Shield (MacTaggart Lecture)

When I’m not writing poetry, I’m also moving into writing for television – a world I’m realising just makes disabled people almost completely invisible – most of the time.

The MacTaggart Lecture is the keynote of the Edinburgh Film and Television International Show, and is delivered by a leading light of the industry. This year, it was read by Jack Thorne – screenwriter extraordinaire – exploring disability discrimination in the industry.

I met Jack Thorne through Crips Without Constraints (a monologue-writing series he introduced for Graeae, for which I wrote When We Got Sick). When he got in touch to ask about reading from Shield in the MacTaggart Lecture I was blown away – and even moreso to read the script and watch him eviscerate an industry out of love, and belief that it could improve.

The poem he read is the first in the book, and I’m reproducing it here. If you enjoyed it, you can buy the whole pamphlet (link)


i write an email to my GP telling him please
i love my life telling him please i want to be
the opposite of a Do Not Resuscitate order
the opposite of a patient you’d give a quiet death

o god let me die loudly let my ribs crack
i will arc with shock please i’d rather die
as i’ve lived as i’ve lived filled with love and
i’d rather die fierce as myself, every time

every bloody time. so i tell him what i do
wave my accomplishments my desperate
shield of fragile silk; i hide and tell him
i have value over and over and over

and over as if i wasn’t sat at the keys
crying silently and telling him this

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