Friday Friends

Spotlight on  

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.  

Matt Harris, Author and Poet
Matt Harris, Author and Poet

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 i€™s 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!  

BIO

Matt Harris, author and poet
Matt Harris, author and poet

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.

www.seeingthroughblindness.com

You have just read, Friday Friends: Spotlight on Matt Harris, Author. Copyright March 26, 2015. 

 

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25 thoughts on “Matt Harris, Author

  • March 27, 2015 at 11:22 am
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    I agree. Matt’s experiences as a young man will make excellent reading. He’s obviously used to writing, being a poet. Great interview and it’s good to see a positive aspect on blindness.

  • March 27, 2015 at 11:52 am
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    Enjoyed your interview! I think it’s wonderful that he is allowing God to lead him to use his life trials to help others. Thanks for sharing! #ultrablog

  • March 27, 2015 at 12:31 pm
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    Hi Francene,

    Thank you so much for stopping by and reading Amy’s blog. I appreciate your encouragement. If you get a chance to read “Seeing Through Blindness,” let me know what you think.

    Sincerely,

    Matt Harris 😉

  • March 27, 2015 at 1:41 pm
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    Amy, your feature on Matt is awesome. Your questions help readers see Matt as a person, writer, and inspiration. Great job.

  • March 27, 2015 at 8:07 pm
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    Thank you, Diane.
    Glad you enjoyed it. It was a fun interview.
    Now I have no excuses for not getting my writing done each day. If I really want to do it, I’ll find time like he said.
    Thanks for taking the time to read through the interview, Diane.
    Come back again!
    Amy

  • March 27, 2015 at 8:09 pm
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    Thank you so much for your comment, Odessa!
    Matt sent me a copy of the television documentary for “This is Maryland, Too” and I’m looking forward to watching it.
    Come back and check out my blog again!
    Amy

  • March 27, 2015 at 8:12 pm
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    Hi Francene,
    Thanks for picking up those key elements about Matt. He is a very disciplined writer, like you say. It’s motivating to learn how much he accomplishes. I need to follow suit and get down to work!
    Hope you are well. Take care!
    Amy

  • March 28, 2015 at 2:18 am
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    This is a great interview, Amy! Well, all except the part about loving The Raven. I’m certain my lack of love for that particular poem probably makes me sound like a terrible English teacher, but I just didn’t fall in love with it in high school like the rest of world. 🙂

  • March 28, 2015 at 3:05 am
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    Ha ha! Carrie, Matt seems to be a die-hard Poe fan. I think it’s all that symbolism and something about the Baltimore Ravens (baseball team). Somewhere along the way, I think he posted a photograph of him touring Poe’s grave. 🙂
    He’s very industrious with his writing. I guess that’s how he finished four books already. I was impressed when I learned he began to write Seeing Through Blindness the day after he had that talk with the students. He doesn’t waste time!
    Amy

  • March 28, 2015 at 12:30 pm
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    Hi Carrie,

    Thanks for reading Amy’s blog. I appreciate her featuring my work this week. I live near Baltimore. And in this area, most of the population bleeds purple because of the Baltimore Raven’s football team, which took its namesake from Poe’s poem. And of course, Poe lived here for a while and died mysteriously. Ironically, the college I just applied to, University of Baltimore, has a Poe statue in its courtyard. Because I’m visually impaired, I always use one launch point when I begin to navigate a large area. His statue will be my launching point. LOL

    And, no, your lack of love for The Raven doesn’t make you sound like a terrible English teacher at all. But as I sit “upon a midnight dreary, while pondering weak and weary,” one ominious question your lack of love for The Raven doth raise:

    Are you a Pittsburgh Steeler’s fan, Carrie Ann? LOL

    Loved Your Website,

    Matt Harris

  • March 28, 2015 at 1:19 pm
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    Reading about somebody like Matt–who has turned his disabilities into positives–is such an encouragement! He has overcome and has been very productive. Great interview, Amy, and blessings on both you and Matt!

  • March 28, 2015 at 2:02 pm
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    I’ve never heard of Matt’s books before, but now I’m intrigued!

  • March 28, 2015 at 9:57 pm
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    Thanks so much for sharing Matt’s story. I always enjoy reading the blog posts and stories from others who aren’t ashamed to talk about God or their relationship with Him.

    I do have a question, and pardon my ignorance here – but for you and Matt, and others who have varying degrees of vision impairments – how do you write? Do you use programs or apps that use speech recognition, so you can produce your written works by speaking?

  • March 28, 2015 at 11:56 pm
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    Doing what you love, that is my goal, too. Nothing should hold us back from doing what we love to do and exercising the talents we have been given by our Creator. I am not a strong poetry person – I like a variety of literature, from some Young Adult to various non fiction. But I always enjoy a good memoir – there is no story as riveting as a true story of someone’s life.

  • March 29, 2015 at 12:11 am
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    Hi Amy,

    Your interview with Matt, was wonderful! He is such a faithful servant. Seeing first hand how God has changed my brother through the years is such a blessing and encouragement. He has been through so much, but that does not stop him from telling others about Jesus, and encouraging them through their trials. I am looking forward to reading more books from both of you. Thank You!

  • March 29, 2015 at 2:30 pm
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    Thank you, Amy.
    I think what you said goes for everyone. Whether it’s an impairment or a challenge whatever the type, turning it into a positive through God’s help is an encouragement. He is so productive! It makes me realize I need to look again at my time and see how to be more productive!
    Thanks for taking time to read my post, Amy.
    Amy

  • March 29, 2015 at 2:33 pm
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    Hi Amalia,
    His memoir is fast-reading and very unusual.
    I’d recommend you look at it. 🙂
    Thank you for taking time to read our interview!
    Amy

  • March 29, 2015 at 2:39 pm
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    Good morning, K Lee.
    You’re very welcome. Glad you liked the interview.
    That’s a great question! I’ll let Matt speak for himself because his vision acuity is a little different from mine. With RP, peripheral (side) vision is affected first. I still have all right central vision in my right eye so I can see close up. To read and write, I use the Control + key on Word, and enlarge it 3 or 4 times. Later, I will have to turn to apps and other devices.
    Thank you for your question and visiting today! Come on back!
    Amy

  • March 29, 2015 at 2:46 pm
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    Good morning, Alana.
    I agree with what you said about memoir! It’s true. Well-written memoirs can be riveting. Whenever I traveled from the Middle East, I always purchased 3 or 4 books at the airport to read on the trip home and during my vacation. I liked the memoir from international personalities and seeing how they overcame their challenges! Or how they got to be where they were in life!
    I also read that a well-written memoir is powerful and people are drawn to it. It’s my favorite genre.
    Thanks, Alana!
    Amy

  • March 29, 2015 at 2:49 pm
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    Good morning, Cindy!
    Thank you for that positive feedback.
    I’m sure that seeing the positive changes come over Matt has been exciting! Even in the short time I’ve known him, I can see how strong a servant’s heart he has and how he turns to God in coping with his losses.
    So glad to see your comment here. Keep reading and thank you for following me!
    Amy

  • March 29, 2015 at 6:48 pm
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    Hi K. Lee,

    Great question! I was trained through the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DORS) to use a software on my computer called ZoomText. It allows me to enlarge the print. Since I also have problems with contrast and sensitivity to brightness, ZoomText also has a feature that allows me to darken the background and lighten the text. This is great for writing and for reading. Pictures, however, look like x-rays or negatives. But it’s a good trade off. When it’s absolutely necessary for me to see an image, I will put the Zoomtext back to normal to view it. As I’ve lost sight over the years, I’ve had to adapt different strategies to keep writing. For now, this works. For how long? God only knows.

    I enjoyed reading your blog!

    Matt Harris

  • April 2, 2015 at 12:38 am
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    I first discovered Poe and The Raven when I was still a child and not very knowledgeable about literature, but I did watch The Simpsons.
    🙂
    Their first Halloween episode had a segment where the poem was read and I was instantly hooked.
    Since then I have found Poe to be one of the most erie writers, the mood he created with all he wrote, and the circumstances of his life. It certainly does seem like an interesting story, the life he lived. So mysterious, but maybe that’s just my literary mind working overtime.

  • April 2, 2015 at 2:13 am
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    Hi Kerry,
    Ha ha! Love the way you were introduced to Edgar Allen Poe. Great story! 🙂
    I think it was in seventh grade that I read The Tell-Tale Heart and it was so scary!
    I, too, was hooked!
    Amy

  • April 2, 2015 at 4:06 pm
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    Hi Kerry,

    In regard to Poe, my “literary mind works overtime,” too. The Raven hooked me with its talons when I was a teenager. Since I’m from the Baltimore area, Poe has a special place on my bookshelf, or I should say Kindle shelf nowadays. The sound Poe uses in The Raven is like background music in a horror film. That sound had an influence on my writing when I wrote my third book: “Leaves of Prophecy,” which is a 2,400-line pantoum.

    Blessings,
    Matt Harris

  • April 2, 2015 at 5:32 pm
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    Brrrr! “The raven hooked me with its talons…” I have to go back and listen to the sounds you’re referring to, Matt! Watch out, both of you….for whatever lurks in your path. Yikes! Let’s hope it isn’t a raven!
    Amy

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