Birdsong from Inobservable Worlds Book Project – Call for Contributions

Dolly Sen, mad writer, filmmaker and artist, is looking for contributors to three books as part of her Birdsong from Inobservable Worlds project, funded by Unlimited and hosted by the Wellcome Collection.

Birdsong from Inobservable Worlds explores and challenges the narrative in existing mental health archives, and adds missing voices to the current archives of madness. Medical archives and libraries are sorely lacking the survivor voice, especially the survivor voice of those more likely to be pathologized and ill-treated due to their colour, gender or sexuality.

Our basic premise is that psychiatry in all sorts of ways, but especially in patient notes, demean and make the human being ugly. We want to use the project to switch that dynamic, that we show where psychiatry is ugly, and that mad reclaim beauty to be theirs. 

The three publications will be survivor accounts of being in the mental health system or how that particular discrimination caused mental distress. I will look at the experiences of being a woman, being a person of colour, and being LGBT+, as this is how I experienced the mental health system, and is the starting point of the project. I will be telling my story and want to share the book with those voices that get pushed aside. The starting point is my story and that’s why we are only concentrating on these groups of people.

If you can get your story onto paper and are based in the UK, we want to hear from you.

Volume one – the experience of being a woman in the mental health system, and/or how sexism, misogyny, etc contributed to mental distress.

Volume two – the experience of being a person of colour in the mental health system and/or how racism contributed to mental distress.

Volume three – the experience of being a LGBT+ person in the mental health system and/or how homophobia, biphobia, transphobia etc contributed to mental distress.

These will be very specific books. We want them to be radical books. We want to tell the truth about being the mental health system, how it affects people and their lives and what they would have wanted instead.

These books will be edited by an experienced survivor editor. In the area she is not experienced in (POC), we will have an advisory person on board to be part of the project.

We understand we all inhabit intersectionalities, this can be brought into the writing too, but you can only choose one book to contribute to.

Each person will get £100 for their contribution, or the equivalent value in shopping vouchers if it affects benefits.

Expression of interest deadline – 30 Nov 2021

Chapter submission deadline – 1 Feb 2022

We are looking for:

  • Personal accounts of your experience in the British mental health system or of mental distress/ill health and the connections with being a person of colour and/or with your gender and/or sexuality.
  • B&W images/art on the same topics.

Pieces can be up to 3000 words. B&W images/art should fit in a 6”x 9”book. We’re looking for pieces written in a style that’s accessible to most readers, i.e. non-academic, no jargon, etc.

Please submit your contact details, a synopsis of your chapter (300 words or less), and a short bio, and say which book you would like to submit to. Please send to

If you are interested but need more info, click here

Please send your expression of interest or queries to