I Spy With my Little Eye ...Something beginning with a Poet
I've mentioned before that searching for ‘blind contemporary poet’ on Google generates results such as Homer, Milton and The Blind Poet Pub in Edinburgh, but very few currently living poets who are devoid of sight. And then you metaphorically bump into one, or rather one bumps into you, out of the blue!
I received an email through this blog the other day, from somebody who had heard a broadcast on the RNIB's radio station, where another blind poet, Dave Steele and I talk to each other about our blindness and poetry.
The City of Coincidences
In blog post 49, Crazy Encounters of the Poetic Kind, I revealed I had crossed paths with the poet Clare Potter. Clare and I had been at Swansea university at the same time, circulated in the same group of Welsh-speaking friends, and neither of us had any idea the other wrote poetry!
The email I received the other day was from a man called Kevin Morris. He too is blind and he too is a poet! In the RNIB radio show I read a poem called colours, which has been updated since that radio show, and I posted its almost-final version in blog post 80, Poetic Partings. Kevin told me this about himself:
I was particularly moved by your poem on how blind people perceive/feel colours. I lost the majority of my vision at about 18-months-old as a result of a blood clot on the brain. I’m originally from Liverpool but having studied history and politics at University College of Swansea I moved to London in 1994 where I now live and work.
I began writing poetry in 2012 and have a blog at newauthoronline.com where many of my poems can be found.
That prompted me to ask Kevin whether he'd moved to London himmediately after completing his studies at Swansea University, which he had. That means he and I, and Clare Potter, were all at Swansea University at exactly the same time!
At the time Kevin was at Swansea University, his guide dog was called Nixon, and I do indeed remember seeing Kevin and Nixon in the JCR — the Junior Common Room — bar. I don't think I actually talked to Kevin, though I might have given Nixon a pat.
Now that I too am a blind person, I know that is not the right thing to do. Sighted people who would like to pat a guide dog should ask the person with the guide dog if they mind them patting the guide dog. It is not good to distract a guide dog when it is wearing its harness, which means it is working, but often the owner will give permission if it is a safe situation to do so — such as in a coffee shop or at the bar in a pub.
Ever Decreasing Coincidences
Although I didn't leave Swansea for quite a while after my degree, my destination when I did was also London. I moved from a job at the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to take up a post in Local Transport Policy at the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), shortly after renamed Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR), now masquerading as the Department for Transport (DfT). All these coincidences are enough to blow my socks off! Kevin too joined the Civil Service in London:
I now work for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which was, as you probably know previously known as DTI then BIS. When MAFF ceased to exist my bit of it was absorbed into DEFRA. Then, when the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was formed I became part of that Department. When Mrs May replaced David Cameron she merged DECC with BIS to form the new BEIS and I'm now part of BEIS.
I tell you where I want to work ... the Department of Acronyms (DOA) ... I might write a poem about that ;)
That which matters Most
Let me close by sharing a couple of Kevin Morris’s poems, first is this one, ‘The Writer’s Pen’, read by him on YouTube, and I love it. And then this one, which is from his collection My Old Clock that I Wind, which is available in print and eBook formats.
“My Old Clock I Wind” is a collection of 74 new and original poems by Kevin Morris. It contains both melancholy and more cheerful pieces contrasting the fact that We can enjoy life but at the same time cannot escape its inevitable end.
Shall we speak as though we will go on forever?
I saw a feather
Borne on a summer’s breeze.
It did please
Dance on the balmy air.
The breeze became a gale,
Then came the hail.
Was by the tempest tossed
In that passing storm.
The estate agent’s lights fade.
I wander home,
Thinking on other temporary things.
(Feather, by Kevin Morris)