Madness in Song; Dementia in Poetry is the topic of psychiatrist, Sean Baumann and poet, Finuala Dowling’s presentation on Thursday 5 May.

Sean Baumann presents and comments on excerpts from his opera, A Song of Madness – a multi-media work which tracks the descent of a promising young architect into a world of delusion and darkness. Finuala Dowling reads and gives context to poems from her collection, Notes from the Dementia Ward, which tracks her mother’s decline into dementia and her move from home to a frail care ward.

Questions raised will include: What is madness? What is it like to care for the ‘mad’? In a society with mounting socio-economic needs and wants, bombarded with expectations and aspirations that seem impossible to satisfy, pitted against challenges that appear insurmountable, how might we understand madness in ways that are more progressive and empathic? Can we be less hysterical about how we choose to address the possibilities that madness presents us with today?

Sean Baumann is a senior specialist psychiatrist with a special interest in schizophrenia. He is the Senior Consultant for the Male Acute Service at Valkenberg Hospital, and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at UCT.

Finuala Dowling is a poet and Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies at UCT where she is co-convenor of the annual Summer School. Her first collection of poetry, I Flying, won the Ingrid Jonker Prize; her second, Doo-Wop Girls of the Universe, was a co-winner of the Sanlam prize, and her third, Notes from the Dementia Ward, won the Olive Schreiner Prize.

The presentation, followed by an open question and answer session, will take place on Thursday 5 May from 17:30 – 19:00 in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Old Medical School Building, UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31 – 37 Orange Street, Cape Town.  Refreshments will be served from 17:00. No booking is necessary and all are welcome.

Listen to the podcast here.

For more information, contact the ICA office: +27 21 650 7156 or

Start: 5 May ’16 5:00 pm

End: 5 May ’16 7:00 pm

Cost: Free


Organizer: ICA


Venue: Anatomy Lecture Theatre

Phone: +27 21 650 7156

Address: Google Map UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa