In this her fifth collection of poetry, award-winning poet Karen Knight captures with disarming skill, sensitivity and piercing black humour her experiences as an inmate at the Royal Derwent Psychiatric Hospital (RDH) in 1969.
Postcards from the Asylum arises from Knight’s resolve to come to terms with being sent to live at the RDH as a young woman who, like many of her era, was perceived to be challenging the system and the status quo of the 1960’s. For concerned parents who saw their authority being questioned, the hospital was seen as providing a more stable environment for a teenager to deal with her rebellious nature.
Postcards from the Asylum encapsulate’s Knight’s frustration and confusion where her everyday is askew. She reflects on the confronting experiences of being institutionalised and submitting to the power of the doctors and medication, reminding us that although the patients may be sick they are neither childish nor stupid.
The anxiety and unease in some of the poems describe a devastating experience and yet were written for cathartic reasons.
Karen Knight says she wrote these poems “to show that something positive can come out of an experience that most people would prefer to avoid.”
“I wanted to make a statement for all those people who couldn’t speak up,” she said.
The hope is that this collection of poems will draw attention to the plight of individuals who suffer from mental illness.
Karen Knight is an award winning poet. Her awards include: the Arts ACT 2007 Alec Bolton Award; the Australia Council and Dorothy Hewitt Flagship Fellowship Award for Poetry; and development grants from Arts Tasmania.
Knight’s poetry has been widely published in Australian and international anthologies, newspapers and literary journals.
Postcards from the Asylum by Karen Knight is published in Australia by Pardalote Press. The book will be officially launched by Dr. Pete Hay in Hobart (Tasmania) on Sunday, 24 August 2008.
Further details including samples of poetry are available from the website www.pardalote.com.au