Matt Black

Matt Black lives in Leamington Spa. Since being Derbyshire Poet Laureate (2011-2013) he has successfully completed over 25 commissions, with poems on 15 benches, 20 milestones, a large glass panel, and in exhibitions and publications. He has read at festivals in the UK, Europe and America, his next collection is Tales from the Leaking Boot (Iron Press, 2018), and his first play The Storm Officer will tour in 2018.  

Matt Black is a poet who wears his heart on his sleeve and his skill in his pen; his poems show that poetry can be a healing art, a celebratory art and an art that can best illuminate the times we live in. More power to his shining work.” - Ian McMillan

“I wrote Footsteps and Fuddles when I was Derbyshire Poet Laureate, and it gathers together poems from commissions alongside stuff that I just wanted to write. It’s an attempt to portray aspects of Derbyshire and its people whilst largely steering clear of the more obvious territory. No well-dressings or stone circles! I’ve always been energized by writing about people and I was moved to write about Chesterfield taxi-drivers, workers in the Swizzels factory in Chapel-en-le-Frith, and a barely known 18th century folklore character called Belper Joe, rather than the beautiful landscape and the traditional mythologies of the Peak District. The collection aims to give voice to, and celebrate, the mostly unheard and uncelebrated.”

“I started writing as a teenager in my bedroom, reams of poems strongly influenced by Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks, Cavafy, and the 3 Liverpool poets, Adrian Henri, Brian Patten, but mostly Roger McGough, whose accessibility and humour I loved. I imitated them deliberately and wholesale, one by one, for six months at a time, stealing moods, vocab, rhythms, and attitudes to landscape, approaching a poem and looking at the world. I also remember sending Yeats’s 'He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven' in a small purple envelope to a young woman I was interested in, and pretending that I had written it. She saw through my deception, but didn’t mind because she was pleased anyway to have some poetry sent to her. My next big poetry loves and influences were Emily Dickinson, Stevie Smith and John Keats.

These days I mostly write in my new deluxe writing shed, which my son and I built in the back garden. It has a bed, a freezer for fruit collected from the local hedgerows and golf course, bookshelves, a darts board, my Poetry Jukebox in a beer brewing bin, and lots of CDs and old cassettes. My favourite poets are Sharon Olds, who I’ve only discovered in the last 4 or 5 years, Adrian Mitchell, Stevie Smith, John Agard and William Shakespeare.”

Spoon Rebellion

I don't know how long I've been planning spoon rebellion. Maybe it's just come over me, thinking about you once again, and carefully drying all those spoons in the cool drawers in your house. I know it's too late now, you're gone. And yes, we've wept and drunk champagne and scattered your ashes in the ocean, but it does satisfy something even now, the idea of getting drunk and spoons rebelling. Spoons up in arms leaping out of drawers, spoons laughing and jumping up and down on your polished tabletops. What would you say? Spoons doing spoony tap-dances up the walls and over the ceiling like upside-down Fred Astaires.

But that's the way it comes over me, and it makes me giggle, when I think about solemnly drying up your spoons and putting them away under the shadow of your clenched lip. Your silence, your busy busy busy behind me in the kitchen. The spoons we must use for your family-famous puddings, gooseberry fool, windy pud, the silver spoons we are meant to be grateful for inheriting. Here they wait, in the frayed wooden drawer in the kitchen barn at the back of the old house. In the romantic south of France, where very un-romantically you have no money. And very impractically we have to travel all the way from England to even see you. And then we have to dry up those spoons so carefully.

But the wine is cheap, and it's good to be here with you. Even like this, with you busy washing up, clenched lip, thinking about your paintings and having no money and looking worried. Ok, so maybe I haven't dried them up the way you wanted, and I think I will get drunk. And in the back of my mind, yes, spoon rebellion is well begun by now. I'm twenty-three, and I have no idea what I 'm doing. The pressure's on, and my tongue is about as articulate as spoons. As your own, as your own zone of silence behind me, busy busy busy, there you go. You flatten your tongue, mother, and I'll flatten mine.

Anyway, for now I'll just dry them up and put them away. Why not? After all, they're only spoons, aren't they. It's no big deal. And we'll do something different in a minute. Have a cup of coffee and talk about something jolly. Yes, that'll be better. So there they are, spoons all put away now, lying in the cool shade, next to the knives.

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