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The Poet, The Donkey and the Quandary

From Planet 213

Siôn Tomos Owen describes how his passion for politics was shaped by the course of the global recession and his experience of unemployment.

At the time of the 2010 UK elections, in the immediate aftermath of a recession, I was a poet. The manufacturing company I had worked at for almost two years went into administration and I was made redundant, after which I settled on ‘Poet’ rather than calling myself ‘unemployed’ or ‘between jobs’. If my sixteen-year-old artistically-minded self had seen me in my previous job, sitting in an office, studying tenders and punching numbers into a computer spreadsheet he would have sharpened his paint brush and committed harakiri. It wasn’t a job that I was particularly fond of but one that I learned a great deal from. I had mainly worked in shops, warehouses and building sites, and the replacement of site banter with office politics was an eye-opener, a fist-clencher and back-stabber. It was an average March morning when a stream of dark-suited men stormed into the office unannounced and told us to close everything down. After two days in administrative limbo I was freed from my desk job to explore other avenues of employment. As the weeks wore on, those avenues increasingly became marked with ‘No entry’ signs. The eminent Rhondda author, Gwyn Thomas, wrote that, ‘The beauty is in the walking – we are betrayed by destinations.’ How right he was about the months to follow. The destinations were definitely betraying me, but the walking...



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