Fragments, coming together

Cayman Brac-based author and photographer Martin Keeley launches his book of poetry and photos at Books & Books on Thursday, 14 April, at 7pm.

Fragments is a selection of around 50 poems that reflect Martin’s explorations, both internal and external, over the course of worldwide journeys following the sudden death of his wife.

“The hardest thing for me was that my wife and me were partners, deeply, spiritually, intellectually. When it happened it was like someone had chopped me in half. On the Brac I have fabulous friends and I love the community, but I had to find a way to make a decision what to do.”

So Martin decided to try and find a balance to his life and work; between writing and work with environmentalism, his job and his peace on the Brac.

The title itself is something of an exploration. Life is interesting, the author believes, in part because many people are unaware of its inherent shifts and changes, structurally and creatively.

“We would like to think that our lives are some sort of continuity, are contiguous, but I think in one sense they are made up of lots of different little fragments which come together sometimes, and sometimes they fall apart.

“The phases that I have been through, which are recorded here, are very much a part of who I am now. They are a mixture of my life before it happened and they are still there. Bits and pieces come together but that’s what lives are – made up of lots of different little fragments. We try to separate them, separate work and pleasure, home and kids and all that, but in actual fact it’s very hard to do that,” Martin reveals.

Evocations of stillness

The self-published book is a thoughtful and honest set of work that holds a great deal of hope and optimism. The photographs are quite simply stunning – no holiday snaps these, but evocations of the stillness and beauty of the world, at times kinetically charged reminders of the ever-present movement of life.

“I worked with a designer and artist called Sue Rose in Canada, one of my oldest and dearest friends… we picked the pictures and they do tend to reflect what is written. The photography was all done within the last two years.”

Over the years, Martin has worked within journalism, theatre, environmentalism and education and currently works as campus director at the Brac campus of University College of the Cayman Islands. And after years of not putting down his creative thoughts, there is no holding back these days, he says.

“Once I start writing, particularly poetry, once I have an idea it just flows. It’s a fabulous feeling.”

He’s also working on a children’s book about an urban guerilla cat which had its genesis some 30 years ago, plus, of course, more poems.

Join author Martin Keeley at Books & Books on Thursday, 14 April, at 7pm for the launch of Fragments. Admission is free.