By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
PASADENA, Md.—Matt Harris, a member of Grace Church of Sunset Beach in Pasadena, MD, writes poetry about the parables of Christ and Old Testament prophecies. He wrote his first book of poetry, “Poems on Some Parables of Christ,” published in 2007. His most recent book, “Sonnets For Messiah,” was released in May. Harris enjoys the sound of verse and the colorful rich images of words. But he can’t see them. Harris is legally blind. He walks with a cane, guided by his wife, Pam.
Harris has Retinitis Pigmentosa, a progressive eye disease affecting the retina that gradually reduces the peripheral vision.
“At 11-years-old I had problems seeing pop-ups and line drives when I played baseball in little league. Then I started running into things. But at that time I had 20/20 vision. That’s what was throwing everyone off. I could read and see, but I was losing my field of vision. When I was 21, I was legally blind.
“When I first got saved, God laid it on heart to share the Gospel right away,” he said. “He is allowing me to use poetry to get the Gospel out.”
At 34-years-old, he began taking classes at Anne Arundel Community College with plans to perhaps be a counselor. He registered for English as one of his required classes and found himself drawn to Shakespeare and poetic writings. We were reading poetry and literature I had never read before and felt the Lord laying on my heart to write poetry,” Harris said.
While others struggled with the words, Harris felt comfortable. Part of that, he said, was because he had been studying the King James Bible and was used to the language style.
He began to concentrate on English classes and eventually graduated with a degree in general studies with a concentration in English and Business Communications.
“I felt like God used the King James Bible to prepare me for that class,” Harris said. And the class sparked Harris to begin his writing career.
He began writing poetry, but it was “hit or miss,” not focused. When he started studying the Bible he said his mind began to zero in on what he felt led to do.
“I was doing a study on the parables to learn about them and as I was studying them I began to look at them from a literary point of view in addition to their truths. I picked out the parables I wanted to write about, outlined them and worked on them one at a time.
Harris’ “The Prodigal Son” poem tells the familiar story from the prodigal’s viewpoint. “Even though much breath filled him, still I was the sort of son who in essence said: ’Father, you are dead!” He was no more to me than some treasure-filled sepulcher that I permitted my greed to pry apart—when I asked him for my inheritance. And once he acquiesced to my demand, I liquidated my allotment, dissipating it on flatteries from a harlot who whispered barbed rhapsodies that deafened me to the peals of my drachmas dropping into coffers she’d hoard in her treasury.”
Harris gives poetry readings and has developed a poetry-writing workshop to teach others how to write sonnets using scripture.
“He gave this to me as a gift, this is for you. It brings me a lot of peace,” he said.
For more information about Matt Harris’ books visit his website, www.harrispoems.com. To contact Harris about a workshop or poetry reading, email Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.