Stewart became interested in poetry after seeing a call for submissions for a new book on war poets. Two of his poems, ‘Confusion’ and ‘Life with a brain injury’, were selected, as was – to Stewart’s delight – his 9-year-old daughter’s ‘A child’s memory of war’. These were published in the book ‘Heroes: 100 Poems from the New Generation of War Poets’.
Stewart has had no training in poetry but finds the process invigorating. He enjoys the experience of articulating emotion in as clear and succinct a way as possible. He wishes he would write more poetry, but struggles to find time amongst his other activities. His brain injury restricts the amount of thinking he can do, and so he is forced to prioritise his work.
Stewart spoke at the poetry evening ‘Poetry and Soldiers’, chaired by Poetry Fellow Ruth Padel, in the King’s College London Chapel on 10 March 2016. At this moving event, six returned war soldiers (both male and female) read poems that mattered to both during active service and afterwards: their own and those written by others.
Stewart began writing a memoir in 2012, but stopped after a couple of chapters. It was too exhausting for his brain and too soon in his recovery. Although he had an agent for a year, Stewart was ultimately relieved that no publisher accepted his proposal. His was an ‘angry’ memoir, and was not reflective of the many positive experiences that have shaped his life since his injury.
Stewart is keen on rewriting the memoir, based on the inspirational lessons he has learnt during his recovery. He envisages it as partly autobiographical, partly instructive and partly self-help. One day…