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                Poems by Matt Gilbert

Street Sailing by Matt Gilbert, Black Bough Poetry, published May 2023

Black Bough Poetry are thrilled to announce the debut poetry collection of Bristol-born, London-based writer, Matt Gilbert.  Street Sailing is a collection of 36 poems and is cover-illustrated by Ben Pearce.   

Matt Gilbert's writing marvels in the spirit of place; his poetry wanders, camera-like, along overgrown tracks through woods, riverbanks and wastegrounds that are rewilding; he takes us on journeys to greening edgelands that spill into urban decay. Gilbert's eye pans, then zooms in, on the minutiae that most of us ignore, the neglected details of our physical environment. He is a descriptive, modern poet of nature with a scalpel-like pen and eye for the arresting image as he quietly transcribes, always searching for the near-perfect word and phrase.


This is a collection to carry around with you, to inspire you, to inflame your imagination.


Each poem in this outstanding collection exists in its own right: snapshots of moments, objects and emotions all skillfully captured and framed by metaphor, imagery and form. Gilbert uses his distinctive voice to explore the uneasy co-existence of the urban and rural, the past and present, humans and animals. He has a true poet's eye for detail. The blurring of reality and imagination transform everyday occurrences into a fascinating and sometimes threatening landscape where the mystical and the urbane meet. These poems are alive: they have a heart beat. 

Kitty Donnelly, author of In Dangerous Hours

It is a remarkable thing indeed to find a poet so in command of his craft so relatively early in his poetic journey. But so it is in the case of Matt Gilbert. This is a debut that feels too polished to be a poet's first outing: the deftest ringmastering of a circus of words, the keenest direction of a broad cast of characters, themes and ideas. By the end, you will wonder (as I did) just how Matt plans to engage and entertain us with whatever second act he must surely be at work on.


Mark Antony Owen, author of Subruria I and Subruria II

There is something simultaneously powerful and unsettling about Gilbert’s writing, as he cuts into the centre of a universal fear: what is it like to be seen – truly seen – and can we ever recover from this unmasking? Each poem haunts the page with precise imagery and a linguistic dexterity that illuminates the mammoth talent held in this book.


Weaving between memory, present environments, and dreams of the future, this collection unpacks all the layers a man can hold and the depths a poet must go to uncover them. Gilbert is both man and poet: a tremendous addition to contemporary art and a courageous, sensitive embodiment of masculinity.

Briony Collins, author of The Birds, The Rabbits, The Trees

Street Sailing is a collection that fizzes with the poet’s powers of observation. Matt Gilbert is able to paint the seemingly everyday in a range of fresh and surprising colours. A grasshopper ‘makes a myth of a whitewashed wall’; a crow arrives as ‘a hole in bird form’; pavements become ‘concrete seas’. Wherever Gilbert points us – whether the city, the coast or the countryside – there’s warmth to be found, and a well-judged spoonful of whimsy. This is a collection to savour, from a skilled poet who encourages us to go out into the world with our eyes wide open. 


Jen Feroze, author of The Colour of Hope

About Matt Gilbert:

Bristol poet Matt Gilbert is a freelance copywriter, who also writes a blog about place, books and other distractions at He has had poems published in a wide variety of places, including: Acumen, Atrium, Finished Creatures and The Storms. He was Black Bough Poetry’s Silver Branch poet in September 2022. Twitter: @richlyevocative  Insta: @richlyevocative

Matt has been nominated for 'Best of the Net' and the Pushcart Prize for Poetry.

MATT transmitter
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Resized Matt's book cover
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