‘Poets what use are they when so many grapple with the hard world.
But poetry is a pension fund the stealthy shadow,
waking you in the dark demanding:
‘what are you here for’.
From A Secret Salvation in The Call of the Unwritten
I wrote these lines in 2010 after deciding to make a go of being a poet. I had written poems from an early age, even having one published in my school magazine. It was a typical teenage angst piece called ‘Waiting’, a litany of different types of waiting, ending with the line ‘waiting for death.’ Poetry has always been, for me, a way of bottling an experience or marking a moment, a way of holding my own history and engaging in a conversation with others and myself.
The decision to become a poet and dedicate the lion’s share of my time to writing is really the extension of this invitation to others to join in the conversation. Here is how I describe it in a poem called Visits to Laugharne at Fifteen and Fifty from Arriving in Magic,
‘Now in my dog eared years,
signed up late for pen to paper shovelling.’
Poetry writing is a solitary occupation and demands a fierce attention to the life you are living. I discovered the magic I speak of in Arriving In Magic in a poem of Goethe’s called the ‘Holy Longing’. He speaks of living like the butterfly, insane for the light and then gone, he goes on to say that if you haven’t experienced the reality of dying in order to grow then you are just ‘a troubled guest on the dark earth.’ I describe this magic in the title poem of my second collection as
‘the fierce embrace of all that makes up this life’s course.
Uttered bold in faith to the deep unsleeping witness of the dark.’
This is what I am about now, this fierce embrace, this willingness to tell the unvarnished truth, to expose my life to the air of public utterance knowing that this will bring healing to my wounds, add joy to my discoveries and invite others into the wonder and terror of our one short life. I do this ‘bold in the faith’ that there will be a resonance in those of you who happen to come across my work. This website is an invitation to draw you into the compass of my speaking and writing.
I live a small life in so many ways, I spend most of my time in Sheffield, with my wife Wilma and my grown up children Eva, Lara and Tom. The girls are mainly away studying in the fields of acting and directing in the theatre. Tom is still at home – studying film. Wilma is an artist and before you think we are some ethereal family and no earthly good, we also live by different forms of work, helping, caring, and listening work. We have seen our fair share of suffering around and in our own family. We are no strangers to hospitals and woundedness. We have been chaplains, social workers, community development consultants, mentors, spiritual directors. Now it is art and creativity that entices us and forms our main offer of service to those around us.
I have produced a short video which may help you understand what I am hoping will shape the next few years.