I usually write poems about my own private emotions and experiences, many aspects of which are, of course, universal. On reflection, a main theme is how people cope with what life throws at them, a theme that impressed powerfully on me as a young adult when reading traditional poetry, such as the Old English poem, The Seafarer, and Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale. I like the use of words to evoke feelings, thoughts and emotions. Also, I am transfixed by human stories of people battling with vicissitude.
This poem is different because it describes a tragedy of national significance, experienced not by myself but by others. In this poem, following their son’s manslaughter by medical incompetence, the parents battle to ensure this never happens to other children. Reasons for writing this poem were my sense of outrage that slipshod medical practices can cause such devastating loss and wreck families, but also, to memorialise the burden borne by the working class in this, who often don’t have the connections, security and resilience to cope well with tragedy. Despite this, they battle on heroically through our courts, sometimes winning battles that lead to a fairer and safer society.