Disability no obstacle for poet and ex-Judo fighter Owen Lowery

Poet Owen Lowery
Poet Owen Lowery

A former British judo champion who became a successful poet after suffering spine damage that left him paralysed will share his inspirational story as part of the Bounce! arts festival at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre this week.

Reading-born writer Owen Lowery is just one creative participating in the celebration of disabled and deaf artists organised by the ADF charity.

Owen was a judo champion when he damaged his spine during a charity tournament in St Helens that left him paralysed from the shoulders down.

Though his sporting dreams were destroyed, Owen triumphed over his situation after two years in high dependency wards by dedicating himself to academic study and creative writing.

As well as achieving a first class degree and embarking on doctoral study on the work of Keith Douglas, he has published two collections of poetry - Otherwise Unchanged and Rego Retold.

Owen will read from his work at the Lyric Theatre on September 5.

“I was a multiple British judo champion and a potential candidate for the British Olympic team but the accident shattered a lot of my dreams, as well as meaning that I had to spend two years in the intensive care in Southport,” said Owen.

“Following the accident I moved into a bungalow with my parents and began to re-build my life.”

Using a specially adapted computer, Owen began writing poetry avidly, using the medium to explore his changed vantage point on the world.

His first collection, Otherwise Unchanged, was published by Carcanet Press in 2012 to critical acclaim, and in January his new collection, Rego Retold was released, featuring 50 of his poems alongside pictures by Turner Prize nominee Dame Paula Rego.

He joins a host of other disabled and deaf artists gathering for the Bounce! arts line-up which takes place from today (September 3) until September 6.

For more information on the Bounce! arts festival visit the Arts and Disability Forum website at www.adf.ie.