The Hawthorns Care Centre, Peterlee, SR8 5UP: Tuesday 4th September 6pm-7.30pm
Few people can have worked so hard on behalf of literature and poetry in the north-east region as Gordon Hodgeon, or for so long. Gordon is a former chair of New Writing North, as well as having served as chair of the literature panel of Northern Arts, and vice-chair of Cleveland Arts, not to mention his work at NATE, Brotton Writers, the Writearound Festival, Hall Garth Writers, and Mudfog Press.
Following a series of unsuccessful spinal operations in 2010, Gordon was confined to bed and wheelchair, unable to move his arms and legs and unable to breathe without the help of a ventilator. Coming to terms with a gradually narrowing view on the world, he began writing a new book of poems. Some were dictated to visiting friends and to staff in the rehabilitation unit in Peterlee where he has spent the last two years. Others were typed using Dragon voice-recognition software.
A new collection, Still Life, is the result. It is partly a study in disability and mortality, partly a praise-song for the ‘paralysed jellyfish’ of the quadriplegic body. It is a book about learning to live in a new element, about helplessness and loss. But it is mostly a book about living, a wonderfully energetic and sharply humorous celebration of the fact of being alive – the birth of a granddaughter, the slow changing of the seasons through the hospital window and the strange music of the ventilator filling and emptying his lungs through the night.
Admission to this event is free. Still Life is available from www.smokestack-books.co.uk for £7.95.