In his own words, he shares his thoughts on this moving collection:
It was the day before Christmas and I was sitting in the hospital. How I got there was hardly a mystery. What to do next was another matter. Oddly enough, I felt calmer than I had been all day. I had spent my fear on writing all morning, composing a poem almost twenty-nine pages long. A few pages would be cut before sunset. Then the dull aching would return. Brain surgery was a bitch afterall- Tumors are tumors in the end.
The words, “I will show you fear in a hand full of dust,” often came to me. These were from T.S Elliot’s ‘The Wasteland’- A poem that had spurred me to compose my own lament months earlier. Now I was back at the computer writing- writing as fast as I could, in case I ran out of time. At one point, I was certain I was running out of time. The instant I stepped out of the hospital, I wanted to collapse. My inability to do anything troubled me. Despite my blindness, I have always been an active person. I love to hike. I love to swim. I love to write, and I particularly love to dream wondrous dreams. But the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” had cast me in the role of Hamlet. Every day- every moment- felt like a continual tragedy- unfolding from the first act to the last. Nevertheless, I refused to renounce my little project. Each morning I would add another hundred lines to my latest poem. Then I would start cutting the manuscript down. Eventually, the poem began to take shape and I felt ready to face the trials ahead. Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come, or for the nightmares fate would incur. But no matter how hard things got, I remembered my poem and the joy it had brought to my friends and family. For it was more than a poem- It was a confession of love and defiance. As Dylan Thomas so eloquently said, I would not “Go gentle into that good night.” I would stand against the “dying of the light.” The facts of my case were this.
Around November of that long, long year, I endured an M.R.I for a drooping eye-lid. Why my eyelid was drooping remains an enigma. To this day, no one knows whether it was connected to the tumor or not, although it is unlikely that it was. However, a tumor was clearly visible, along with a blood vessel that was wrongly believed to be an aneurism. After undergoing an angiogram, it became clear that I didn’t have an aneurism. Yet the tumor remained and had to be dealt with. Surgery would commence in June. Yet many alternative months and dates had been painstakingly explored prier to the ordeal, along with the publication of two new books- The Late Emperor of the Sky, and A Land Between the Woods- not to mention their parent volume, “Adam’s Lament.” This allowed a great deal of time for me to grasp the magnitude of my position. I had been told since I was six that I had lost my eye sight to Optic Nerve Atrophy. Yet no one could say why this atrophy had taken place. It was believed that I had potentially lost my vision due to a rare genetic mutation. Yet as there are no other medical problems ascribed to my condition, this made my case rather unusual. What we didn’t know was that there was a brain tumor growing in my head, pressing against my optic nerves. The only M.R.I I took as a child was blurry, at best. Because I was placed in a genetic category, no other scans were deemed necessary. So for over a decade, I tackled my life under the false belief that my vision would remain the same until my death. Yet upon discovering the tumor, new and unforeseen troubles began to loom. If the tumor was removed from the nerves, I might lose my ability to tell light from darkness. I might literally experience Dylan Thomas’s “Dying of the light” and be resigned to a life of pure blackness. The thought of dwelling in shadow plagued me sorely. My remaining light was, and still is, precious to me. It helps me travel. It helps me distinguish day from night, and it is also comforting. In short, it is the last remnant of a dream I cling to every time I sit down to compose a fresh poem.
Faced with these concerns, I braced myself for the worst and set out to write the greatest poem of my youth. I spent my twenty-first birthday on April 21 composing much of this piece. I drew upon every source I could get my hands on. I had a vision. I had to unleash my verse before it was too late- My mind was made up. I would “take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.” Yet the pen would be my immortal sword. The page would be my refuge.
But where to begin? I was unwilling to make the poem obviously autobiographical. Precise references to my state cannot be found in the piece. Instead, I set out to express my sufferings in the eternal struggles of man. The allegory of the cross quickly became a good starting point. We all have to face our own Calvary at one point in our lives. Sooner or later, we are nailed to a sable tree. It is how we face this Golgatha that matters. We have the ability to break the tide. We all can be heroes. Yet few of us have the courage to face the night and embrace the arms of woe. While I am far from an exemplar of this method, I have clung to my courage the best I can. I pray it has been enough. I hope that my readers may find some inklings of hope in my ordeal. Maybe then, it will have some meaning.
I am glad to inform my readers that my surgery went well and that I am fully recovered. I am actively writing again and have finished writing four new books of verse- One will find in every one echoes of Good Friday. This is partly due to the underlying fact that Good Friday represents an enormous transition in my work. Before I wrote my epic poem, I was a man who dreamed up a world of war. After completing the poem, it is as though I have seen combat. Through this experience, it is my mission to spend my days defending love and observing peace. For without either, I doubt I would be writing here today.
John Evans did another moving video interview on this ebook at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Kk8rVbvfa4
‘Good Friday’ is available in the Oloris Bookshop at: http://olorisbookshop.com/collections/ebooks/products/good-friday-other-works