Matt Harris, Author & Poet
I became acquainted with Matt Harris over a year ago. After reading his book, Seeing Through Blindness, I was so impressed with the caliber of his writing that straightaway, I wrote a 5-star review of his book and sent him a link.
I’m so excited to feature him today in my Friday Friend’s column! So, let’s jump right into the questions.
1. Matt, your first three books are poetry. Your fourth is a memoir. Why did you change to a new genre of writing?
For years people kept telling me that I should write about my teenage years and young adult life. They believed it would have a positive impact on people’s lives. But I always resisted because, as a rule, I don’t write about myself. And I didn’t feel the Lord’s leading. But that all changed when I shared my story with a group of about 80 teenagers at a church one evening. I told them about my struggles with RP, drugs, and God- and how Jesus changed me after I received Him as my Savior on December 12, 1982. At the end of my talk, I shared a brief gospel message and twelve teens received Christ as their Savior. The next day I started writing Seeing Through Blindness.
2. Your memoir is written in an unusual style. Can you tell us more about it?
Seeing Through Blindness is a hybrid. It’s part memoir, part novel, part epic poetry. But my roots are in poetry. And that all started at age 34 when I had an opportunity to attend college for the first time. I wanted to become a counselor. My first class was an English course. When we started studying poetry, I knew that’s where the Lord wanted me to focus my attention. So I changed my major to English and started studying poetry.
Before I attended college, I had studied the King James Version of the Bible extensively for 12 years. And since much of the KJV is written in poetic language, unbeknownst to me at the time God was wiring my mind for poetry during that period of study.
3. What kind of research did you do for this book?
Seeing Through Blindness is autobiographical. So I didn’t need much research. Since the book was set in the 1970s and 1980s, however, I had to go back and research that time period to make sure I was getting my facts correct about what was happening during that time period. My first three books required much research because they were written about the Parables of Jesus and Biblical Prophecy. Most of my research came from Scripture. Seeing Through Blindness is very different from those works. On one hand, it tells about how wild I was in my youth and how undiagnosed RP tripped me up. On the other hand, it is my journey to Jesus. But I don’t think I could have written it without the discipline I had acquired from writing a 2,400-line pantoum for my third book: Leaves of Prophecy.
4. What’s a typical working day like for you?
I am a morning person, so I love to write in the morning. Minutes after I get up, I start the coffee and get busy. Right now, I write on my laptop which sits on a table in my room. My goal each day is to make progress. Progress for me isn’t always the number of words I type on the page. Some days I absorb a lot of information like a sponge. On those days, I might not get many words down. And that’s okay because I know the next day when I start squeezing that sponge the words will pour out on the page. I write slowly and methodically.
5. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Narrowing down the information and keeping it cohesive.
6. What is the best thing about being an author?
I love words and spending time with them. Being an author allows me to do that.
7. What are you working on now?
I am writing a book that follows the footsteps of Jesus from the Garden of Gethsemane, to His crucifixion, to His resurrection from the dead.
The narrator is a character I created called Night, which gives the book an edge. I’m writing it in the form of an epic poem.
It will be about 70 pages once completed. It’s tentatively titled The Long, Dark Night. I can’t wait to recite from it.
8. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Sit down and put the pen to the page. What I believe hinders writers the most, however, is the perception that we don’t have enough time to write. If you are truly meant to write, you will find time.
9. Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
My favorite book is the Bible. John Milton is one of my favorite authors. I love Paradise Lost and Samson Agonistes
I also appreciate the work of Edgar Allan Poe, particularly “The Raven.”
The Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison is another book I enjoyed. I definitely want to read more of her work. And, of course, Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith. I can’t remember who wrote that one, though. LOL
10. Okay, one last question. Why do you write?
Ultimately, I write to bring glory to Jesus and to spread His message of salvation.
Thanks for your time, Matt.
Okay, your turn. He’s ready to answer any questions you have for him so fire away! Also, which poets or authors do you enjoy reading? And do check out Matt’s book!
Matt Harris will be the first to tell you that he began seeing through blindness on December 12, 1982. On that day, he surrendered his life to His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Matt is now a poet, street evangelist, and author who lives in Pasadena, MD. He is also the proud father of two lovely teenage daughters.
At age 21, he was diagnosed with an incurable and progressive eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Several years ago, he learned that 60% of his hearing had also disappeared. None of these obstacles have deterred Matt. He’s written four books and is currently writing a fifth. He adapted his last book, Seeing Through Blindness, into a screenplay and has been busy trying to get it onto the big screen.
After Seeing Through Blindness was published, he started a ministry by the same name. Its main goal is to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Last year, his ministry distributed 13,000 gospel tracks by hand at book signings, and on street corners, and in parking lots. Last fall, Michael and Odessa Rose filmed a documentary about Matt and his work for their “This is Baltimore, Too” program. It aired several months ago on a local cable network in Maryland.
For more information about Matt’s work check out his website, where you can also get a free download of his screenplay, Seeing Through Blindness.
You have just read, Friday Friends: Spotlight on Matt Harris, Author. Copyright March 26, 2015.