Poetry Corner

NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Poetry Program

Open Mic

Poetry is an expression of the soul as unique as every individual who puts the pen to paper. We at NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Network maintain that any creative expression of an individual is a poem whether it rhymes or not; whether it is one word or pages long.




NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Mental Health Poetry Contest 2020

April is the National Poetry Month and May is Mental Health Awareness Month. NAMI New Jersey inaugurated the Annual NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Mental Health Poetry Contest in 2014 with enthusiastic response from our community.

It’s time once again to put pen to paper and draft some poetry for our Annual NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Mental Health Poetry Contest!

View previous contests



Virtual Poetry Workshop 

Although its winter and the skies are mostly grey, we don’t have to let our insides be that way. A new year is here! We can e-merge.

This winter we invite you to send poems of personal inspiration like e-merge by our host Jacquese Armstrong.

Our first entry is by Nicole Jordan. Maybe you would like to join her. We look forward to reading your creations!

Please send poems to poetry@naminj.org with your name and contact information, and mail your media release form (if you have not previously sent it) to NAMI NJ, 1562 Route 130, North Brunswick, NJ 08902.

About Our Workshop Host – Jacquese Armstrong

Jacquese Armstrong is a poet/writer/inspirational speaker and has been a NAMI NJ volunteer for about 8 years. Her work has been published in Black Magnolias Literary Journal, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Blackberry: a magazine, SZ Magazine, Anchor Magazine and BlackMentalHealthNet.com. She earned her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Toledo, Toledo, OH.  View one of her poems: “inner crown (reflections on healing)”.


Previous Virtual Workshop Poems:

Fall 2018 theme – “Nature”

Autumn Leaves – by Jeff Varanyak

Rise – by Kathy Lash

Sunflowers – by Ayesha Karim

Spring 2017 theme – “Remembrance”

 “dear grandmommy.” – by Jacquese Armstrong

Barbara” – by Jeff Varanyak

For the Lost” – by Melissa Kiritsis

The Way I Will Be Remembered To Be a poem” – by Ayesha Karim

Winter 2016 theme – “Holiday”

pictures of Christmas” – by Jacquese Armstrong

Christmas” – by Ron Cassmassine

Untitled” – by Kelly Brennan

Summer 2016 theme – “in our own voice

in my own voice (walkin in my shoes)  – by Jacquese Armstrong

Fall 2015 theme – “stigma

i carry the ‘m’ card ( i didn’t deal the deck)  – by Jacquese Armstrong
– by Ben Hu

Summer 2015 theme – “gratitude attitude

A NEW DAY DAWNS – by Sandy G.
Gratitude Poem – by Taylor Bak
Lead by Spirit – by Michael Loberfeld



Poetry Showcase

After each spring, poems submitted for the annual NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Mental Health Poetry Contest will be showcased here in the Poetry Corner. The 2017 contest submissions are now being featured, five poems a month, listed in alphabetical order by poem title. We hope these poems touch you, too.



My Favorite Song – The Sky’s the Limit – Carl Walden
My song asking for freedom – Elisa Rendon
Repose in Rhyme – Maryann Martin
Untitled – Melanie Aaron Pappas



A Fugue on Meditation – Eileen Fisher
Free to Express – Jennifer Bristol
Masters Over ManiaStrawberry Gallagher
My song asking for freedom – Elisa Rendon
Untitled – Margaret Pernice



All or Nothing – Patricia Urban Korsak
Enslaved In The Name – Ethel Mack
My Soundtrack of You – Tony Ciavolella
Prosper/Moi – Shannah Beckett
The Fiery Soul that Leads You Home – Shari Fridman



Music to my Ears – Nora Weiss
My Favorite Song – The Sky’s the Limit – Carl Walden
The “Perfect” Song – Annie Glynn
Silence Song – Anastasia Lambros
war drum – Olivia Matthews