Matt Merritt was born in Leicester in 1969. He studied history at Newcastle University, and has worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist in Cardiff, Leicester and Peterborough. He currently works for Bird Watching magazine, and lives near Leicester. His chapbook, Making The Most Of The Light, was published by HappenStance Press in October 2005. Troy Town, his first collection, was published by Arrowhead Press in 2008. His second collection, hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica, is published by Nine Arches Press.
Matt Merritt’s second collection, hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica, is alive with a rare frequency all of its own – it is a precise and rewarding music for the soul, the heart, and the head.
These are poems that take a distinctive route through landscapes rich with legend and wildlife, finding elegies written in the night sky on the way home from the pub, or quiet epics raging in the pages of memories and neglected histories. Matt Merritt has an ear for the exact notes, be they in a major or a minor key, and these gently insistent poems continue to resound long after their first reading.
Praise for hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica:
“In Matt Merritt’s finely honed new collection, lives are lived in liminal spaces, shadow selves are reconstructing history and time is no time at all. These are quick-witted poems, made of toughened glass and ground-down clocks.”
– Helen Ivory
“Matt Merritt’s new book is a cracker – technically adventurous and thematically cohesive. His work is based on a close attention to the world and a scrupulous approach to getting that world into verse. His subject is landscape, the rural and urban landscapes of the Midlands, which he uses as a cipher to talk about personal and community life. We see the surfaces of the contemporary, but also the deep presence of the historical poking through – the planning of new towns and the persistence of floodplains. This is the psychogeography of modern Leicestershire. Reading these poems I felt my own consciousness calming and concentrating – which is as good a way as any of saying that they are beautiful.”
– Tony Williams
This evening, a call I don’t know,
and will never know, perhaps, drowning
the lisp and whisper of goldcrests
at the edge of the new plantation.
Something hard, metallic, insistent,
but quite distinct from the blackbird,
hammering chinks of light from the dusk
to ward off darkness at this time each night.
Across the street, somebody is yelling
you don’t listen. You never listen,
a door’s half-heartedly slammed,
and a car radio plays to no one,
but still the unseen bird sings on,
that urgency pitched above
and beyond the background clutter.
Its only sense is now. Is this. Is gone.
The Ends Of The Earth
At first sight
a ruin, a menhir, a town, a harbour.
Arrive behind the grey tide of dusk,
pale local stone still softly luminous
with the heat and glare of the day,
this whole scene almost monochrome
but the scent a vivid green, guttering streetlamps
igniting moths on their way to the moon.
Woken at four by the singing
of unfamiliar birds, or the farm dogs startled
by the passing of some solitary creature,
hunting or hunted.
Everything moves by night. Up and out
before the lark before anything
with the sky only just thinning and coloring
a slow warming
like a black and white TV set
the hillsides almost bare but look
they’re spackled with pebbles
a scatter of sparrows here
and there two wheatears
listening for what
(I don’t know what)
still a ring ouzel
struggling to swallow
a crescent of daylight moon.
Eight miles out before the sun
fizzes above the rim. Each smudge of colour
trails its own festoon of gulls. Others spiral higher,
higher, until the sky heals over them, and you
screw your eyes up against the spray
and dazzle of it all.
a life beyond
New-minted day behind us,
plunged towards the quench
of the unmapped ocean
showering terns everywhere.
Everything still unsaid.
Warning Against Using These Poems As A Map
No scale is provided.
You are being left
to guess the exact distance
between what’s said
and what was,
between a mere projection
onto the flat page
and a curved plane,
constantly in motion,
spinning through nothingness.
You are your own key.
Assign the appropriate value
to each symbol, and allow
the wide white spaces
to fill up with invisibles,
bloom with the language
of implication. Wait
for the words to accumulate
the sediment of meaning.
Not the sparrowhawk’s dash
to catch it, unwary,
and snatch it from
out of the everyday
or the cormorant’s
relentless pursuit of what flashes
gleaming and silvered
somewhere in the murk
but the sparrow, oblivious,
caught up in the business
of being. Only
the smallest troubling
of the fugged, flickering air
between two doors leading
to one idea
of the dark.
from hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica (Nine Arches Press, 2010)
Visit Matt’s blog, Polyolbion.
Sunday 21st November 2010 from 7pm onwards
At Jam Cafe, 12 Heathcote Street, Nottingham NG1 3AA
Free entry. Sign up for open mic on the door.
Nottingham Shindig! and the launch of Matt Merritt’s
second collection, hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica.
Join us for open mic readings and special guest poets
Robin Vaughan-Williams, Matt Merritt, David Morley
and Sarah Jackson.
Co-hosted by LeftLion Magazine and kindly sponsored by
Writing East Midlands.