23rd June 2022
Tim Shanks' powerful poem about learning to accept his stammer.
War and peace
By Tim Shanks
I was a child soldier when I enlisted in the war
In terror of my stammered words
Those broken sounds wounded me
It was painful for them to pass my lips
With my dysfluent speech
I was scared to go 'over the top'
Across the dangers of fluent man's land
Into the battlefield of life
I fought the battle for fluency for over half a century
With the therapeutic weapons of mass destruction —
Slowed speech, block modification and avoidance reduction
But my stammered words refused to surrender
I thought my careless stammered talk
Would cost me my life
But it only rendered my feelings comatose
when I really wanted to be more bellicose
I was scared of my stammered talking that I didn't want to hear
So I attacked, captured and incarcerated it
My stammers were now silent prisoners of war in my mind
— from where they imprisoned me all my life
I became a stammerer who does not stammer
An imposter with a lot to hide
However my stammers continued their covert operations
An underground resistance that continued to sabotage my peace of mind
I have now recognised the miscarriage of justice
My stammered words were always innocent
They died imprisoned inside me and
Gave me an 'interiority' complex
I have learned to communicate more by writing
I have wanted my words to have the right to be heard
My thoughts and feelings have managed a great escape…
There is no stammer in a written word
If I had my time again I would want to be friends
With my stammered words and feelings
They would not be enemies in my life
I would not be at war with my words
I would be a pacifist regarding stammering
And conscientiously object to fighting for fluency
I would be a deserter and face the firing squad
A stammering war poet who found peace.
Tim has also written articles for Your Voice about his long journey towards stammering acceptance:
'I have stopped trying to be perfect'
'Say no to fluentism'
Do you have a poem about stammering you'd like to share? Or would you like to write about your experiences? Email email@example.com or visit our Share Your Story page for details.