Steven Matthews

Skying (2012)


Skying emerges from an engagement with the landscape and seascape of North Essex and the Suffolk border, where Steven Matthews was brought up, and which he has always been drawn back to. It combines moments of illumination with voices remaking family and local stories, and so tunes into oral histories of place. The book’s often local voices associate themselves with, but also diverge amazingly from, national versions of trauma and threat. There are also poems here about childhood, being a father, and about grief and loss.

But the collection also sets those particular voices within and against the history of poetry and art which has been similarly engaged. A sequence, ‘Places of Writing’, and related work, explore the relation of a gallery of writers to their locale. As the title of the collection, which uses a word coined by the artist indicates, the painter John Constable stands as presiding spirit behind Skying’s related concerns.

Read extracts from Skying

ISBN: ISBN 978-1-906742-44-7 Category:

Praise and Poems

In my capacity as poetry editor of the Oxford Magazine, I have published several poems by Steven Matthews over recent years — in fact at every opportunity. They have a highly distinctive quality to them, a compound of clarity of intelligence and unerring verbal skill and accuracy. The appearance of Skying is an exciting and significant event in contemporary poetry.

Bernard O’Donoghue

Steven Matthews’s first collection, Skying, strikes a profoundly English lyric note. Its considered music is unafraid of detail, simplicity or those quietly realist narratives whose fragmentary presence sometimes suggest a book of ghosts. Matthews’s sense of history, landscape and indeed the eponymous East Anglian sky is fine-tuned, and this allows him to explore themes of continuity — which spill over to characterize his poems’ very diction.
Fiona Sampson

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