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On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, writer Deb Bunt describes her new poetry book, Walk With Me, written with her friend Peter Berry about his life with dementia.

JJ Barnes editor of The Table Read online creativity, arts and entertainment magazine

Written by JJ Barnes


I interviewed Deb Bunt about her life, her friendship with Peter Berry, and what inspired her to start writing poetry about his life with dementia.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I’m a 60-year-old cycling-obsessed, football-loving, piano- playing, grandmother and now, it seems, a writer!  I have lived, worked (and given birth) overseas and have now retired to the beautiful Suffolk coastal area.

Deb Bunt, author of Slow Puncture, on The Table Read
Deb Bunt

When did you first WANT to write poetry?

Technically, I haven’t written poetry!  It was never an area which particularly excited me although I always enjoyed a bit of Wilfred Owen at school and I love Shakespeare.  But when I met Peter Berry and heard his amazing words, I became interested in the genre.

Reading Never Goes Out of Style

When did you take a step to start writing poetry?

I wrote a poem about a fish when I was seven years old.  I found it recently and wondered why my parents didn’t seek psychological help for me then.  But, as I have said, I don’t really write poetry.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

I had been keeping blogs and information about Peter on his social media accounts.  I was so amazed at his achievements and when I looked at all the blogs I thought: there’s a book here.  So, the actual writing process only took a few months as all I had to do with stitch the existing pieces together and add my own perspectives on it. 

Peter rides a penny farthing bike, he is often the centre of attention; during one such ride, a lady approached us to ask if she could take photos and they were so good that we used them in our book which, not only saved a lot of time, but a lot of money too.

How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

Over the last couple of years, Peter has been texting me his poetry and thoughts about living with dementia.  I knew that as soon as he had texted them over, he would forget all about them.  I decided to keep all of these and then I thought these were so beautiful and profound, raw and real, that I put them together in a book. 

Peter Berry, Slow Puncture, dementia and Alzheimer's, The Table Read
Peter Berry

I wrote an introduction, enlisted a local photographer to provide some photos of Suffolk and, because we self-published on Amazon, the project only took a few months until the book was released.  Every time Peter sees one of his poems, he is amazed that he wrote it! And every time I see Peter’s reaction, I’m delighted that I captured his thoughts.

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Walk With Me?

Peter often says that his “words are written in sand and lost to the tides of dementia”.  He had asked me to carve his words in stone so they were not lost.  That was the motivation behind his poetry book.

What were your biggest challenges with writing Walk With Me?

Because Peter’s words reached me via text and often had spelling errors (due to his dementia and fatigue) and were without punctuation, the biggest challenge was to portray his words without becoming too editorial.  I decided to correct the spelling and add a few commas and full stops but I was very keen to keep the words as Peter-like as possible to reflect what it was like for him, living with a progressive and terminal condition. 

Do you keep to a theme with your poems, or just go where the mood strikes?

Peter’s themes are very much linked to fog, cloud, sepia colours: he is exploring what it’s like to live with dementia and memory loss. 

What is your favourite poem in Walk With Me about and what inspired it?

There’s a poem called “Dance for Life” This is a short poem so here it is:

I have learned to walk hand in hand with Alzheimer’s

Without letting its grip become too hard.

I have learned how to warm its cold clasp,

Softening its hold.

Walking along Alzheimer’s is an art.

Trying not to stand in its shadow

We become dancer in a dance for life.

When I read this, I thought this was analogous with how we are all now walking hand in hand with Covid and it just tugged at me a little more than the others as it struck a more personal note.

Walk With Me, poetry book by Deb Bunt and Pete Berry, on The Table Read
Walk With Me

Does music help you write or is it a distraction?

Peter finds music very distracting particularly loud music.  Although I love classical music, I have to have silence when I’m writing.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Walk With Me need?

A couple of friends read through the introduction of the book and made suggestions.  Once I had inserted a few bits of punctuation into the poems, I left them entirely as they were.  I think they are profound and raw, they come from the heart and not the mind and that is why I (and others who have read them) find them so moving.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write poetry?

I don’t think Peter or I are equipped to answer that! I don’t write poetry and Peter has no recollection of having done so. 

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

Sadly, no!

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

When I think what I achieved with this book, I feel little frissons of pleasure and pride.  All I wanted to do was to be a published author.  One of the biggest boosts to every writer’s fragile ego is for someone to want to buy your book and when an organization in the US (AlzAuthors, https://alzauthors.com/ – who curate and promote the best books and resources on dementia and Alzheimer’s) wanted my book to be on their virtual shelves, my pride levels shot up another few notches! 

I know my book has its niche market but I occasionally dip into it and think, wow, that’s not bad. Equally I sometimes think…ooh overused the metaphor there but you can’t edit forever: at some point you have to let go of the manuscript. 

Finding an agent, surfing on the excitement of that, realising that she couldn’t place the book, feeling the gut-wrenching disappointment of starting again, sending the manuscript off, being rejected and then being published: you just have to take the blows to the chin and get up and try again.  It was definitely worth the effort.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

On-line retailers of the books can be found by clicking the book covers on the following page:


Peter’s website can be found at (and this also contains links to my other social media sites):


My author Facebook page at









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