The People Who Shaped My Writing: Poet Karl Tearney
Updated: Jul 25, 2020
As a newcomer to poetry and writing Karl has made quite an impact with his succinct and thought-provoking style. Encouraged by Emma Willis MBE after he’d sent her a thank you poem, Karl’s work has been coveted by many. His work has included appearances at festivals and readings around the country. He is hugely passionate about encouraging other sufferers of mental issues to look toward the Arts as a means of therapy.
He took part in the first Mayfair and St. James’s Literary Festival launched in November 2018, during which Karl performed his poem ‘War not War’, alongside Alicia Vikander and Felicity Kendall, as part of the Josephine Hart Poetry Hour - Poetry of the Great War in St. James’s Church London, as well as being invited to read this powerful, short work on BBC Radio 3 during Remembrance week.
BBC and Channel 4 News both covered Karl’s work shown at the ‘Art in the Aftermath’ exhibition in Pall Mall, London, featuring a wall covered in hundreds of his poems titled ‘The Writings on the Wall’. Response to his work and requests for a book were so overwhelming that he has decided to publish ‘Second Life’, an insight into the healing power of poetry produced with such urgency by this extraordinary man. Karl writes a poem almost every day and has written over 900 since he came to words as his healing.
Isabelle: Do you feel your work has been inspired by your influences in any way? To what extent do writers or people inspire your own stories?
Karl: I have no foundation in Poetry as my childhood had been largely affected by abuse and consequently my schooling suffered. My schooldays were simply a chance to recover from what was going on at home. As you can imagine, I lost my way with the world, and luckily I found solace not in poetry but in music, and especially lyrics. I guess for me it was about escaping to a paranormal life and one which was wrapped in love and care.
As my adult life arrived I was consumed with learning, as I wanted to become a pilot. I successfully gained my pilots wings and then travelled the world as an Army Helicopter pilot and my life became a whir of activity. Sadly, and very suddenly, I suffered a breakdown and ended my career in a mental hospital. During my stay I had plenty of time to myself, and that's when I discovered poetry. I spent time reading the works of Rudyard Kipling and perhaps that inspired me to write for myself.
Writing is now my foundation for recovery, as it enables me to record feelings much like Kipling did. I ought to also add that I didn’t ever write to share my feelings with the world, but that I had shared some of my work with friends, whom then suggested I ought to seek publishing.
I was lucky that I searched for an ethical publisher whom looks after writers like myself and Fly on the Wall appeared at the top of the list.
Whilst I still am very much an infant in the written word world, I do write every day and am approaching my 1000th poem, which I am immensely proud of.
I often visit my early scribblings and am commonly aghast at my own beginnings. Not always in a good way as my writing is very simple, almost too simple, but that’s what has become so very important. To understand that importance is to understand my readers. For I don’t feel I appeal to the established poetry set, and if I’m honest I don’t really wish to.
I find poetry has a certain snobbery and often those that hold the keys to the castle of poetry fame are very much sat on whatever gauge of railway that they’ve spent their life bobbing along on. Oh how I wish poetry experts would widen the rail line gauge, as the most common compliment I get for my work is that it’s what poetry should be...not stuffy.
I have no real inspiring poet nor poets that have shaped nor guided my writing and if pushed I’d declare more affinity to songwriting and songwriters. The fact that George Michael co-wrote the words for “Careless Whisper” on a train at 17 years of age is incredible. Or that Martin Gore wrote Depeche Modes “Somebody” in his teens again is the unbelievable yet incredible. George Michael writing on a train made me smile because I write on the train. My journeys by rail are incredible as you can not only write to the beat of the train noise but you can feel it in your bones. That harmony of mind, body, and soul are majestic for writing.
So it’s not always great swathes of words nor the respect of poetry gatekeepers that can inspire....more someone that can use the same energy as well as synergy when writing and appeals to everyone and not the niche!
Now that I’ve said that I can already feel the scorn arriving at my front door.
You can catch up with Karl by any of the following: