‘Parkinson’s made me into a poet’

JPCT 250314 Poet Geoff Bird.has written a book. Photo by Derek Martin PPP-140325-083712003
JPCT 250314 Poet Geoff Bird.has written a book. Photo by Derek Martin PPP-140325-083712003

A Parkinson’s sufferer has published a book of poetry after discovering a talent for writing following his diagnosis of the disease.

Steyning resident Geoff Bird has never had an interest in creative writing; his last flirtation with poetry was at school, but after doctors told him he had Parkinson’s in 1997, the 69-year-old extraordinarily developed a flair for the written word.

“People who have Parkinson’s sometimes develop particular talents in areas that are unfamiliar, so you get people who suddenly are more musical, or paint, or in my case use poetry. I would say before I had Parkinson’s I didn’t see myself as a writer.”

His new anthology ‘Poetic Stuff and Nonsense’, published by Pen Press Publications, contains more than 50 verses, filled with colourful characters, humorous circumstances and serious undertones.

From an ewe that falls in love with a Tesco trolly, to a knitted long jumper that has aspiration to become an Olympic long jumper, Geoff’s poems are not just a play on words, but if dissected different layers of understanding can be found.

Geoff’s wife Libby said that a lot of the poems are humour but some are introspective.

Entries like ‘Me-anders’ delve into existential issues and ‘Internal Dialogue’ deals with confrontation.

“I would get up at 3am and write two or three poems which would be in a reasonable state by breakfast time,” said Geoff. “The first poem I wrote was about a hare named Dibble - now that sounds a bit strange, and I don’t know where Dibble came from, but he certainly had an impact because for the first few poems that I wrote he was my main character.”

Previously a manager development consultant, Geoff’s career took him to more than 15 countries across the globe, but now retired he has found a new calling in life from his Steyning home.

“My poetry isn’t specifically aimed at Parkinson’s, but is a result of my Parkinson’s.

“I’m very pleased to say that I haven’t had anything other than very positive feedback.”

Geoff’s nephew Simon Bird, of The In-Betweeners’ fame, said the books is ‘warm, witty, weird and wonderful’.

On March 18, the book was launched at a ceremony held at Steyning Book Shop where Rupert Toovey of Toovey’s Auctioneers in Washington flogged a special edition hardback for £160, which was donated to Parkinson’s UK.

Now, Geoff and Libby have lost track of the total number of sales, but copious copies have been bought at events, book shops, online and even by Steyning Grammar School.

Loved by children and adults alike, some of the poems are accompanied by illustrations drawn by Geoff.

Now available on Amazon, Waterstones and in various local book shops, Geoff said he would like to publish another book of poetry, but it will depend on the sales of his debut.

“Poetry is not the easiest written form to market, but if this goes down well then I might consider that.”

‘Poetic Stuff and Nonsense’ is out now and available from Amazon and www.poeticstuffandnonsense.co.uk