‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ interrogates the original ideal that the asylum represented – a place of refuge, sanctuary and care – and asks whether and how it could be reclaimed. This blog series intends to showcase as many different voices and perspectives from people with lived experience of mental ill health and explore their ideas of personal asylum.

This post is from Karim Harvey, an accomplished poet whose writing practice, in his own words, “heeds the decline of moral ambition, isolation and creative inclusion.”

Nearly forty years ago I spent time in an old asylum. The revolving door syndrome ensued. There was sparing hope for my condition, and enforced medication. The poem below relates to little wonder and physical confinement. The reality, the escape through the mind. And how recovery through the mental health maze can happen. Asking questions, still having the ability to dream.

In my early forties I was accepted for Gender Reassignment. Now many years later I live successfully in my role as a man. My journey is just beginning.

The Wonder of the Asylum

A refuge found is the harbinger of
the space between my ears
It is sanctuary cared for the
holding place

The asylum withering or a
wonderous retreat
The bolted doors less then
their closed minds

I wrote of the offal of my
detention
I stayed practiced to the
truth
I am not defined by Schizophrenia
I project it

All patrons have the need to clasp
The fantasy of life’s unreason
I call my vote for a party
Insane as their politics

The asylum who wonders where
Are mostly those who ask the
incarcerated
The question why

Karim is a poet who transcends mental health. Follow him on Twitter and read more of his poetry on his website.

Bedlam: the asylum and beyond‘ is on until 15 January 2017.

3 thoughts on “A drop in the ocean: Karim Harvey

  1. This was a really powerful poem and a great visualisation of what Wellcome is trying to achieve with ‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond.‘ Thank you also for bringing the work of Karim Harvey to my attention, I look forward to reading more of his poetry 🙂

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