They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. They also try and tell us what beauty is. They also say that eating cheese and drinking whiskey is bad for you......What do they know? And who the hell are they anyway?
To me poetry is more than rhyme and meter. It is more than a love letter. It is more than a lyrical picture of some natural setting. There is room for all of that stuff within poetry, just not on my bookshelf. No, to me poetry is a kick in the gut, raw emotion, coming from the darker, hidden recesses of our minds. An exploration into the caverns where all the bad things, the unpleasant and ordinary things, dwell...the stuff we hide or forget about.
There needs to be a bit of the soul in every poem. That is where the life is. A life not lived with rainbows and love songs, but one that is lived everyday....A life of the ordinary, in real situations, thinking real thoughts that we all think, but never talk about. That is the kick in the gut.
In this first installment of Five Questions I want to present to you Matthew J Hall. Sometime last year I came across his poetry in Kleft Jaw (an online lit mag) or from one of my many nights scouring the internet for good poetry. I remember reading the poem, “When We Were Kids” and was blown away by it's pensive quality. Like most people, I find myself reminiscing. Usually it is not about the spectacular events, but more the mundane stuff that actually shapes us. This poem reminds me of times spent remembering the little things, some good, some bad and how those moments molded me into the person I am today.
When We Were Kids
growing up in a small market town
we didn't have a shopping centre
or a cinema or a train station
the police station had two cells
the library had three sections
the museum had a penny farthing
my brother and I used to sneak behind the slaughterhouse
and lift the lid of a metal trolley so we could stare at the sheep guts
and the maggots therein
the stench was phenomenal
I can smell it now
our school building was white and held all the appearance of a hospital
during long summer nights of the sort that can only exist in memory
we would clamber on top of the roof and smoke our secret cigarettes
one of my teachers hung himself
a boy's father also hung himself
as did a boy a year my junior
all of this was before the age of mobile phones
my friends and I would make prank calls and laugh
inside of red telephone boxes
I stepped inside of one the other day
in order to reminisce
there was a fine black spider hanging from the receiver
he looked like he had been there for quite some time
I dialled a number and while I waited for an answer
I thought about suicide and rooftops
blue skies and cigarettes
maggots and discarded animal insides
Matthew J. Hall
Matthew J Hall is a poet in the truest sense. He puts on the page that which is in his heart. And that, a life lived in the day to day is beauty.
So is cheese and whiskey.
Note: There are links below that I wanted to cleverly insert into the text. However, I am not as tech savvy as I once was, so please check them out. You will not be disappointed.
Five Questions With: Matthew J. Hall
1. What/who inspired you to start writing?
I come from quite a musical family and started playing the guitar when I was about nine. I was too lazy to learn other people's songs all the way through so I started writing my own. When I was about ten, I heard John Lee Hooker's 'Boom Boom', even at such a young age I was blown away by the sound and raw emotion of it. Most blues songs tell a story. So, I started writing my own and continued throughout my youth. All these songs and stories were written into the pages of a notebook until it was full and then I'd throw it away. Not because I thought what I'd written was worthless, more a case of the pages having served their purpose. In some ways nothing has changed, no matter how pleased I am when a piece gets accepted, it's the actual act of getting the words down that inspires me to write. I didn't start seeking publication until the last few years and that was only because I had been writing more and more and started to feel that as it was taking up so much of my time, maybe I should do something with it rather than just continue to fill notebooks.
2. How would you describe your writing style? or describe your process
I generally write in the mornings because I work in the evening. I don't have a process in terms of structure and routine. I feel like too much of life is about turning up at a certain time and following process and procedure. The day I start writing like that, will be the day the fun stops and consequentially, so will the writing. I smoke a ton of cigarettes and drink a lot of coffee when I write. Most of the poems I've written drunk have been total shit. The first third of a bottle of whiskey is fairly sharp and creative, but then I get greedy and everything goes to hell. The rhythm's off and I churn out every cliché in the drunk-ass book. I never write hungover, the guilt won't allow it. I don't really know what my writing style is. I know I like the idea of writing with brevity, hence the name of my blog, Screaming With Brevity. Less is more, but only when it's written well. Particularly, in poetry I tend to be drawn towards the less verbose writers. I like poems that are lyrical without wasting words. For me a good poem will quickly remind you of things you may not want to remember.
3. What are common themes in your writing?
My poetry tends to lean towards the literal rather than the abstract, although I certainly do enjoy the metaphor. I've had my battles with addiction over the years and due to those experiences I'm quite interested in inner conflict, which shows up frequently. I have written some fairly dark shit, but hope is certainly a reoccurring theme.
4. What are you working on right now?
Writing poetry is ongoing for me and I get such fullfilment from it. Last year I really enjoyed putting together a few short collections of poetry and making them available online and this year I'd like to combine those books, add some some additional material and publish it as a print edition. Writing fiction, on the other hand, doesn't come so easily. A couple of weeks ago on my blog I announced 2014 as the year I would be focusing more on writing fiction and hopefully having some published. Those are the two main things I'll be working on this year.
5. Brushes with celebrity
I walked past Pulp's front man Jarvis Cocker in Hyde Park, London once. I don't know if they made much headway in the States but they were fairly significant during the whole Brit-Pop scene in 1990's England. I didn't really care for his band but I did enjoy the radio documentary he presented for the BBC last year on the life and work of Richard Brautigan
Question 3. www.screamingwithbrevity.com
Question 4. http://issuu.com/mjh1979
Question 4. http://www.screamingwithbrevity.com/fictitious-aspirations/
Question 5. http://www.brautigan.net/
#interviewmatthewjhall #poetry #fivequestionswith
© Charles Scott 2014