David Kessel was born on the 2nd of April 1947  in Harlesden, in the Borough of Brent, North-West London.
He suffered a breakdown at 17 prior to medical school. With diplomas from the RCSP, he went on to practise as a GP in East London until his second breakdown put a halt to his medical career. In spite of his illness, David continued writing poetry and published The Ivy in 1989 (Aldgate Press; reprinted 1994). His poems have appeared in the Phoenix Co-Operative, Poetry Express and the anthologies Where There's Smoke, Hackney Writers, Outsider Poems, Bricklight – Poems from the Labour Movement in East London (Pluto Press, 1980) and Under the Asylum Tree (Survivors’ Press, 1995); and have been put to music by the EMFEB Symphony Orchestra in Owen Bourne’s score Hackney Chambers. The publication of O the Windows of the Bookshop Must Be Broken – Collected Poems 1970–2006 (ed. Alan Morrison, Survivors’ Press, 2006) proved a best-seller. A selection from this volume was recently published in a bilingual German-English volume, Au├čenseitergedichte (Verlag Edition AV, 2007).
David continues to write poetry in his flat in Stepney, while campaigning for mental health patients rights.
To follow a photo of David with fellow friend Dr Peter Barham while visiting the Mary Barnes exhibition at the Nunnery Gallery, Bow in March 2015. 

Find here some links to more information about David's work and some of his poems.





Live performance for the "Ravaged Wonderful Earth - A Collection for David Kessel" book launch of the outsider poets in collaboration with F.E.E.L., Stepney July 2013


There was a time when I was young
when I first learnt to face the sun

Grew in me a burning sight
bitter and lonely as the night

Held a girl in sweet embrace
and made her memory my life

Suffered patriarch's contempt
futility split my mind

Bore a son upon my back
and his sorrow broke my heart

Came to love London streets
and hummed an anarchist's lament

At heart-rending Peckham Rye
ask What, How and Why?

The kingdom of the dead
or living commonwealth?

(Aldgate 2013)

Hillside, Llangattock

We think with our shoulders.
On the lime-quarried hillside
Down a stony lane lined with ash and hazel
A poor disused chapel where
Fierce hymns give men courage.
Hardship on this hillside, riven
By lime and bracken, thistle and scree.
A cold, slow rain on a cottage in the dell
Mortared with the blood of quarrymen hill-farmers.
Sheep grieve above the oak wood
Where a mistle-thrush storms hell.
A feral cat hunts the black redstart; so rare, so shy.
November beeches aflame, as many
Fallen leaves as slain quarry men.
Resistance of pain in the chest and spat gob.
From a dry- stone wall, jenny wren’s song
Holier than remberence.
Dangerous to take the sheep track at dusk.
The blessedness of February wind
Through an old goat-willow.
Here men pray with their stomachs:
The gnarled upland cabbage in
A broth with barley
The language of hunger: an alcohlic’s lack.
The fox and the crow pick the dead lamb clean.
Springtime in the valley and the hawthorn blooming.

Wednesday 10.2.2010

Life Against Death

The east wind of high summer.
Old men with cider bottles,
And I suddenly an old man.

Through the slums with Jesus,
Black, broken hearted, golden Grace.

The whistling Cockney gives
His heart away at street corners
to the young alki: cursing, skint.

Bengali dawn
On the Whitechapel waste.

The Gestapo will pass-
There shall be silence
Broken by cawing crows
amd the vixen's cry.

Strong as our pain is strong,
Our children are.

A savage peace,
The rain over Stepney.

Tough one

In an East End park I smoke to death.
Do I care or take the piss?

Fury in the heart of an old timer;
Hanging and idiocy – English Fascism!

Toffs think life's a game;
The “shagging dead” I call them.

White Power” - a cockney tragedy;
A mug of tea the colour of blood.

Freudian psychos talk about arseholes,
good folk, about saving the earth.

Will our great sea-faring nation come to this:
A Bengali lad, stuck in the gut, then pissed on?

Working class internationalism as rare
And wonderful as the black redstart.

Never so happy as growing old with
A loved one in a quiet council flat.

A low grey sky over Bethnal Green
And a cockney lass's whistled song.

Tuesday 21.6.2005

Ruby Courage   

Elegy for Patricia Walters and Tony O'Donnel – Hackney schizophrenics who died 2007.     

Long before and after mankind 
The wooded hillsides echo 
With the call of the woodpigeon at dusk  

Grey streets wherein my heart lies 
Blacker the clouds heavy with rain   

The sweet surge of heroin in a cold back room, 
Smell of nuclear wind in the morning, 
And the aftermath, alone as never before!   

Addicted to life, all life, we may withstand.   

Huge-hearted Pat Walters in a Hackney street, 
Arguing and singing her black gospel, 
Martyred by our indifference.   

Wry humour of Turkish voices from an alleyway.   

A trendy genocidal English gent in a fight with 
ECT-wracked O'Donnel with his ruby courage.   

Being hard to survive, tender to live.   

And Copernicus, who transposed his lust 
Into such wonder for a few naked years.   
Hunger half of life, respect the other half.   

The pain of London pavements and sleet across Scafell.  

 Wednesday 10.2.2010

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