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Frank Prem, Poet and Author


Frank has been an author and poet for forty years and has written mainly about his experiences with the mental health system, recently about his time working a psychiatric nurse.

This year, Frank attended our HACSU Conference to perform spoken-word poetry and talk about his poetry and his new book ‘The New Asylum, - a memoir of psychiatry’. Frank has also been published in magazines, online zines and anthologies, both here in Australia as well as in other countries around the world. Frank also has two previously published poetry collections ‘Small Town Kid’ (2018) and ‘Devil In The Wind’ (2019).

Frank’s new book is a memoir of his 40 years working in psychiatry, and his experience working in nursing. Frank has written about the book, “I have many stories to tell about my childhood adventures in psychiatry, and my later journey – an inheritance bequeathed by my parents, I sometimes think – as a Student Nurse, then a qualified Psychiatric Nurse working in acute settings, a manager of such services, and ultimately back again, as an older generation nurse, working with a few folk who have acquired long term or lifelong disabilities as a result of their psychiatric illnesses.

I’m looking forward to sharing these stories with you in my forthcoming collection – The New Asylum – a memoir of psychiatry.”

Frank has very kindly shared an excerpt from the book for members to read below. You can also find out more about Frank’s work on his website and you can purchase his book HERE, or by writing directly to Frank to arrange for him to provide you with a signed and dedicated copy.


not a lot anymore

(from: The New Asylum)


we're standing in the staff courtyard

it's break time

and we're doing coffee and a cigarette

when he says to me


I've always worked in psych

I love it


I've never been tempted

by anything else


it's changed though

from the old days


a hell of a lot really


he takes a deep drag

lets out the blue smoke

of a reflective moment

has another sip from the styrofoam cup

and says


you know what


about a year ago

we had a real old-fashioned case come in

like we used to get

in the old days


no drugs

no family history

no obvious causes

just crazy


mad as a cut snake actually


it was a first presentation

and it took a while

but we fixed him up

he got better and we turned him loose

he hasn't been back


that's what I like best

good straightforward madness

that you can do something with


but you don't see much of that