'Resident bard' writing poetry

By ILONA HANNE

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"I can't say I enjoyed school much at all. I had asthma and was frequently absent as a result. I didn't enjoy my lessons really."

More than 80 years have passed since Douglas Chisholm attended school, and now the schoolboy who didn't enjoy his classwork is the 'resident bard' at Radius Heatherlea Rest Home in New Plymouth.

Douglas, whose poetry has previously been published in the Stratford Press, starting writing poetry in 1996 at the age of 78 when he was living in Napier.

"There was a heavy frost," he recalls, "and I had gone walkabout to a park just 15 minutes away. I couldn't get over the beauty of the winter that day and just had to find a way to record it, to express it in some way".

The result was a poem, entitled A Winter Meditation, which he still rates amongst his favourites from the many poems he has since composed. This first poem led to Douglas continuing to write, and on moving to Heatherlea he says he was encouraged to write even more.

"We have a poetry group here and some of us have worked together on a few projects."

He also took a creative writing course which focused on writing poems as well as stories, an opportunity he says he is glad was offered.

"It's taking those chances, those moments or opportunities to extend yourself, to explore your interests, which can lead you along an entirely new path."

Douglas, who has had two books published, says he doesn't have a set routine when it comes to writing.

"I write whenever inspiration strikes really."

That inspiration often comes from the world around him.

"It can be nature, or something linked to my Christian faith, or something we see or visit from Heatherlea. Inspiration is everywhere some days."

An idea for a poem or a short story may float around for a couple of days before Douglas puts pen to paper, but once he does he says he gets through it "quite quickly".

Despite the availability of technology around him - "I do have a computer I can use" - Douglas prefers the old fashioned method of pen and paper.

"Technology has a place, but we don't need to rush everything, taking your time is important."

His advice to other budding authors or poets is simple.

"Just do it. That's what I did and it worked out very well for me."

- Stratford Press

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