Like limbs on your own body, writing begins as an extremely personal exercise, says indigenous poet Evelyn Araluen.
"You never expect anyone to connect as deeply to your own work," she adds.
And yet the potency of this 28-year-old's evocative and highly lauded work has been felt far beyond the reaches of her imaginings.
The Bundjalung descendant - born and raised in Dharug country - says she is honoured to have been asked to present one of her own poems at Monday's Albury-Wodonga Winter Solstice.
Organiser Annette Baker says Araluen's writing struck a chord, particularly a poem commissioned by The Big Anxiety festival in 2019:
... "None of this is to say that I'm healing, or that what's here is ready to rest, It says I lost my days to my mind, I didn't get what I wanted, when I gave it my time ..." (an extract from 'Interior Anxious')
Araluen believes art has the power to "shift conversations", to foster solidarity and compassion in communities.
And it is helping to create more "loving dialogues" in the mental health space.
A young woman who has been open about her own experience with anxiety and disordered eating and watched loved ones battle severe mental ill-health, Araluen knows the importance of being a voice for those who feel alone in their struggles.
"Poetry can give people the language they may not have been able to find themselves, particularly with something as isolating and stigmatising as mental health," she says.
"When you can't explain it to yourself, how can you explain it to others?
"Those issues can be compounded when we feel alone in our experiences."
Araluen accepts there is an "afterlife" to her poems and that "people interpret my work in unexpected ways".
"You give them up, in a sense, like maybe they need it more."
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