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The Recovery Project Collaboration: ‘Creatives Making a Difference’

4 Jun


More than several months ago I had an idea about creating a mini-collaboration on the theme of the mental health term  ‘Recovery’. This is not only particularly relevant to me because I have bi-polar and am in a state of recovery myself, but also because ‘recovery’ is important for lots of people (including creatives) who are affected my mental health issues. It’s a universally important theme and experience.

With this in mind I asked the poets Carol Robson, John Mansell and Rebecca Audra Smith (all accessed via Twitter)  if they would like to collaborate on this and write a poem for the project, each taking up a particular facet of the path to recovery. Carol took up the theme of DESPAIR, John, MUDDLING THROUGH and Rebecca ‘RECOVERY’. I asked 3 artists who were then paired with the poets: Ray Bentley, Photographer Jeremy Moseley and Hugo Smith (all accessed via Twitter) to produce artwork inspired by the three poems. I also asked audio visual artist Shaun Blezard to write an accompanying soundpiece for the three sections. So this whole project is completely fuelled by new literary pieces, artwork/photography and sounds. The piece can viewed in sections or be taken as a whole. I have also produced a mini-film  which includes audio versions of the poems, and will give you an idea of the piece as a whole and how it could be turned into an installation of sorts (watch this space…).  It is worth mentioning that everyone involved in this project either has direct experience of the issues or an explicit interest.

The Recovery Project is an important bench-mark for ArtiPeeps for it really represents the first contribution to a new mental health initiative we are going to be instigating more explicitly in October: ‘Supporting Mental Health’.  This ongoing  initiative will produce collaborative material which will form an online artistic and  therapeutic resource for people in need. This will be part of other larger shifts in ArtiPeeps’ intent. There will be more news of this and its implications as time unfolds. But it’s all good.



“Recovery is being able to live a meaningful and satisfying life, as defined by each person, in the presence or absence of symptoms. It is about having control over and input into your own life. Each individual’s recovery, like his or her experience of the mental health problems or illness, is a unique and deeply personal process.”Scottish Recovery Network 2009

Recovery is not about ‘getting rid of problems’. It is about seeing people beyond their problems – their abilities, possibilities, interests, and dreams and recovering the social roles and relationships that give life value and meaning”Julie Repper and Rachel Perkins, 2002



by Shaun Blezard

Section 1


Restraint Chair No.1 (crop)

Restraint Chair No.1 by Ray Bentley


Another Psychosis

by Carol Robson


Here in a place, which I should be
I need to be here and in all places
Yet! an urge to run rages through me
fear of physical contact, my brain now in overload
here, feeling alone in a place full of people.

Like a frightened gazelle
taunted by its hunter
I search for the exit to safety
an egress to my solitary state
my place of safety in my Prozac stained mind.

Neural networks firing their manic impulses
ignoring my vain attempt of rational logic
craving for their mania overload
knowing again, they will fight a long battle
against the Lithium army, that will bring them down.

Highs and lows come and go
trying to live your normal life
my exterior facade is all you see
as it hides a mind and soul in turmoil
just trying to get through to the next hour.

A life in a day to day existence
that craves for whatever is normal
a time bomb mind with a fragile trigger
controlled by whatever the drug of choice is.

Clinging to a life of hopes and dreams
that is out of this drug controlled despair
I will one day rise again like the Phoenix
out of the ashes, of Another Psychosis.

© Carol Robson 2011


Section 2:


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Photography by Jeremy Moseley




Solitary Lights in a Forsaken Landscape

by John Mansell


Day opens like a strange flower.
Had it really closed?

Eyes adrift with bitter tears.
I see you viewing me with unease,
…………toothbrush in hand;
Do not call me stranger.
Do not make me mute
……….by filling my mouth with dread.
Lined linear colour,
the implements of survival
…………in their little compartments
…………………….with designated times…..
Consumption of the divine;
a woman purled in momentary
silence forages the impression
that once she knew me.
And then, like a shoot that appeared too soon
……….is gone…..
Each moment a disgrace to pleasure:
………..the floods of worry
…………………..have strewn me along
…………………..various embankments…..
And when certain suns shine,
I know it is a worry
as unnecessary as
…………the solitude I veil myself with…..
Walk with me these grim corridors.
Though I was able yesterday, today I have fears
that arrest me.
I see faces and eyes rimmed with farewells.
I hear names spoken,
and children laughing…..
If I listen intently enough, I am sure
one of those children is me…..
I am sure there were good days once…..

Shift the falling grains
so they rumple not to the
………..gathering years
but the trench of a memory
…………you think may have held yesterday;
as if your yesterday never existed.
The moisture of dreams drowns
the fallen edifice of your time…..
You are, but never was
because you fear
what you were for it would exhibit
………what you
………………..would be…..
you keeper of empty paintings.
Sleep in a place
where time is a flick of a page;
the dying groans of lost hope,
the flippant drapery
………..of a night
that will come despite
…………your efforts, thief of my life
…………despoiler of all I held beautiful…..

Day closes like a strange flower.
Had it really opened?

 Section 3:


trying for the brighter by Hugo Smith

‘Trying For the Brighter’ by Hugo Smith



by Rebecca Audra Smith


Hunting for the key
that can slot into my ear
unlock who I am, with
its slow turn and click.
I can hear it in my head,
doors open to staircases lead
to cellars where weeds chatter
about sunshine, light and seed.
Fumbled fingers in the bed
searching for a lighter
to set fire to the sun,
board a chariot, ride far.
I could have burnt my home
to ash, to dust- my family
rooting for my bones;
I’m trying for the brighter.
Planting keyholes inside tulips,
my hands are full of keys
each day a little lighter,
a stronger step for me.

The Recovery Film:



The Tiniest of Things #3: The Warehouse

14 May

box people

Welcome to The Tiniest of Things, A monthly mix of ‘writerly’ observations and poetry from poet Tiffany Coffman


My name is Tiffany Coffman, and I’m a poet. I know. It sounds like quite the declaration of an addiction, and in some way I suppose it is. I have no formal education or a degree hanging on my wall, but what I do have is the breadth of my life experience and the appetite for creativity that drives me to write. Poetry has been with me since childhood, a curious cohort that has permitted me to get absolutely lost in imagination and disclose what I absorb through the senses, through memories. As a creative, the ability to bend words to my advantage, whether in rhyme or by natural flow, then revel in the middle of it all is the stuff of magic. I write from an organic place, a place of fidelity, wherein I attempt to gift the reader with imagery and storytelling so inviting that you’ll have felt you’ve shared something with me. I don’t write for myself. I write to take you along with me on a ride of emotions and confessions, whether they’re mine or yours. So we’ll take the top down, throw the map away, kiss the asphalt, and roll.



Every man has reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has other matters in his mind which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But there are other things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind.” – Dostoyevsky

The Warehouse

I wasn’t raised by the warmest of mothers. My memories of her are of emotional and verbal abuse and heavily lacking in affection. I despised burnt toast as a child (still do) and more often than not my mother burnt mine. While my sister had no issues eating it, I couldn’t stand the taste, so my mother would have to make another batch. There was just something about the surface taste of burnt toast that I found unappealing and possibly a little uncaring on her part. How easy it seemed for my mother not to care.

As writers, we must care about our work even though it means digging deeper and paying closer attention to what we’re attempting to do; how we’re attempting to affect others with our writing. Staying on the surface as a writer can be unappealing and lack tremendous flavor for the reader, but for the writer it may be the safest place to reside. Herein you never have to push boundaries within yourself and can churn out work comfortably and at a nice clip with minimal reveal. In essence, there is no danger.

Every day I take the same route to work, but the past few weeks I’ve noticed a man of average age in the mornings walking the length of the block. He strikes me as odd as he walks at a slow pace always wearing the same clothes. There is nothing unusual I notice about him that would make sense of the slowed way in which he walks except that he appears to be quite content meandering back and forth. I began to wonder if he ever left the block, or changed his clothes, or if he gets a wild hair and sprints for a few. What if we do this as writers? What if we get stuck on the same length of block, never venturing beyond into danger, finding ourselves content to remain in our safety zone?

Danger is a grand thing as a writer. It’s imperative if you intend to evolve beyond everything you believe about yourself. I’m not talking necessarily about revealing your secrets in a confessional manner, but you have to dig deep as a writer and find pieces of your unique experiences to flavor a piece or add dimension to characters. You can only do this by revealing those things inside yourself that are deeply recessed. This type of self-understanding will add authenticity to your work as the reader will find you credible and real regardless of what type of writing you do. It’s all about connection between the reader and writer as you never write for yourself alone.

I’m always looking for ways to change things up as a writer as I can get stuck in a particular way or on a particular theme. By constantly challenging and pushing yourself by tapping into those raw materials you’ve so conveniently stored away in the warehouse, you will allow for the most engaging write that when exported to the reader will give them a sense of who you are. This realness that you deliver will

keep them coming back to explore your work, connecting. And it’s not about attempting with your writing to be different for the sake of being different at all. In fact, should you deliver something that feels in the slightest way faked or forced the reader will call you out. It’s not about being different but going deeper; getting off that same stale length of block and seeing what courage lies in you to move further down the road.

 As writers, it’s our job to see the extraordinary out of the ordinary – to dig up those dusty memories we’ve buried so deeply and examine and expose them. W.B. Yeats said, “Why should we honour those that die upon the field of battle? A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.” So it’s not about finding a different abyss, or scratching the surface, but really diving in to the

depths of your own warehouse that will take your writing to the next courageous level. It’s not in any way easy at times digging up old bones, but I say better to be an archaeologist than a grave digger. Fall crazy, mad in love with the abyss of who you are. That’s where the good stuff is. Take a courageous peek at what you think you believe about yourself – your recollections – and then weave it into words.

 A few weeks ago while making breakfast I burnt my toast. It was the last two pieces of bread I had left and damn it, I needed that toast. So I decided to scrape the burnt surface off to see if that removed the terrible flavor I’d always hated. Sure enough it did. In scratching the surface I’d discovered something deeper; a mother who could’ve just as easily scraped off the surface in lieu of making another batch of toast for me. And in that moment, she was the most caring mother.

 Dive deep into the warehouse.



You can find more of Tiffany’s poetry and prose here:


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