Tuesday 29 November 2011

Last week

Last week saw a 2-0 win for Aldershot Town over Maidenhead United, plus two terrific readings in London and Nottingham. In other words, I had a great trip!

I'm very grateful to Declan Ryan for organising the Days of Roses event in London last Thursday, where my personal highlight was Rory Waterman's reading of some excellent new work - I'm really looking forward to his first collection from Carcanet next year. In the meantime, however, I've made do with a copy of the New Poetries V anthology, which features a good selection of his poems.

As for Nottingham, meanwhile, thanks are due to Robin Vaughan-Williams for bringing it together. It was a great opportunity to meet up with a number of other Happenstance poets and see Helena Nelson read for the first time. "Enthralling" would be an understatement! Maria Taylor, who has a full collection forthcoming next year from Nine Arches Press, has posted a review of the evening on her blog here. I'm especially pleased with her remarks about my own slot:

It was great to hear Matthew again, as I so enjoyed his pamphlet ‘Inventing Truth.’ He has a deeply engaging style. He read his poem ‘Instructions for Coming Home’ at the beginning and end of his reading. The perspective altered when he mentioned at the end that the poem was written from the point of view of a widower, the preparation of a simple meal is given a certain gravity by the final line ‘Now confront the day, bite by bite.’

These readings have certainly given me the taste for more - I love the feeling of bringing Inventing Truth to life for an audience - and I hope to take part in further U.K. events in 2012.

Monday 14 November 2011


With a slightly seedy town centre that's populated by fewer and fewer squaddies, more and more boarded-up shops and numerous tattoo parlours, Aldershot might be synonymous with decay for many people. For me, however, it's very special, not because of the place itself, but because of the football club.

One of the league's perennial strugglers, almost always anchored in the old Division Four, Aldershot F.C. was my local team as a kid. From the day in 1984 that I persuaded my Dad to take me along to a friendly with Aberdeen (for whom a certain Alex Ferguson was the manager), I was hooked. The following year we got season tickets. It provided an outlet for suburban boredom and appealed to my sense of being an outsider - I revelled in being mocked by my Liverpool-supported classmates.

I then moved away to university. At that point, the club got into huge financial trouble and was taken over by a supposed teenage millionaire who turned out to be penniless. I followed the stories every day in the papers until the definitive news - in 1992 Aldershot F.C. went bust.

A few months later and the club had been reformed by its supporters as Aldershot Town F.C., starting in the lowest tier of non-league football. Soon afterwards, I moved to Spain. Ever since, I've followed the team's progress through the divisions until they finally made it back into the league. As a kid, I'd got to every single match, but I've had to get used to missing out on countless terrific occasions, forced to listen to radio commentary over the internet for the Play-Off final in Stoke, promotion in Torquay and then, worst of all, the cup tie with Manchester United last month. My teenage self would never have forgiven me!

My sense of being an ex-pat is intensified on such occasions. I've grown resigned to not seeing every match these days (I often only get to three or four a season), but one of the most important parts of my forthcoming trip to the U.K. is a visit to Aldershot for the 1st round F.A. Cup replay with Maidenhead United, all to take in the misted breath, the perfume of chips and tea, the supporters' frustration, rage and joy.

The following poem, taken from Inventing Truth, invokes a pivotal day when it really hit home to me that I was to become a visitor in this special atmosphere rather than a regular:

Last Season

It’s 3 p.m., a Saturday
in December 1990,
and Dad and I have reached our seats,
C8 and 9, the third row back,
in line with the penalty spot.

I’ve come here straight from the station
after two days at interview.
Now we win one-nil and we're through!
For the first time something other
than GOAL fills my mind as we score.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

A Night of Happenstance in Nottingham

Two days after Days of Roses in London, it's on to Nottingham, where I'll be participating in "A NIght of Happenstance" on Saturday 26th November. Organised by Robin Vaughan-Williams, this is a chance to take in readings by six poets from the Happenstance stable (Helena Nelson, D.A.Prince, Robin Vaughan-Williams, Marilyn Ricci, Ross Kightly and myself). The venue is Lee Rosy’s tea room, where we'll be starting at 7.30pm. Entrance £4/£3 (concs).

More details, plus background info about all the poets, can be found here on Robin's blog.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Days of Roses - Phoenix Night

As promised, here are the details for my London reading (info on Nottingham to follow in the coming days). It's taking place at the Phoenix Artists Club, 104-110 Charing Cross Road, on Thursday 24th November, 6.30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. start.

I'll be appearing alongside Rory Waterman (also one of the editors of the excellent New Walk magazine), Dai George, Ira Lightman, James Goodman, Oli Hazzard, Preti Taneja, Rishi Dastidar, Robert Selby and Sophie Mayer. What's more, I gather we might be joined by a one or two terrific extra readers - news as and when I get it!

My reading will focus on a showcase of poems from Inventing Truth, and I'll be bringing a few copies with me just in case you fancy acquiring one on the night.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Two readings in November

This November will see me heading back to the U.K. for a few days to give two readings alongside a whole host of excellent poets.

The first of these events (under the auspices of Days of Roses) will be taking place in London on Thursday 24th November, followed by a Happenstance reading in Nottingham a couple of days later. I'll be posting more details about venues and times, etc, in due course. I'm really looking forward to this trip, a great chance to meet up with old friends, put a face to more recent ones and pick up the piles of new poetry books and magazines that are waiting for me in Chichester!