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  • Writer's pictureBelle Kenyon

Poets of the future: Karl Tearney

I am excited to say that I will be publishing the poetry of Karl Tearney in July 2019, who previously worked as a British Army helicopter pilot and now uses poetry as a therapy, raising awareness of mental health in the Army.

There has been a great deal of interest in Karl’s work thus far which includes a film made by David Gandy to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force.

He has also helped with a poetry session for students at RADA, been a panelist at the Hay literature festival, appeared on national and local television as well as radio. Then in November of this year his work was exhibited at the Art in the aftermath exhibition in Pall Mall.

A few words from Karl:

I am a latecomer to Poetry as I only found it after a breakdown at work. It was the summer of 2014 and suddenly as well as awkwardly I felt completely devoid of any emotions. I cried for days, weeks, months, and finally ended up as a resident of a Mental Health Hospital. That's when I began to write, initially as a journal but latterly as poems. I’ve since written a poem almost daily and it really helps me ground myself as well as communicate with the outside world.

Karl Tearney Poet

What inspires Karl?

I really cannot suggest that I have been inspired by a particular poet but I have always been fascinated by the great war poetry written during the first world way as well as Kipling’s poetry from the very early 20thcentury.

I’ve not had any training or qualifications in English language or literature but my time in the Army has helped a great deal in establishing mechanisms for communication and in particular when writing.

I guess I was inspired by my minds desire to try something new and to make use of my new found view of happenings around me. PTSD has its associated issues such as being hyper vigilant which can be a hindrance but when turned around it enables me to almost photograph mentally much more than before I fell ill. I now see and hear everything that goes on around me and tapping into that has enabled me to record events that prior to 2014 I would not have noticed.

Writing each day is my therapy and I embrace it like an addiction. It fascinates me to know what topic my mind will obsess about each morning. I simply adore writing and it’s my PTSD blessing as I’m convinced I would never have found it otherwise.

Who is Karl Tearney?

Karl was born in Cornwall and had a troubled childhood, which meant moving from home to home as a teenager. He had dreamt of becoming a pilot from a very young age but sadly events beyond his control had affected his schooling. His second ambition had been to join the Armed Forces and at 16 years old he enlisted as a boy soldier. After a few years of studying whilst soldering Karl applied to become a British Army helicopter pilot, which he achieved in early 1993.

His career continued happily until in 2014 the residue of over 30 years of military service overwhelmed him. He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in early 2015 then discharged in January of 2016.

Initially Karl sought out various types of therapy but each time they only caused a worsening of his condition. Amazingly Karl found his own therapy by accident when one day he’d decided to go for a walk and sat under a willow tree. The symbolism of that willow tree resonated with him and he sat and wrote his first ever poem aptly named “Willow Tree”

That was two years ago and he has now amassed over 650 poems covering a broad range of subjects including mental health. He encourages other sufferers of the condition to look into Art and Creativity in order to encourage self-fulfillment.

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