In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

Poems for United Response


United Response is a registered charity which supports people who have disabilities. It aims to help them fulfill themselves and be less isolated in our community. It seeks to ensure they receive their basic human rights.

In mentioning this particular organisation here, I am not seeking to advertise it at the possible expense of others in the same field, all of them forced to compete with one another by the policies of successive UK governments in thrall to a fundamentalist belief that the market and market principles belong in all activities, all parts of our Society. United Response is just one of many good organisations seeking to strengthen the bindings of our community. It is my view that competition in this field is a waste of good energy and irrelevant to excellence. All of such organisations need to flourish.

I just happen to have come upon this one, after crossing a bridge one day. It is responsible for various highly imaginative ideas including an online periodical called Easy News and another called Postcards from the Edges. It campaigns for Every Vote Counts, an initiative designed to make politics accessible to all, particularly people with learning disabilities, most of whom are entitled to vote.

Getting to know United Response, I have found that there is often and already a fair amount of poetry in its veins, but it pleases me to think that I might be able to add some more.

So I’m contributing poems to its monthly Postcards from the Edges online bulletin and also, more recently, to its bulletin for staff.

Here below are the latest, one for each bulletin.

The first is by one of the people supported by United Response. I saw Luke’s piece at an exhibition of the some of the postcards.

The second comes from a series of poems I wrote some years ago, called “I Hyphen Thou.” The series borrows the hyphen idea from a book by Martin Buber called “I and Thou.” The hyphen connects people. It is precarious but also precious ground. We need to defend and look after it. Without it we are nothing.

Clicking on the titles will link you to the pdf versions, which can be downloaded.


Stig’s Helmet

My favourite TV
programme is Top Gear.
The Stig has a talent
but hides behind his helmet.
I have lots of talents
but do not hide
behind my autism.


from Hyphen Loitering (with intent)

…I believe today I almost met someone.
For just a few moments, possibly,
the whirring edge of me
disturbed some surface of attention.

Perhaps in time I’ll risk being still enough
actually to meet a whole person.
I wonder would either of us survive
the awe and enormity of true encounter.

I loiter here between lines of thunder
poised for that sudden break
that momentary opening
my own hushed moment of interruption….

Rogan Wolf