I’m delighted to feature poet Matt Gilbert on Patricia’s Pen as he celebrates his brand new poetry collection Street Sailing published by the awesome Blackbough Poetry.
Thank you, Patricia for inviting me into your space to talk about my debut collection, Street Sailing published by editor Matthew M C Smith at Blackbough Poetry.
Street Sailing is the unexpected, but very exciting product of a return to poetry for me, after a long pause. I stopped writing poetry for a long time, for a number of reasons, but then towards the end of 2019, tentatively began to see if I still had any poems in me.
Turns out I had.
The majority of poems in the collection are inspired by different places and the lives and creatures – human and otherwise – encountered in them. More often than not, my settings involve the streets, parks and neighbourhoods of South East London where I live. Although several poems are set elsewhere, including my home town, Bristol.
Since I was little, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of ‘place’: what are the qualities that make somewhere distinctive, itself. Why is it the way it is? What is its history? What makes it tick?
In part, this interest was fuelled by early avid reading of supposed true ghost stories – local hauntings, folklore, myths and legends. Also, since childhood, like so many others, I’ve delighted in seeing and encountering animals, insects, trees and particularly birds. The poems in Street Sailing bring various combinations of these things together.
There can be a tendency to see ‘nature’ and ‘humanity’ as though we live in entirely separate realms, which in reality we don’t. So, a lot of my poems play with ways in which we humans, I, the poet figure – interact with other beings; from foxes, grasshoppers and goldfinches to possible supernatural entities – at home, on streets, in woods, fields, shorelines or sometimes through time.
If I had to sum up, what I’m aiming to do, I suppose I’d say I set out to explore the strangeness of the apparently everyday. The sometimes, jarring weirdness of a suburban street, or the eerie in a local park. To nick a phrase from myself in another blog, I want to find the extra in the ordinary – and steal it to put it in a poem.
Here is a sample poem from the collection.
About Matt Gilbert
Matt Gilbert is a freelance copywriter, who also writes a blog called Richly Evocative, about place, books, poetry and other distractions. He grew up in Bristol, then studied in Nottingham – which, when he arrived, he thought was ‘the North’. He was soon disabused of this notion. On graduating, he decided to try living in London for a couple of years – which have somehow become decades.
His poetry has appeared in a wide range of magazines, online journals and anthologies. In September 2022 he was Black Bough Poetry’s poet of the month as part of their Silver Branch series.
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My guest spot on Patricia’s Pen
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Thank you, Paul.