Embracing Hopefulness during COVID-19 Poetry Exhibition


The Transcultural Mental Health Centre (TMHC) is excited to present this online exhibition of poetry developed in our 'Embracing Hopefulness during COVID-19' workshops.

Across October and November 2021 TMHC hosted a series of online poetry workshops entitled 'Embracing Hopefulness during COVID-19'. The workshops aimed to celebrate Mental Health Month in October and encourage a sense of hopefulness among members of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities during the pandemic. The workshops encouraged participants to express their experiences of hopefulness during COVID-19 through poetry. Held over five weeks, the workshops consisted of two series of three two-hour webinars, presented by Dimitrios Papalexis and Dr Glenda McDonald

We hope you enjoy the work of our poets!


Hope on a Dandelion

by Dipti Zachariah

Hope gathered, hope scattered. Hope shared. Hope doubled. Young boy in background wearing purple patterned t-shirt and holding a dandelion.




We will get back onto our feet

by John Akway Cham

I looked around,

And everything appears to be so scary on the ground,
All by myself,
However, I am spotting the sun rays

Feeling as if the world is coming to an end,
Like if the earth is gradually sinking
Into the deepest part of the raging sea of fire,
However, I still see butterflies flying.

Beating his broad chest on us,
Lingering in our cities and streets for us.
As we remain in our indoors, hiding in a greater fear for our life
However, I am still seeing the rainbow through my window.

Thousands depart unexpectedly every single day,
Rising the question every day,
“Am I the next?”
However, I still see the grass growing again.

A drawing of the silhouette of a pregnant woman looking down and holding her stomach of flowers


by Anu Shivaram

Ever so often the seed of a story
sneaks itself and gets implanted;
within the depths of my being
making me restless day and night.

Most seeds I throw out mercilessly;
the occasional stubborn one embeds itself.
I reluctantly let it stay; I have no choice,
it sprouts and grows of its own accord.

The story thrives, sucking my energy and sleep
people, places and characters, it draws into its body
It develops limbs and becomes formidably strong;
the gestation is uncomfortable, the time frames unknown.

I am too pregnant, I can’t hold it anymore
I have to deliver, whether it is ready or not.
Some kind souls will stop to check on my baby
I hope they understand, why she had to be born.


by Sapna Lazarus

Dark trees against a red sunset

An autumn sun sets
Glowing in the bush beyond
Silence! Birdcalls cease

Sweet Bird of Hope

(French Pantoum Form)
by Glenda McDonald

Far away in the East
A bird of sweet song lives
The bird dwells close to Healing Waters
Her song of hope alone can heal

A bird of sweet song lives
Singing a mystical melody
Her song of hope alone can heal
Turning hearts from despair

Singing a mystical melody
The bird dwells close to Healing Waters
Turning hearts from despair
Far away in the East

Unwelcome Guest Poem by Ana Zotelo

Unwelcome Guest

Unwelcome guest from far you came
Our lives have changed it feels so strange
We knew somehow we have to pause
Realize that living is worthy cause

Unwelcome guest from far you came
I want to scream, don't take us all
We have some hope to carry on
We'll hug again from dusk to dawn

Unwelcome guest we'll fly again
We trust our wings, we have offspring
We'll quench our thirst in mountain springs
No more goodbyes, we'll live again

Ana Isabel


Three people by a path snaking through colourful mountain landscape

The Face of Hope

(Free verse poem based on words associated to hope submitted by the community)
by Dimitrios Papalexis

In times of fear and despair,
the face of hope
depends on our perspective,
finding peace out of thin air..
how fair
hiding our passion
our flare??

The face of hope
depends on good faith,
believing in the unseen...
in an unwavering way,
trusting it will appear
trusting its already here!

In every crises
hides an opportunity,
to gather in unity..
to overcome our puberty...
to build community
to live in peace with each other...
to show affection,
to rejoice in our true connection.

The fight is wicked
but we are not giving up...
we persevere,
we fight
we build resilience
till we fill our inner cup.

Looking hope in the eyes
till it reveals its soul...
till the universe bends to our will
and help us realize our dreams
attain true success,
with elegance and finesse.

Beyond good intentions
a choice is revealed,
between our self-destruction
a different path
that of our curiosity,
a beautiful velocity...

Hope means joy,
it means vision,
the ability to envision
desired innovation,
for a better future
for elation...

Hope is great happiness
and exhilaration
working harmoniously together
to overcome our fears
till hope's face reappears.


A New Beginning

(Free Verse Poem)

by Dimitrios Papalexis

Here we are again,
holding each other's hand
and walking into the dark
with the only guiding star
the one within
that needs to shine brightly
so we don't get lost
and reach our final stop
a new beginning!


Waves breaking on a beach


by Sapna Lazaru

Sand scatters the beach 
Waves crash on the rocky shore
Blue water shimmers


Yellow, white and red flowers in bloom


by Sapna Lazarus

Flowers bloom around
In a floral symphony
My heart fills with joy

My Onion Pod Is standing Tall on my Kitchen Wall. Background of three small indoor plants and and red onion growing in a pot

My Onion Pod

by Antonia Kapsalis

"My Onion Pod
Is standing Tall
on my Kitchen Wall"


by Glenda McDonald

My red onion plant
Standing tall in my kitchen
Brings me hope today


Finding Balance

French Pantoum Poem
by Dimitrios Papalexis



Hope to hold on

by John Akway Cham

Listen to your heart and not to your ears,
Ever should we not doubt,
That what always comes after affliction is joy and relief,
Steady we continue standing, the sooner we will get there.

Keenly, let’s focus ahead,
Eyes at the horizons,
Eager to get there before long,
Putting it into our mind that it is where we will breathe.

That day is soon coming,
Happiness and smiles will be on our faces,
Ending the long darkest night.

Hovering over will be the victorious atmosphere,
Once and for all,
Perky and restful,
Ending those horrible days.

 Mulberries, Strawberries, Rhubarb and Greek Yoghurt

by Antonia Kapsalis

pihsdneirF Loneliness

(Reverse Poem)

by Dimitrios Papalexis

Friendship doesn't exist
So don’t try to convince me that
It's worth investing time in friends
Because the more I think about it
My friends don’t love me
So I am not going to lie to myself saying that
Friendship is a real thing
And I will try to remember that
Building friendships is time wasted
So no arguments will convince me that
I have friends who care about me
Because no matter what
I deserve to be alone
And I know it's a lie to believe that I deserve kindness from others
Because every time I reflect, I always think
Does true friendship exist?

(Now read the poem from bottom-up)

lufituaeB Lies

(Acrostic and Reverse Poem)
by Dimitrios Papalexis

True love doesn’t exist
Remember not to try to convince yourself that
U will ever find the right one
Endlessly wondering if
Love will never come your way
Oh dont lie to to yourself that
Vulnerability is worth it
Eventually you will realise
Electricity flows through your body
Xerographically fixating on lost love
Its pointless
Surrender your hopes
Try not to
Stop to ponder life

The first letter of each line of the poem spells out a secret message. What is it?
Now read the poem from bottom-up

Stark tree branch with tiny buds against purple sky

Embracing Hopefulness

by Margaret Rush

Hopefulness is a mainstay of living
Accepting the next moment will be wonderful
Accepting the next moment will be manageable
Accepting the next moment will open doors to a new direction or experience
Accepting the next moment is only a moment away
Accepting the next moment will be what it will be


by Dipti Zachariah

Physical distance To build resistance And protect our Existence! Two lizards on fallen tree branch

Physical Distance
To build Resistance
And protect our Existence!


A poem inspired by Embracing Hopefulness workshops

by Glenda McDonald

We are like stars each time we meet
Our courses clash, collide and shift
Our words like comets sizzle and flash
Our insights sparkle as jewels of light
Bearing witness to our plight
We are a crew that embraces hope
We set our course to explore the Self
Poetry is our rocket ship


Mushroom Field

Antonia Kapsalas (July 06)

Morning walk, together with my dog,
Mushroom field, full of childhood dreams.

Reminiscing my country of birth,
Reflecting, filtering the good with the bad
Colour, sounds, greens and browns.

Breathing fresh air, enjoying natures
treasures, birds, trees the sun
and the wind, all in harmony.

Enchanting melody, calmness and sweet.
A mushroom field with happy memories.


by Serna 

Children, the joy of parents, the hope of the world, they are God’s gift
Happiness they bring
Innocence they show
Love and comfort of the family
Dreaming for the future
Ready to go anywhere without hesitation and fear
Excitement very contagious and energy overflowing
No one could stop their enthusiasm and we truly love them.

How many have we gone through?

By John Akway Cham

Have we not witnessed the world trying to shake us off down?
Washing us away with floods?
And starving us to death?
Yes, and we have gone through it,
And we will still see this behind us.

Have we not watched the death, forcing us to separate with our loved one?
Terrifying us that we have no power, not even one,
But to follow our loved one,
Yes, we have seen it,

And we will still see this behind us.

Have we not seen the pandemics’ strife?
Trying to threaten our life?
Cholera, SARS, MERS, Ebola
And now Covid-19.
Haven’t we overcome it?
Yes, and we will still go through this.


by John Akway Cham

Fresh, everlasting
Promising, restoring, healing
heart, soul, sunrise, rainbow
Steadying, assuring, determining
Optimistic, confidence

The Rising and The Falling

 The Rising & The Falling

Kendall Benton-Collins

The rising and the falling waves,
Both a blessing and a struggle,
For life, of life,
To live is to be thrown high.

Both a blessing and a struggle,
To cling too tightly is to slip,
To live is to be thrown high,
And to fall without nets into hope.

To cling too tightly is to slip,
For life, of life,
And to fall without nets into hope,
The rising and the falling waves.



Peacock with brightly coloured train


by Sapna Lazarus

Beauty around me
The majestic peacock struts
Sunlight filters through

Tall trees in a forest


by Sapna Lazarus 


Feelings of wonder
Looking up at timeless trees
Reaching for the sky


My Best Day

(Found Poem Form)
by Glenda McDonald

Gently steamed, gently perfumed
A radiant smile
New. Free
Kickstart my day
Connected to health, connected to hope

Unlock the pages
Under armour
Double defence
Looks a little tame
So, burn baby burn

Eat well, breathe easier
Get a grip
Satisfy my mind, body and be well
Bright ideas
Discover a new way

Fruitful reminders
I love every minute of this work
Staking my claim
Making my art
Writing my soul

Beach at sunset


by Margaret Rush

Life's cycles
Leave debris on the shore
To be washed away by the next tide
Now here
Now changed
Now transformed.

Emerge from the  darkness, bloom and follow the light. Seed pods, plants growing in pots, At dusk

Symbol of Hope
Planted some Sunflower Seed
And watch them grow
Following the Sun
For warmth and Hope

by Antonia Kapsalis

Revive - a narrative poem

by Dimitrios Papalexis


Single shard of grass against white background


by Margaret Rush
  A piece of paper
a thought, then another
until there is a poem. 


HOPE STONE against background of smooth, grey stones

Hope Stone

by Anonymous

     We are countless stones lining the shores,
     Shaped by her eternal nature,
     Rigid, unyielding yet passive- laid bare;
     Tired of endless cycles of deluge and sunburn,
     Yearning for change from these stagnant grounds,
     To feel rare in a rush to destinations unknown;
     Though conditions must align like the heavenly stars,
     Right shape, right angle, right speed, right spin
     A split second of flight towards everlasting glory,
     Whomsoever among us will be chosen to go
    The hands of time have smoothed my rough edges,
    Waves of friends have come, waves of friends have gone,
    And me, a stern stone in solitude,
    Indifferent to unchartered lands or water dwellers;
    I must ‘hold onto hope’ and not let these dreams drift,
    Longing to be elevated to ‘Skipping Stone’
    Free in flight til a loud splash or dashing dance,
    My destiny of ripples
                                 will leave their

Smooth grey stones in water, sunset on the water and headland in the distance


(Acrostic Poem)
by Dimitrios Papalexis

Hurry not to untie your heart's knot
Oh it can be a big burden, I know
People who are brave to keep afloat
Eager to find hope
Finding meaning in a new plot
Unfulfilled they feel not
Like that knot that keeps coming back
Never willing to give up
Even when things get tough
Stoically persisting to be strong
Staring at the eye of fear for a chance to find hope

From Despair to Hope

(Diamante Poem - antonym)
by Dimitrios Papalexis

Beautiful, Sweet
Refreshing, Loving, Healing
Light, Promise, Knot, Dark
Frightening, Agonising, Persisting
Dark, Fear

Wishing for Hope

(Diamante Poem - synonym)
by Dimitrios Papalexis

Kind, Sweet
Refreshing, Promising, Pleasing
Hug, Love, Child, Future
Energising, Motivating, Daring
Thoughtful, Big


(Haiku Poem) 
by Dimitrios Papalexis

Warmth touching the skin
Sunlight dancing in the fields
Children rejoicing

Woman vaccuming away the cobwebs in her head

The Cleansing Breath

by Anu Shivaram

Take a deep breath, inhale freshness, energy and positivity,
Unleash that energy to clean up every corner of the mind
exhale deeply, pushing out the old unwanted remnants
use Brahmari to create a humming bee within your being.

Release the bee into a garden, fragrant with blooms
feel free; the garden is your own, it’s a safe haven.
observe as the bee hops merrily from flower to flower,
it sings and hums as it collects nectar from each flower.

Peace from the lilies, serenity from the scented rose,
forgiveness from jasmines, determination from daffodils,
courage from carnations, happiness from the hibiscus,
cheer from the sunflower, tolerance from the tender tulips.

Watch; as the friendly bee makes a beehive in your mind,
and fills each cell lovingly with the nectar from these flowers,
the mind is now a sweet, fragrant beehive filled to the brim
how can bitterness stay when the hive overflows with nectar?


by Glenda McDonald

                           Cactus green and grey
                           Spiky prickles can’t delay
                           Hope dressed in yellow


Rainbow, bubbles and butterflies against a bright blue sky

Carpe Diem!

by Anu Shivaram

Create joyous memories; that last beyond you
knock on a dear friend’s door unannounced.
Sing with them a favorite song; in tune or miserably out
Buy an expensive gift; doesn’t matter if you are broke.

Bunk work one morning, whisk away your spouse to the beach
let the memory of the ocean sparkle; each time they open their eyes.
Sip a coffee watching sunrise; a late start makes your day more productive
Walk slowly with parents to the temple, bring a spring to the elderly steps.

Write your child that thank you note; you thought, but long forgot
drive down a new road, take a detour; the air feels fresher
cook your sibling a tasty dish; adding calories of joy and excitement
Don’t hide those words waiting in your heart; for they will live beyond you.

Womand outdoors wearing sunglasses, face mask and hat. Two indoor potplants

Surviving & Thriving Through Diversity ( COVID-19)

by Antonia Kapsalis

You never prepared when changes occur.
Restrictions, conditions, Isolation and separations.
Detached, lonely, uncertainty trying to keep my sanity.
Caring, sharing ,giving and loving.

Persevere, reflect, how do I cope with this mess?
Family divided.
You try to make a sense of it all.
Support your kids, your family & than....What?

What about me, you pause and you think.

Suddenly an awakening!
A sign a thought.
Out of the blue my "Peace Lily has bloomed.
A good Omen I thought.
A sense of Hope, Peace, and Renew.

What did I learned, what can I teach?
Copping with adversity?

Naturing relationships and keeping connections with family and friends,
Strengthening our selfs.

To cope to Learn, Surviving and Thriving
When changes occur.

Scrabble board with POEMS across the middle in scrabble letter tiles


by Eileen McDonald

Waiting for hope today,
Anticipation of positive changes,
Is not just naive optimism,
This is my power in action