Light-hearted verse ‘came from nowhere’

Geoff Bird with his book, Poetic Stuff and Nonsense S09103H14
Geoff Bird with his book, Poetic Stuff and Nonsense S09103H14

STEYNING poet Geoff Bird has turned nonsense into an art form.

The 69-year-old is publishing a book of ‘verses to brighten your day’ on Monday, having written more than 150 poems in the last 17 years.

Poetic Stuff and Nonsense will be launched at Steyning Bookshop on March 18, at an invitation-only event, and a special hardback edition will be auctioned by Rupert Toovey to raise money for Parkinson’s UK.

Mr Bird, of High Street, Steyning, began writing poetry soon after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1997.

“I woke up one morning and it was in my head, a poem about a hare called Dibble who liked to nibble. So having started with that one, I had to continue,” he explained.

The changing fortunes of Dibble are revealed in four of the 53 poems in the book.

Mr Bird said: “I wanted the title to reflect what I saw as the poems themselves, a bit mad but not entirely mad. But behind that it is amusing stuff and complete nonsense.

“We integrate more serious messages with the fun ones. I use animals to make a point and make it fun.”

Once he started the poems, he was writing prolifically, although the number has tailed off more recently.

His wife, Libby, said: “It seemed to sort of come from nowhere, as if there was a muse.

“At that point he wasn’t sleeping very well, so he was writing three a night. They would not even have to be altered, they would just flow out.”

She said Geoff had never been a great reader of poetry, so there had been no real influence behind the verses, but they had seemed to flow fairly easily.

Already, a number of copies of Poetic Stuff and Nonsense have been sold to Steyning Grammar School, for students to explore performing through writing, and Mr Bird will be going into the school to give a talk at some stage.

The poems will appeal to all ages and the aim is to entertain and put a smile on people’s faces.

Mr Bird said that since having Parkinson’s, he had been able to spot others with the disease.

“There are a whole host of symptoms people can suffer from but they don’t come in any sort of order,” he explained.

“Since I have had the disease, it has been much easier to spot people with the symptoms.

“There is an inevitability about it but I think keeping ones mind open and just basically living a normal life helps with sitting with it.”

Many of the people who have supported him along the way will be at the launch event.

“A few people who requested a poem have been asked to read it out as part of the evening, for example one about an Aga,” said Mr Bird.

There is another about a dog who managed to swallow a load of chocolate just before going to the Bird’s house for a party, and one about an obelisk in a garden.

Mr Bird added: “I take the view that if I have got something in my head to put down on paper then fine, but if I haven’t, then that is fine as well because something will be along in due course.”

Poetic Stuff and Nonsense is published by Pen Press Publication and the paperback is priced at £6.99. There is also an ebook version available.