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Trigger Warning: This piece addresses mental health

The HWA is pleased to launch its Mental Health Initiative, a coordinated roll-out of events, resources, and activities intended to promote positive mental health, foster the concept of hope, and challenge the stigma of mental illness in the horror genre. The initiative, run by the organization’s Wellness Committee, launches in June, and includes the following blog posts from Of Horror and Hope, a downloadable anthology of poems, flash fiction, and personal reflections on mental health by HWA members.


Sumiko Saulson

My mother was a griot in the streets of L.A.
On a crushed velvet poster sold back in the day
Where a woman in profile wore an Afro, natural hair wild and free
And in the cursive before her, my mom’s poetry

I was a Seventies child in braids and rollerskates
Pouring my internal life out on paper with pen,
Crafting imaginary worlds from within
Entire galaxies growing just under my skin

I have always had a lot of imagination
Sometimes my mind gets the better of me
For I feel, smell, and envision things others can’t see
Psychotic features, in the parlance of psychiatry

In the imaginarium, where my characters lie
There are such conversations between them and I
When those conversations grow loud enough, others can hear
I get kind of embarrassed when others are near

My grandfather spoke to himself in the streets
If I’ve walked in his shoes, then I walked with my feet
Down the alleyway dark arguing with myself
It’s not always the greatest…my own mental health

There are system malfunctions, where I start to unwind
In and out of hospitals, kind of losing my mind
It gets pulled back together, but in a new state
Multiple minds conflate, join, and then separate

I was blessed with a mom who could self-advocate
And could advocate for both her father and me
Who taught her children and grandchildren self-advocacy
And a sense of self-esteem and personal identity
As members of the disability rights community

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