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To Begin at the Beginning... / 17 October 2014

I am currently being mentored by John O’Donoghue to produce my first collection of poems, ‘Leaning on a Lamppost’.  I’m editing existing material and producing new work, and I’ll be blogging about the process.  It’s perhaps a surprise that I haven’t done any of this previously.

I’ve been a mentor (to Colin Hambrook, now Editor of DAO - so that went alright) but never been mentored myself.  I’ve been blogged about, but never blogged. 

And I’ve been performing my poems for the last thirty years, mainly but not entirely at Disability Arts events, everywhere from Newcastle on Tyne to Chichester, from Cheltenham to Norwich, been published in magazines and anthologies and online. Yet I’ve never had them published in book form.  

I’ve written books, of course, notably ‘Disabled We Stand’ (1981), which won awards here and in the US, and is still on academic reading lists as a classic radical text

That didn’t sell well enough to make it into a second edition, perhaps because in 1981 books editors didn’t have disability on their radar, so it didn’t get reviewed much, but over the years I’ve met a succession of people who’ve told me that my book changed their lives. That’s not a bad thing for a writer to have achieved.

I’ve written a fair bit for radio and television, ranging from children’s radio to EastEnders. That included ‘Inmates’, the first ever (and still, nearly 25 years on, pretty much the only) mainstream sitcom pilot commissioned by the BBC from a disabled writer for performance by disabled actors.

I also edited ‘Hidden Dragons: Writing by Disabled People in Wales’. I enjoy editing, and wish I’d had the chance to do more. I think I do it well. I have lots of experience copy-editing my own work, but I’ve come to realise that one thing I’ve gained from all that scriptwriting has been a good grasp of structure.

I’ve been a writer in residence, funded by Leverhulme, at the Center for Citizen Participation, Brunel University, which is where I produced ‘Neglected Voices’.

All that, and now I’m writing my first blog. Exciting, isn’t it?

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