Peter’s on a ‘Mystical Path’
AN 83-year-old Malahide man has just published his first book of poetry, written in the face of adversity and heartache, in what has been a very difficult and dark period of his life.
Peter Owens, from Seabury in Malahide, was carer to his wife of 54 years, Vera, until recently, dedicating himself entirely to her care. Vera’s health deteriorated about 26 years ago, when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and again in recent years, when she developed a form of dementia.
Since 2016, Vera has stayed in a nursing home, despite Peter’s best wishes.
Speaking to The Fingal Independent, Peter talks about his book, ‘Mystical Path with Poetry’, how he came to write, and how poetry turned his life around.
He explained: ‘I wrote my first poem about 24 years ago, so really, I only started when I was in my late fifties. I started thinking there must be more to life than all this and I just started writing, to get my thoughts onto paper.
‘I had started meditation before that, and it was through the meditation that I began to do creative things, so the poetry really came from that. A lot of people would say that creativity comes with meditation; for me, it came about four or five years later, when I got the urge to write things down.’
It was through Peter’s meditation group that he received the encouragement to pursue the idea of publishing a book. At the group’s request he would read poetry to the group after sessions, which was always received well.
Peter said: ‘The rest of the group really got to like the poems, and one day said why not put all of this into a book. It was wonderful, because it was kind of a community effort to persuade me to go and do the thing. Two of the ladies helped me, and an artist did the illustrations.’
Peter has lived in Malahide, ‘about 30 years’, he says, in Seabury near the Sacred Heart Church. Since his wife went into care, he has lived there on his own, but visits her ‘every second day’. Malahide itself has been a source of inspiration, featuring in ‘Mystical Path with Poetry’, as he explained: ‘One of the poems I like best in the book came from one day when I was walking in a park in Malahide. I was looking for a few short poems for the book, and I asked the Lord for inspiration. By the time I got up to the castle, I had all of these thoughts coming into my head, and started writing them down, then I went home and put it all together and an hour and a half later, the poem was finished. Malahide is always an inspiration; one of my favourite poems would be one called ‘A Walk in Malahide’, which I’m very fond of.’
A Mystical Path With Poetry was launched recently in the Malahide Parish Centre, which Peter says got a very good reception. He makes special mention of Darragh O’brien TD, whom he says seemed to have taken time to read the poems before giving his introduction.
Given Peter’s experiences, both in life and in writing, what advice would he give to young aspiring writers?
He said: ‘When I first started writing poetry I didn’t go to a class and learn how to write, I just started writing, I used to know if a poem read well, or the next morning I might say, ‘oh that was rubbish’, and throw it in the bin, but if you’re a writer, you know if something sounds good.
‘Writing doesn’t come from the brain; if you start intellectualising it, you end up with just rhymes.
‘Sometimes you get a gut feeling and suddenly the whole thing comes together,’
Peter Owens signing the book of poetry he has published at the age of 83.