13 May 2013
After reading at the University of York last October, I was asked whether I could write something about ‘coma’, and its aftermath, for a very fascinating conference to be held at Cardiff University. I think this came about because I had a collection published some time ago entitled ‘Coma Songs’ and also because the reading in York demonstrated that, like most poets, my writings often deal with issues of mortality.
Entitled the ‘Before I Die Festival: a festival for the living about dying', details can be found below. I’ll be reading my new poems, amongst others, this coming Saturday between 4pm and 6pm in a concert of music, poetry and song.
Like most commissions of substance the writing had many scary moments. One wants to say something ‘true’ and powerful but also show respect to those whose experience is more personal, more ‘real’ that one’s own as an imaginative writer.
Here is a sonnet from my collection, ‘Some Things Matter: 63 Sonnets’, which demonstrates my fascination, in the words of T.S. Eliot, with the 'skull beneath the skin'.
I asked a famous writer once what she
Wrote about. And she paused and took a breath,
Eschewing blandness she confounded me,
When her answer came as, ‘sex and death’.
And yes, artists deal with mortality
And the consequences of love and sex,
But in this stage of life, I seem to see
Time in everything, and its effects.
My life-span is long enough to measure,
The growth of the great trees, and how they’ve spread
In the churchyard where I pause at leisure,
To muse on the now, not so recent dead.
While love still flowers around the stones,
I see only a camouflage for bones.