John Morgan

John Morgan Dagesh

John Morgan LettersFromPlaces

“Dagesh” is a very inauthentic view of living with Alzheimer’s, as it’s impossible to know how a person is experiencing memory, time and communication. The dagesh–the dot within the three sided Hebrew character (בּ)–as an unpronounceable symbol in its own right, is said to be an initial punctuation mark, rather than a final one (from Attention: A Short History by Joshua Cohen, Notting Hill Editions, 2013). Here, it is a mark given before the end that suddenly impacts the ability to communicate in a sequence the person has always been familiar with. The brackets being the erasure of identity of self and others that is so heartbreaking to see. The colours are all from flowers in the gardens where my Mum is living.

“Letters from places that forgot to exist” is inspired by an old stamp album found on a bookshelf where my Mum is. It listed Heligoland as a British territory, which I knew nothing about. It was ceded back to Germany in 1890. The interesting fact is that Werner Heisenberg formulated the uncertainty principle there, which states that the more precisely the position of a particle is known, the less precisely its momentum is known. Again this is a play on the movement of words between lines and parentheses, with the extracted words now bigger than the space they came from, pulling the eyes and attention in different directions, to be repeated at the bottom of the page in what seems like the “right” (distorted, wave-like) sequence, but is not. But who could say what the right sequence is? There is no temporal or linear sequence in the memories of an Alzheimer’s person*, as past and present collapse in on each other in a blending of real and imaginary. The faded colours are all from stamps and faded, yellowed pages in the album, with the pink and dark green being the colours of Heligoland.

* “Alzheimer’s person”: I learned that wording from the nursing faculty at a research hospital in Bangkok where I taught writing for nursing science research to their MSc students in 1998-1999. They used the word “person” very deliberately for people with AIDS, to avoid any sense of making them the victim, or to encourage families and society to not lay the blame on them for their condition. We live in an age where we pity people with such conditions, but some of the reveries that Alzheimer’s people have are really quite remarkable.

John Morganis a visual intermedial poet, who spends many hours walking in the mountains of Wales and other places, such as Laos, where “Each Field an Instant Haiku” is set. Each walk writes the landscape, histories, mythologies and people of these places, or perhaps each of these writes the walk. His poems appear in a number of editions of a) glimpse) of) and also in Corbel Stone’s Reliquiae journal and online digital supplement (Vol. 4) and in the Learned Pig’s “Wolf Crossing” editorial. The majority of his landscape-based works are available at his own website, Visual [writ]/read/[/ing/]: