Hello and Welcome
Matt Black is a writer based in Sheffield and Leamington Spa. He writes poems (and occasionally fiction) for adults and children. He writes for publication on the page as well as for Spoken Word and performance. He enjoys commissions and collaborations with other artists, and works in all sorts of places and situations, specialising in tailor-made projects that range from the serious and educational to the crazy and sublime. Click here for CV
His latest book for adults is Footsteps and Fuddles: Laureate Poems (Derbyshire County Council, 2013), and for adults and children, The Owl and the Pussycat and the Turtles of Fun (Two Rivers Press, 2014).
Snowdon By Numbers (For Saul)
We did the first sums by the station
in Llanberis: 5 miles to the invisible Peak,
and 3000 feet, and the lonely mountain railway
not running to the summit today due to heavy cloud
and winds of up to 70 miles an hour.
You were 10 and I was 44.
You were 4′ 9″ and I was 6′ 2″.
You made a calculation and said –
“Dad, let’s walk to the top.”
“Oo, I’m not sure” I replied, fatherly,
and so on to other sums we discussed.
3 hours to get up there, 2 and a ½ back down,
1 dodgy knee (mine), then 5 miles and 3000 feet
divided by 2 apples and 1 sandwich each,
the number of minutes in which storm and dark can overtake,
1 old overcoat, 1 thin anorak, no walking boots,
£3.50 for the car park. I wasn’t convinced –
“Maybe ½ way” I said “I don’t promise the top.”
So we set off, about ½ past 12, slightly nervous.
You led me up by ¼’s and ½’s and
“Just another 10 minutes, Dad, then we’ll stop if you like.”
Step by single step, up the long slope of the green valley,
then into fierce wet cloud, and round the elbow,
and up the steep scree, into 68 miles an hour of gale
and “We can’t stop now, Dad, it’s only 40 minutes”,
5 feet from the end of the world, 4 legs, 2 hearts pumping,
1 final ridge, 1 summit café ahead, noone else on the track.
And at last, about 3.30, we arrive,
2 wet-through, shaking travellers. The real summit
almost invisible. So, into the cloud-wrapped café
and 70 warm, grinning summiteers in eating chaos.
At the top of the mountain that makes you feel
smaller. 2 fast cups of hot chocolate,
2 beans on toast, cake. And the pair of us
sit there grinning at each other, adding it up,
3000 feet higher, 3 hours wiser, 1 pound lighter,
maybe ½ an inch taller.
“Matt Black’s writing is intense, detailed and deeply original, frisky and funny and sad. It is about knobbly raspberries, stiff rhubarb and sexual fantasy; about compost, disappointment and swelling light brown slugs: a prose hymn to the difference between the real person you fancy and how you imagine them, sung from the shed at the bottom of the allotment. Brilliant.”
Ruth Padel (Darwin – A Life in Poems, 52 Ways of Looking At a Poem)
“Matt Black is a poet who wears his heart on his sleeve and his skill in his pen; his poems in Swimmer show that poetry can be a healing art, a celebratory art and an art that can best illuminate the times we live in. More power to his shining work – this collection is splendid.”
“Best thing is to read them yourself and make up your own mind” Matt