Welsh writer, Matthew M C Smith, is not only a poet, but runs a small press Black Bough Poetry – (Publisher of imagist micro and short poetry.) Matthew is also one of the biggest poetry supporters on Twitter, in particular running his weekly TopTweetTuesday.
It therefore gives me great pleasure to feature Matthew M C Smith on Patricia’s Pen. Without further ado it’s over to Matthew blogging about his forthcoming poetry book, The Keeper of Aeons. And check out the fabulous cover!
The Keeper of Aeons
Matthew M C Smith
Patricia, thanks for this opportunity to write about my forthcoming book The Keeper of Aeons and thanks also for all you to do support poets.
The Keeper of Aeons, which will be published by UK press Broken Spine Arts Collective, will be my second book after Origin: 21 Poems. It’s almost five years since publishing Origin and it feels like the right time to launch a second one after working over my poems and prose intensively over the last few years.
I submit most of my writing to literary presses as a process of creative discipline. The prompts and themes given by publishing houses get me focused on writing when life is hectic. If I’m sending work to editors, to anyone for that matter, I really focus, challenging myself to be inventive in the act of creation, to avoid recycling tired subjects in a cliched manner, and always make sure there is careful editing so that my work is hopefully readable and of a standard. How impactful or fresh the work is – well, that’s always up to readers to decide. It’s difficult to write anything truly new in the 21st century but it’s about striving to approaching it from an individual perspective and stretching myself.
The process of submitting feels pretty rigorous and when I get rejections, I always look over work to see how I can improve it, make it more engaging, imaginative, transporting, checking again for mistakes or opportunities to (hopefully) sock it to my ideal readers. I’m wary about using jargon like ‘growth mindset’ but that’s how I would describe my attitude to the craft. I rarely get down about rejections now – I just move on. I hope that my poems are well-crafted and provoke, move, inspire and challenge – that’s the goal.
The Keeper of Aeons takes us to points in human evolution, like instant time-travel (poetry/ prose/ storytelling can magically do that, can’t it?), with the intention of immersing the reader in the atmosphere and sense of place: the planes of the Rift Valley in Africa; Paviland Cave in Wales, site of the famous ‘Red Lady’ burial; a bronze age burial mound in Anglesey; the Venice of Marco Polo; a masked ball in the 18th century; personal reflections on my childhood in the Swansea Valley; snapshots of contemporary places and landscapes in Wales and beyond; astronauts orbiting earth on the Space Station; we also travel to futuristic, anthropocene cities and through the cosmos in more surreal, dream-poems.
I’m really excited about the book. Many of the poems are grounded in archaeology and history but there is a deliberate juxtaposition with the uncanny, the weird and the surreal. I hope people get the book, dip in and out of it and experience daydreams and reveries of different places and times. I also hope they have their own fantastical journeys as a result of reading it.
As for the title The Keeper of Aeons, this refers to humanity. As far as we know, we are the only sentient beings on planet Earth who have the capacity to attempt any sort of comprehension of the passage of time, or at least grasp at interpreting instances in time and strive to understand their own place in planetary evolution. What do we understand? What does ‘understanding’ actually mean? What do we know and what is knowable? What have we missed in our continual searching for knowledge and what will always be beyond us? What will we know in the future that will surprise and stagger us? Humanity holds so much knowledge but there is so much we are ignorant of. We are keepers of the world, the keepers of Time on our planet (it feels like that to me), but we have our own limitations – we’re amazing, capacious organisms but also woefully human. Hopefully readers will further ponder this enormous complexity when reading the book and feel a sense of awe at everything around and inside them.
Thank you Patricia!
Thank you Matthew, it was a treat to have you pop over. I for one can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of The Keeper of Aeons.
What Matthew hasn’t mentioned is that you can pop over to Black Bough Poetry and check out all Black Bough publications and find out how to order a copy. I highly recommend these books if you like imagistic poetry.
About Matthew M C Smith
Matthew M. C. Smith is a Welsh writer from Swansea. He is ‘Best of the Net’ nominated 3x and is published by presses such as Poetry Wales, Finished Creatures, Acropolis Journal, Icefloe Press, Anti-Heroin Chic, Atrium Poetry, Barren Magazine, Fevers of the Mind, Fly on the Wall and The Lonely Crowd. He has been a featured writer for Broken Spine Arts, Icefloe Press and The Storms Journal and won the R.S. Thomas poetry award at the Cybi festival in 2018.
Matthew is also the editor of Black Bough Poetry, the Silver Branch project and Top Tweet Tuesday on Twitter, platforms that promote imagist poetry.
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