Friday, 13 October 2017

Nottingham, Cheltenham and Manchester

The Knives of Villalejo will be hitting the road again in the coming days, visiting Nottingham, Cheltenham and Manchester for three featured poet slots. Once again, I'm looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones.

On Tuesday 17th October I'll be reading at Wired Café in Nottingham as part of the Totally Wired reading series. The event starts at 6 p.m., finishing at 8 p.m.. There's also an open mic and entry is free.

On Wednesday 18th October, meanwhile, I'll be the guest poet at Poetry Café Refreshed in Cheltenham, which is held at Smokey Joe's. On this occasion, the event will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., admission is five pounds and there's an open mic scheduled too.

And my third date is in Manchester on Friday 20th October, when I'll be reading for Manky Poets at Chorlton Library from 7.45 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.. This time, admission will be two pounds and there'll be an open mic as well.

Here are the posters for Cheltenham and Manchester:

Monday, 9 October 2017

Roy Marshall features The Knives of Villalejo

I'm delighted to report that Roy Marshall, whose own poetry I've long admired, is featuring The Knives of Villalejo on his blog as part of a longer article with all his recent news. Roy has posted one of the poems from my collection, titled "La Visita" and has some kind words to say about the piece in question, highlighting its "brevity, apparent simplicity and understated depth". You can read his post (plus the poem) in full by following this link.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Three readings in October

Following Leicester and Cambridge last month, The Knives of Villalejo will be travelling to Nottingham, Cheltenham and Manchester this October. I've got three guest poet slots lined up as follows: Totally Wired in Nottingham (on 17th October), Poetry Café Refreshed in Cheltenham (on 18th October) and Manky Poets in Manchester (on 20th October). More details in due course...

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Terrific review in The Frogmore Papers

Excellent news today: there's a terrific review of The Knives of Villalejo in the new issue (nº90) of The Frogmore Papers. Written by Clare Best, it begins as follows:

"Matthew Stewart’s first full collection has been twenty years in the making, and is the better for it. Things are distilled to their essence. Every word counts..."

In order to read the review in full, alongside new poems by the likes of Abegail Morley and Jonathan Edwards, you can get hold of a copy via the Frogmore website here.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

A poet's dream

This afternoon, I know full well I should post about my terrific evening in Leicester on Monday, meeting lots of new and old friends such as Maria and Jonathan Taylor, Jane Commane, Roy Marshall, Rebecca Bird, Romalyn Ante and Jayne Stanton (apologies to anyone I've missed out!), all in the context of the chance to read as a guest poet at Shindig and allow the poems from The Knives of Villalejo to stretch their legs.

And I also know I should be thanking Trish Harewood for her generous hospitality, commitment to everything poetic and excellent introduction to my reading at CB Poetry in Cambridge on Tuesday: a lovely venue with more lovely people involved.

However, instead of all the above, I simply cannot resist the selfish temptation to flaunt the fulfilment of one of my dreams. Last Wednesday, while visiting Cambridge the day after my reading, I popped in to Heffers Bookshop, where I inevitably headed for the poetry section. A vain streak, almost certainly in vain, led me to run my eyes down to S for Stewart...and I couldn't believe it! Two copies of The Knives of Villalejo were there on the shelves!

I must have been making such a berk of myself that a member of staff soon approached me. On hearing my explanation that I'd never seen my collection in a bookshop before, he promptly asked me to sign both copies and he immediately placed them in a display at the entrance to the poetry section. Don't believe me? Well, I don't believe myself either, so here are the photos as everlasting proof:

Friday, 22 September 2017

Leicester and Cambridge

I'll be giving two readings from The Knives of Villalejo in the next few days as the guest poet at a couple of excellent events.

First up is the Nine Arches/Crystal Clear Creators Shindig in Leicester on Monday 25th September, where I'll be reading alongside Romalyn Ante and Rebecca Bird (plus open mic). This event will be held at The Western Pub, 70 Western Road, Leicester LE3 0GA. Entry is free and the evening will get going at 7.30p.m.. I still remember my last reading at Shindig back in 2011, when I launched my first pamphlet, Inventing Truth. The beer was great and the atmosphere better, so I'm looking forward to going back there, meeting up with lots of old friends and making a few new ones.

My second event, meanwhile, is on virgin territory for me, at CB1 Poetry in Cambridge on Tuesday 26th September, where I'll be reading alongside Menka Shivdasani. The starting time on this occasion will be 8p.m. at CB2 Bistro on Norfolk Street, Cambridge, entry 5/4 pounds on the door with open-mic slots also available. I've heard lovely things about the vibe at this regular event, so I'm keen to find out for myself.

You can find more information about CB1 Poetry at their website, while here's the poster for the Shindig:

Monday, 18 September 2017

Poetic fame

You win The Bridport Prize and the inaugural Bloodaxe Books National Poetry Competition. Bloodaxe then publish your first full collection and it's made a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. All this happens in the space of twelve months. Little do you know that thirty years later only a few aficionados will know your name in the poetry world.

This chronicle forms the bare bones of Deborah Randall's story, but very little more appears on Google. I encountered her first collection, The Sin Eater (Bloodaxe Books, 1988) among the remnants of Peggy Chapman-Andrews' personal library, and my curiosity was aroused. Randall's work is idiosyncratic, often drawing on the myth kitty yet also raw, earthed in harsh personal and natural landscapes. Her edgy, uneven male-persona poems are especially interesting, gnawing indirectly yet painfully at gender models.

Following the publication of that first book in 1988, Randall brought out a second collection, titled White Eyes, Dark Ages (Bloodaxe Books, 1993). Since then, I can find nothing in her name. A few pieces from her two books have been anthologised, especially by Bloodaxe, but her name has faded from the scene.

Poetic fame is ephemeral, as certain present-day, C.V.-driven careerists would do well to note. Moreover, the current maelstrom of social media means that taste moves on even more quickly than in the past. Poetry lovers can only savour, treasure and keep alive delicious discoveries like Deborah Randall's work.