My congratulations to Vincent O’Shea and Conor Nolan of Waterford City Council for funding, with the Peter Bradley Foundation (Acquired Brain Injury Services), a beautiful small collection of poetry, Thinking Past Yourself, that was launched in Waterford last week. Poetry should make you stop and think, and in this book I was impressed, touched, saddened, angered and soothed by the creative work of eight people (all males) who have ABI (Acquired Brain Injury).
One of these poets, Owen Griffin, who lives in the Waterford Peter Bradley Residence, brings into sharp and painful focus in Is That All There Is? How we can judge or misjudge people we consider different to ourselves.
Don’t tell me I’m different for I’ll always be the same
Don’t even try to judge me; you don’t even know my name.
The Foundation was established in 2000 to provide a range of pioneering, flexible and tailor-made services to people with ABI. Rehabilitation and clinical support are key aspects of the service.
This book is the inspiration of Owen Griffin and he wants to have this book distributed in hospitals, rehabilitation and community services throughout the country, but the strength and creative impact of the work deserves a larger audience.
Other images from Owen Griffin will catch your eye – Time is a laugh when you look at it . . . Time tells tales of hurt and fear/ Of people that are no longer here. In – And They Call This Freedom, he cuts to the heart:
They don’t know us
Freak of nature
Freak of kind
Stop the madness
So we can find
That if we don’t live
As we are
Then in this life
We won’t get far
For hearts of joy
Are hearts of pain
And treasures kept there
Will drive you insane.
Chris O’Brien is another Waterford resident. He writes in Never Imagine Finding about losing money:
I need to be careful
On what I wear
It always slips out.
Residents in these homes refer to themselves as the Jovial Bunch and Derek Crilly from Drogheda writes in A Hurler’s Prayer:
Alone I stand on a hurler’s field
Derek Crilly is the name,
And the other fourteen are
Useless, bootless, feckless,
But I have to stick with them
There is other fine work by Dermot O’Driscoll, Muiris Killeen, Sam Fleming, Shane Hayes and the sadly deceased Patrick Kevin Pierce whose last line in floating is:
I shall have to live with what I have.