This week’s Featured Poet Matt Haigh interviewed.
Tell us about your poems.
A lot of people say they’re very visual, but all I can say right now is that they’re constantly evolving.
How long have you been writing?
Since I was 16. I started out with ambitions of writing an erotic cyberpunk novel about dysfunctional characters drifting in an imaginary dystopia. Poetry came along just over a year ago.
Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
My first poem was published in Poetry Wales earlier this year, but that feels a lifetime away from the style I inhabit now. Being creative is all that’s important for me, so I just want to keep pushing myself, and maybe pluck up the courage to read to an audience.
What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
The positive comments from editors, friends and family.
What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
The best thing for me is using poetry as a device to get people looking at things in a way they hadn’t considered before. The worst thing is how writing it often feels like trying to hit a target while standing drunk in a pitch-black room.
Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
Don’t hold yourself back. Try to avoid the fear of appearing “difficult.” Getting poetry out there is good, it should aim to be inclusive, but I don’t believe the art itself should be sacrificed for popularity. We are complex, we are difficult, and good poetry reflects this. There’s nothing wrong with challenging people and making them think a bit.
Who/what influences your poetry?
Most of the time it’s just these images popping into my head out of the blue, but also the struggle for something original. Worrying about whether the end result is good or complete rubbish doesn’t matter so much as long as I’m being different and experimental. I could try to play it safe and maybe it would get published, but I think that would be a pretty boring way to work.
Take your head, pick the lock with a knife,
or for that thick skull use a hatchet,
then with gloves (to avoid the stain)
methodically start to unpack it.
Crack apart the two halves
as you would an Easter egg, drain
all fluids, nostalgia’s pool,
and siphon off the memory dregs.
Remove with care those tricky parts -
the medulla oblongata -
neurons and chambers like greenhouses
growing buds of laughter.
Tip upside down this toolbox,
give the skull a pat and a shake:
dislodged, your dreams will clatter out
(they betrayed you anyway) and break.
Scoop out a handful of mossy veins:
unravel, stretch, press flat and bend
‘till you have a map of humankind
with tracks and roads that never end.
Once empty you’ll find the root cause
of those bad thoughts - the parasite
who crawled in through your ear, and shrunk
himself to an inch in height.
With thumb and forefinger, prise out the old flame
as you would the tail of a crayfish or
tarantula’s bite. Then, with head dismantled,
get on with your life.
Want to see your poems featured here? Drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org!