Er, so I have a book of poems coming out…

A lane between allotments in Bristol, with the word 'Limbo' graffitied onto a metal fence.

I have my first poetry book coming out in spring 2023, with Black Bough Poetry

That’s a pretty big and thrilling thing.

I get excited enough about individual poems being accepted by a magazine or website, but a book? Bloody hell.

It’s especially surprising to me, as I stopped writing poetry in any serious way for about 20 years, until late 2019 when, and I’m still not entirely sure why, I started trying again. 

So, I admit it, this is exciting. That said, when this was first announced on social media, along with the buzz, I also felt a sudden terrible fear, a wave of nervous butterflies type sensation and a massive jolt of imposter syndrome. 

A long walk sorted out the initial panic and a few weeks later, here we are. 

Who is this so-called Richly Evocative poetry bloke anyway?

First up, a confession. I take writing poetry seriously, but find it very hard to take the idea of myself as a poet seriously. Hence the often jaunty, self-deprecatory tone of this and other posts.

In my blog and on social media I have for years hidden behind a sardonic moniker ‘Richly Evocative’ – the origins of which are explained at length in the about section on the tab above this article – so admitting to being Matt Gilbert, who writes poetry, isn’t something I’ve found comfortable. I’ve just sort of done it and tried not to look too hard. 

Partly, this is because I’m naturally reticent and unwilling to be noticed, especially if that risks sounding pretentious.

Perhaps, also unhelpful in this regard, is the fact that at my secondary school in Bristol – the not-so-sadly departed Monks Park – being interested in books or reading, or thinking, was taken as a sign by many denizens of the place, (pupils rather than teachers, on the whole), that there was something wrong with you. I was once shoved roughly against a wall by a bully because, as my accuser shouted in my face: ‘You like books Gay-Bert, innit?’ (Gilbert/Gaybert – geddit?). Let’s just say, as a book loving, posh-sounding, not-sporty son of second-hand booksellers, my schooldays were not a daily joy. But, like so many others, I learnt to live with it.

So, with that caveat, I’m going to write a little bit about myself as a poet. As part of the build up towards launch, I’m going to share a series of posts touching on my writing process – fear, angst, inspirations, kinda thing.  

In the next few posts, I won’t try and explain individual poems as such – I prefer to think that once a poem is out there, every reader will bring something of themselves to their response. 

Unlike maths, or wordle, there’s no ‘answer’ to a poem – only readings.

In my day job, I’m a copywriter, which – apart from the need to employ carefully chosen words and then condense and edit them down and down and down – often with multiple interested parties firing in opinions and suggestions from all directions – is nothing like writing poetry. 

Not least because there’s much less of me in it, so never feels quite so exposing as poetry – even though, most of mine is superficially looking or thinking out, rather than in. 

Nevertheless, what I will attempt to do is try to talk in general the kind of feelings, interests and sometimes random – where the hell did that come from? – elements that have ended up in some of my poems/writing.

If you get really interested – a delve through previous posts on this blog may reveal more about what motivates me to write. Re poetry in particular, about a year ago, I turned an uncomfortable conversation about my writing into a prose-poem of sorts – you could start there.

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