Walsall poet Matt Humphries is set to release his new collection of poetry “Bullet Verse” on Saturday 24th February at Southcart books. The event is part of a triple book launch including my own book and one from poet and author Paul Morris, so with that in mind I thought it might be fun to sit down with Matt and get some more details about what we can expect from his new book and more.
Q. Tell me about your new book, how did you come up with the title and concept?
Well the title was given me by another poet (Ian Davis) who when I asked him to describe my poetry said “It’s short and punchy,” he then said he thought “Bullet Verse” was a good title. I agreed and absolutely love the thinking behind the books name.
My concept was that I had written a book previously but rushed it and as a result wasn’t proud of it. I am extremely proud of Bullet Verse. I have a theme of trying to provoke thought throughout, I’m no Mike Skinner but I believe some of my work captures an experience a lot of readers won’t have lived. If I can make one reader think then Bullet Verse will have been a success.
Q. What can readers expect to find inside your collection?
Most people who know me will say I’m friendly enough but not very confident, my poetry reflects this in a lot of respects. You will find attempts at humour, social commentary, travel and adventures, along with one of my life long passions mental health. Having been through the mental health system as a patient I found myself sitting on the other side of the table while I was working for Mind as a Recovery Worker. I truly believe to quote Eleanor Longdon “That recovery is not only possible, but it is inevitable”. In many respects mental health has been my life’s work.
For the reasons listed above my poetry is often the odd one out. I’m not sure if I write this way deliberately but it’s how it turns out. It’s a reflection of self with a theme of hope running through. Least I hope that’s what it is.
Q. If you had to pick a favourite piece from the book, what would you choose and why?
Can I choose two!! My most successful poem is “Walls,” which took me to the glitzy Great Western Hotel in Peterborough to perform in the final of the Poetry Rivals competition. I didn’t win but it was an amazing experience.
We build walls, we build walls,
We build walls so high
That they nearly reach the sky
When all we really need to do is reach out.
The second one is the Reception which is about a wedding reception, not my own I might add. I wrote it straight off as a bit of a laugh but whenever I read it people seem to like it.
Brothers and sisters conspired to get wasted
Teenage couples planned to get naked
G&T and lager washed down with pork pie.
Q. Can you give readers a glimpse inside your head of your writing process, how do you put your poems together, what inspires you to write and how long does it take you to put a typical poem together?
I think that writers are insecure in lots of ways, I’m no different to that despite my bombastic character. I am writing all the time, on the bus, in the office, in the shower I’ll be thinking of poems, all the time, for me it’s a constant process. Without trying to sound dramatic, in a lot of respects writing was my saviour, since my mom parked on Bath University when I was eight I had am ambition to write. The only lessons I tried in at school were Cooking and English. If I haven’t written anything for longer than two days I feel lost so I’ll just write anything.
I don’t really have a set process, because I’ve always got a lot going on in my head and I work in the community I find inspiration everywhere. I can meet someone with a nice turn of phrase and they might spark an idea for a poem. I’ve always had a burning anger at injustice so will often write about events in wider society. I read but not enough, and certainly not enough poetry. A lot of my reading material is set in youth sub cultures but I find I get so many ideas from this reading matter.
The time it takes for me to put a poem together varies, sometimes they will almost write themselves and other times they will develop over a course of time. I’m still revisiting two or three poems that nobody has seen or heard but I don’t think they are right yet. I admire poets who can produce really polished, thought-provoking work, I aspire to it but I’m not that poet. I’m more get an idea, jot it down, quick edit then post it somewhere.
Q. After the launch what are your next creative plans?
I am currently in the process of writing my first novel set in the week of the 1990 World Cup semi-final. It’s had a lot of incarnations since I first started it in 2010 but I’m working with a Developmental Editor on this version and obviously I’m a very different writer in 2018 to the one I was in 2010.
I’ll be hoping to attend a few more open mics although reading my work petrifies me and I’ll be supporting Walsall Poetry Society in any way I can along with Southcart Books and I’ll probably be posting on Facebook. I would also like to develop my website further and reach a wider audience. In addition I enter quite a lot of competitions, no wonder my wife says I don’t pay her enough attention!!
Q. Where can folks find you online?
You can find my poetry on the book of face here
Come back next week for a chat with Paul Morris about his new book.