My name is David C. Byrne and I am a teacher of ESOL to 16-18 year old refugee / asylum seekers here in Manchester . I've been teaching for about ten years and a lot of what I do obviously affects / effects my life and how I view it. I completed an MA in Creative Writing and have also stepped into the fray of performance poetry as there's a lot of exciting stuff going on in this exciting city. I believe very much in the philosophy if you want to then you can do, but you must always try. As a writer I have been involved with cross media projects that have involved ceramics, drawings and film. I also organised and co-ordinated ‘Mouthy' a performance poetry event for the Chorlton Arts Festival in May 08. I am currently involved with a film maker for a project about identity in the UK , especially for my students.
Those lives that sit in front of me everyday
that elbow rest and shy smile or fight fist over tongue
or long for house home but persist with gone gone
from me (but do not say)
they are peoples I loves but only tell with elbow rests at home,
with sigh and breath that only air knows and only language
can attempt to convey with idiom or euphemism or some
padded sophistication we call mother tongue
(but do not say).
Those lives are mountains and history you haul and trek
to see with digital or shutter speed, those lives of speck
and dust you sweep away from sanded feet from a sandled
holiday. Those lives are you and me.
But do not say they are rivers that dry and crack, once lifted
hand to mouth and drank, once washed a child, once laughed
and burst. Do not say they will go from me or grow old from me
those lives those peoples I loves.
I wrote ‘Countable noun' as a response to the many layered aspect of what I do as a teacher of amazing / scared / brave / lonely / intelligent / human
I consider myself to have an extremely unique and rewarding job where I am reminded daily about humanity and am fortunate enough to contribute to someone else's life. The poem deals with issues of the barriers that people put between themselves and the desire to break from them in the realisation that intrinsically we are all equal and not statistics that can be ticked or counted.
Barriers that also exist in language are something that I encounter everyday within my work and the poem attacks what barriers are seen as and what they are construed to be. Within my job it is often extremely apparent that no matter what there will always be ways in which to express and communicate. The poem also alludes to my own inadequacies of emotive expression, sometimes when the world confounds me, sometimes when attitudes and opinions of these people
are totally misconceived.
Of course one of the most satisfying aspects is the fact that I learn so much just by watching, by sharing four walls with these charismatic and determined
It is easy to forget the bliss of language when you go on that cheap holiday and expect English to be spoken or serving you food or tucking you in at night.
Finally I think the poem speaks through repeated or looped image and plays with sound throughout the piece. I hope to convey the cyclical nature of living and remind the reader that deep within the self there is recognition of warmth and love that prevails.
Some Thursday Muse 6 Manchester Metropolitan University quarterly 08
Picking Red : Lest we forget Forward Press anthology 07
Middle England : Foreword : Route Publications / www.route-online.com 07
Watching the fight : Succour Issue 4 The Obscene 06