
That have a wrong prescription.
Will medication mend the blur
And give me back my vision?

A rather rude awakening. Hope dented…

Dr. Who.
I disclose to you.
You don’t disclose to me.
In this power imbalance lies an inequality.
Dr. Who, if such a relationship is to your credit
I simply don’t get it.

One day, whilst walking to work, a solitary seagull was crying out overhead. I felt uneasy, as if being laughed at. I mentioned this matter to a young psychiatrist. Hope dashed!


I told a doctor, “The seagulls are laughing at me.”
The doctor laughed, too!
(Who says laughter is the best medicine?)

Psychiatrists say that physical exercise is good for one’s mood. I say…

Keeping fit at 51?
I think I’ll take the car out for a run.

Day 2

A message to professionals – service users know who cares and who doesn’t care…

Mentally ill (but not stupid).

Squirrel Nutkin’s schizophrenic.
Some people say she’s bonkers.
But Squirrel Nutkin differentiates
‘tween hazelnuts and conkers!

But service users must remember that even staff can be depressed…


Monday morning’s come around.
Even the bloody computers are ‘down’!

Education. Education. Education.
There’s change in this nation?
What’s the latest blog?
Long John Silver has been superseded
By Sonic the hedgehog!

And even Sonic is last year’s thing. Change is supersonic! Let’s rise to the occasion. We are living in difficult times….Personally, I’m learning that hope is forged amidst trials – not before; not afterwards…


It is said
That the darkest hour
Is just before dawn.
In a similar vein
Growth and change
Can be gained
At the moments of greatest pain.

Mountain summit

It is too frightening to make a mistake.
And the mountain ahead is so high.

It is too frightening to say what I think.
And the mountain ahead is so high.

It is too frightening to let my anger out.
And the mountain ahead is so high.

It is too frightening to trust.
And the mountain ahead is so high.

It is too frightening to take a risk.
And the mountain ahead is so high.

It is too frightening to love.
And the mountain ahead is so high.

It is too frightening to live.
And the mountain ahead is so high.

Aaargh!! It’s too frightening to be frightened.

And the valley below,
Oh! the valley below
Is splendid to the eye.


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NICON event

The Northern Ireland Confederation For Health And Social Services – NICON 2014 Conference is to be held on Wednesday 5th/Thursday 6th March at La Mon Hotel, Belfast.

I’m thrilled and honoured to be invited to open and close the NICON 2014 conference with poems from my book, ‘Loud Silence’.  This invitation is an opportunity to share personal experience of mental illness, stigma and recovery and as a ‘professional’ working in psychiatric services within the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust.

The NICON event is entitled, “Better Together”.  It’s about partnership, ie. Comm – unity  Care.

I shall post my two addresses on my blog after the NICON conference.  May these be of use to you.

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Some Christmas meditations…

This first poem is a reflection on the death of my dear friend “Frankie”.


On a grey day in a suburb
the church bells peel
for a widow newly departed.
Her body was lowered
into a watery grave,
but the sun shone through the clouds
like an anthem.
Downtown, shoppers set the tone,
and “jingle bells” is what the tills are ringing.

Bling Crosby

I’m dreamin’ of a white…

Q: Daddy, where does Santa live?

A: Santa’s address is stress!

Christmas 2013

No room in the…

May you have a blessed and peaceful Christmas.


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eBook now available

Loud Silence now available as eBook!

loud silence cover

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Mind games


Should I have said this?
Should I have said that?
Did I really ‘fit in’?
Did I say the right thing?
What did she think of me?
What’s my next move?
Check again, mate.

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Stigma is like ‘being off the guest list’! Here are a few more poems about stigma…

(and bear it!)

Stigma smiles
like a crocodile.


Stigma is in the eye
of the beholder.


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