26 Nov 2023

Ōtautahi’s whiskey-chasing advocate for mental health and poetry

From Culture 101, 2:30 pm on 26 November 2023
Ciaran Fox

Ciaran Fox Photo: supplied

On the back cover of his recently published first book of poems, Crackle in the Rain, Ciaran Fox describes himself as a whisky-chasing sensualist, poet, father and born-again skateboarder. 

He is also an ardent supporter of emerging writers: a regular co-host of Poetry Slam and a cofounder of the long-running open mic night and literary journal Catalyst, now in its 21st year. 

The cover of Catalyst journal #20

The cover of Catalyst journal #20 Photo: supplied

Ciaran Fox is a major promoter of mental health, working for the Mental Health Foundation. Following the Canterbury earthquakes in 2011 he helped develop All Right? the foundation’s award-winning partnership with Canterbury DHB’s Community & Public Health and in 2020 the All Right? team created a programme to support mental wellbeing as Aotearoa dealt with the global Covid-19 pandemic. 

Currently screening nationally is the foundation’s inaugural Aotearoa Mental Health Film Festival, featuring nine local films spanning animation, documentary and drama. For this, Fox has been leading discussion on the representation of mental health in arts and culture, the role of storytelling, and the arts role in “re-imagining a society where everyone can flourish”.

Crackle in the Rain was the runner-up in the inaugural John O’Connor First Book Award. It is published by the Republic of Oma Rāpiti Press and available here.