He has lived a nomadic life in the North Wales Borderlands and South Yorkshire and is now happily settled with his Spanish family, Maria and Eva, teaching English as a foreign language on the Spanish Mediterranean coast.
This lifestyle and the memories and emotions experienced are reflected in the range of his short stories, digital photography and poetry collections, featuring inspiration from the multitude of environmentally and ethnically different locations where he has lived or felt `at home´ throughout a happy, contented and interesting life. He has had poems published in Poetry Cornwall (who published a collection of haiku in 2009 entitled Reflections), Poetry Scotland, Platinum Pages, and also by a Spanish haiku group of poets called El Rincon del Haiku, for whom he also translated their 2011calendar of haiku into English. He enjoys taking part in poetry open-mic nights and had a collection of photos and haikus exhibited in San Javier museum in 2010 in a well received exhibition entitled Same Eyes Different Sight, about how a foreigner views Spain and its culture and traditions.
Five Questions with David:
1. How long have you been writing poetry?
I have been writing poetry for about 15 years now, but it´s only since moving to Spain that I have joined a small poetry group and really started to perfect what I want to write about and how to lay the words down.
2. Who are your favourite poets? Which poets have most informed and inspired your work?
My list of favourite poets is long and varied, usually they are rebellious types who arent´t afraid to cause comment; by living poets I love anything by Simon Armitage, Ian McMillan, Roger McGough and Kathleen Jamie, and of the deceased I especially take time to read again and again the works of Ted Hughes, Phillip Larkin, WH Auden and my favourite favourite George Mackay Brown. I think no-one has ever come close to mastering descriptive verse like Brown could. I have learned from all of them, and I can certainly see a massive improvement in the quality of my poetry since I began to build up a small library of poetry books at home.
3. What do you hope to accomplish with your poetry?
I write poems because I find it relaxing and stimulating at the same time, and to see some scribbles take on a life of their own and end up as a finished piece of work is great. I get a big kick when I finally put down my pen and see something on paper that´s as good as I can get it. We meet as a group for workshops once a fortnight, and since I embarked on a poetry writing course two years ago I have spent far more time than before writing in my spare time. I try and take along at least two new pieces of work for comments by the others and now notice that I have to do far less revising than previously, all thanks to the generous help and constructive criticism I have received from others with a poetic eye. It´s also very pleasing to see my poems regularly published in the UK, most often by the respected and well-read Poetry Cornwall pamphlet magazine, as I have built up a good rapport with the editor and both he and the magazine´s readership seem to like my style. I especially enjoy writing poems for children. I am a teacher in a Spanish school and use poetry in my classes as a means of introducing topics. I have found that lots of young people do write poems, but keep them to themselves and don´t show their talents off.
4. What drew you to take an interest in the life of Arthur Wharton?
I used to live in south Yorkshire and was fascinated when I read an article by a local newspaper that did an article about the discovery of Arthur Wharton´s medals under a relative´s bed, and the subsequent help by, amongst others, the writers Phil Vasilly and Irvine Welsh, Football Unites, Racism Divided and the Professional Football Association to bring his fabulous life story to the attention of the general public. From there I started to follow up research and put together my poem, even going to the cemetery near Doncaster and seeing his grave. I got in touch with Phil Vassily and showed him a copy of the poem, as he´d written a book called The First Black Footballer: An Abscence of Memory. He wrote back with some very positive, encouraging comments. Arthur´s life took on so much more significance once I took the time to look at what extraordinary achievements he accomplished in the sporting field, and the disastrous consequences that occured in his private life as a result of him being `larger than life´ and daring to speak out and stand up for himself in the last century. I tried to write a shape poem in the form of a tree of his life.
5. This poem has been associated with Football Unites, Racism Divides. Can you tell us a bit about that organization, and how the poem is connected to it?
Football Unites, Racism Divides is based in Sheffield, within spitting distance of Sheffield United´s stadium. They have been functioning as a voluntary organisation for around 20 years now, working in the city, nationally and internationally. They have football coaches, educators and youth workers that help vulnerable young people, mostly African immigrants, deal with issues in their everday lives by means of football-related projects. On their website their is a section specifically about Arthur Wharton which features a number of poems about him, including mine.
I used to work for a Football in the Community project at Wrexham FC and when I did my dissertation at the University of Wales and I was able to visit Sheffield United. They were great with me and introduced me to FURD, and I found the staff there to be very committed, enthusiastic and full of ideas to help bring about racial harmony and togetherness in an industrial city with a melting pot of different nationalities and cultures. They seem to be succeeding as their unique work is nationally recognised.