Matthew M. C. Smith - Writer
Matthew M. C. Smith is a Welsh writer from Swansea. He is a three times-nominated 'Best of the Net' writer (Icefloe Press 2020, Acropolis Journal 2022 and Broken Spine 2022), a Pushcart Prize nominee (Broken Spine 2022) and R.S. Thomas prize winner (Gwyl Cybi). Matthew is widely published in presses such as Poetry Wales, Barren Magazine, iambapoet, The Lonely Crowd, Icefloe Press, Arachne Press, Finished Creatures and Broken Spine Arts.
Matthew published Origin: 21 Poems in 2018 and The Keeper of Aeons in Autumn 2022.
He studied for a PhD on the subject of Robert Graves and Wales at Swansea University, completing this in 2006. He is academically published in the International Journal of Welsh Writing in English with two articles on Robert Graves.
Matthew writes about landscape, history, sense of place, identities, masculinities, family and cosmology.
He is the editor of Black Bough poetry, a project created in 2019 to promote imagist micropoetry. He is the originator and organiser of weekly poetry fest @TopTweetTuesday on Twitter and the Silver Branch that platforms amazing writers.
Matthew has reviewed for Poetry Wales and The Broken Spine.
Matthew is a campaigner for the return of the 'Red Lady of Paviland to Swansea and has published a pamphlet 'Paviland: Ice and Fire' in January 2023, to mark 200 years since the discovery of these sacred relics in Gower, with all profits to the local foodbank.
"Following on from first collection Origin: 21 Poems comes this second book, The Keeper Of Aeons, and it’s a marvelous read, with a view that takes in “blessings / and blades”, embracing the spirit and exulting in the physical’s “dance of dust”; which roves in outer space but also digs deep into caves, tombs, an abyss; which sweeps into the distant past or edges, in several more speculative poems, towards visions of the future. Stars, skies and satellites, along with skulls, rocks, and bones, are made vivid through language which straddles the sensory and the scientific, takes in history as well as the metaphysical."
"The result is an impressive collection that gave me, here and there, a real shiver up the spine. If you want ghosts to whisper; rooms “where bodies feast / and skulls converse”; if you want stories of gods, or to enter a labyrinth with "a hundred floors”; if you want to be an astronaut, or join the poet on a “star field”, gazing up and wondering, then look no further than the gorgeous, vivid, very finely wrought poems in this collection"
Origin: 21 Poems - poetry collection
‘Henrhyd Falls’ – won the RS Thomas prize for best poem at Gwyl Cybi in 2018. Since published in Seventh Quarry Press, 2020.
Seventh Quarry Press - ‘What Remains’ (poem)– 2018.
Seventh Quarry Press, ‘Revelations’ (poem) - 2018.
Seventh Quarry Press, ‘Eagle’ (poem) - 2018.
Seventh Quarry Press, ‘In a Tomb, Wishes Rising’ (poem) - 2018.
Panning for Poems - 'Vision' (poem) - Issue 11, 2019.
Fevers of the Mind: Grief Issue - 'Footprints' (poem) - 2019.
Wales Haiku Journal - haiku - 2019.
Anti-Heroin Chic - Dying King (poem) - Autumn 2019.
Re-Side Press – 'The Duke' (poem) - first edition
'A Winter Fever' (poem) winter edition 2019.
Back Story - 'Eden' (poem) - December 2019 edition.
Other Terrain - 'The Soft Fall of Midnight' (poem) - Dec 2019.
Other Terrain - ‘The King’s Exile’ – Dec 2019.
Icefloe Press - Teithio (Journeys) (prose, poetry and photos) Feb 2020. (Best of the Net nominated)
Fly on the Wall Press: Identity edition - 'Redemption' (poem) March 2020.
Broken Spine Arts Collective: inaugural book - 'War Fields' (poem) - March 2020.
Headline Poets - 'Poplar Close' (poem) - April 2020.
Barren Magazine - 'Abba Father' prose poem - June 2020.
Finished Creatures - Issue 3 'Balance'
'Towards Night: The Space Station' (poem) - June 2020.
Failure Baler - Issue 4
'Sunday Morning (East Dulwich)' and 'Gaia' (poems) - Dec '20.
The Bangor Literary Journal - Dec '20
The Lonely Crowd - 5th anniversary edition.
'Through Fire and Ice: the man of Paviland Cave' (poem) - Dec '20.
Anti-Heroin Chic - February 2021 edition
Periwinkle Magazine - 'First Snow' edition. March 2021.
Green Ink Press 'Discovery' edition. June 2021.
Black Bough Poetry - 'Dark Confessions' edition. June 2021.
Black Bough Poetry - 'Freedom-rapture' edition. July 2021.
Green Ink Press - 'Roots' edition. Oct 2021.
Black Bough Poetry - Christmas & Winter edition (vol. 2), 2021/22.
'Beacons' and 'Visitation' poems.
Arachne Press: A470 project - poem 'Ancient Navigations'.
Atrium Poetry - March 2022 - 'Living Garment'.
Finished Creatures - the poem 'Aeons' - forthcoming, 2022.
Twist in Time Magazine - 'Khormaskar', 'Soldier's Lament' and 'Four Five Commando' May 2022.
Poetry Wales - How I wrote the Poem feature - 'As if this is a Dreamscape' June 2022.
Acropolis Journal - 'Best of the Net' nomination for poem, 'Reunion'.
Eat the Storms Journal - September 2022 - 2 new poems as feature poet. 'None of us Choose to Walk These Petrolled Lines' and 'Death Moth'.
Icefloe Press - prose piece - 'The Night Step' - 2022
Broken Spine Arts - Pushcart Prize-nominated poem 'What is Faith?' November 2022.
Acropolis Journal - Issue 6 - poem 'Meta' - March 2023.
Poetry Wales - Summer 2023 edition - 'Despite Everything...'
Ink, Sweat and Tears - 'Sometimes, A Man Could Cry'. Pick of the Month, May 2023.
"Smith’s writing is a kind of illumination – his imagery glows with an eerie, lean light that reveals us standing at the edges; of place, history, myth, nature, personhood, and time. The Keeper of Aeons unburies the found bone of our ancient origins, strikes it against the crystal skin of a truly vast universe, then deftly translates as multiple strange futures answer back. Smith challenges us to look deep to our roots, and then, always, to raise our eyes and be dizzied by our place in an ongoing, gleaming story: Anyway you turn is infinity / as light sears the void. This book is a torch to navigate by, from first cave to final spacewalk."
Ankh Spice, author of The Water Engine
"I first came across Matthew M C Smith on twitter, as the editor of Black Bough, an imagist small press that has grown into something quite amazing – publishing anthologies and chapbooks and hosting an online community at @TopTweetTuesday . Reading these poems, you can see 21st century imagism in action. Each one is like a tiny scrap of film – intensely visual. There’s intense detailing in the poetry and the prose, and a great sense of time and place."
"That time varies immensely – we start in the deep past – Cover him in sacred ochre with charms for a dead chieftain – a Mesolithic burial site on the Gower peninsula; hand axes, triangular stones, filling the palm-grip that cleaves, cuts, scrapes, cracks and smashes – a Neanderthal cave site lost to open-cast quarrying. We finish in the Space Age – six panes that show a bow-electric rim of light; drifting through the great void – where lips are planets tilting and limbs are luminous, giant jets of cloud on axis. In Aeons he takes us from kneeling in the scrub to the ability to fly."
"In between, there are childhood memories and present-day reflections. Matt writes in a Welsh accent. By that, I mean the cadence, the rhythm of his words, is Welsh. There are faint echoes of Dylan Thomas in his memories of school trips and presents (Millennium Falcon!) from his uncle. There’s a generosity and creativity in his use of words and word combinations that feels quintessentially Welsh to me – the green steepled ravines, forests of firs, screens of trees. I feel that Matthew is writing within a tradition, but not bound to it. He’s expanding it, taking it somewhere new and powerful. There are Welsh places here – Paviland, Henrhyd Falls, Ogof Coygan – and Matt manages to make them real and mythical at the same time. He balances paradoxes – in Aeons he takes us from kneeling in the scrub to the ability to fly. He contemplates our ability to venerate and to destroy."
"There’s a lot to love here. I think my favourite poem in the collection is Ancient Navigations. A road trip with a lover from the present, into the distant past, a standing stone, and then on, into something almost mystical – pass over ancient navigations, travel in the wind with all our people. Contrast that with Fixing the Hyperdrive, where young Math’s childhood is seen refracted through his relationship with a Millennium Falcon model. The detailed reality is stunning.
The Keeper of Aeons is published by The Broken Spine press"
You can hear Matthew read three poems on iambapoet
Poems also recorded on Soundcloud
Matthew appeared on the Eat the Storms podcasts reading poems from 'Deep Time' and Christmas-themed ones.
Matthew was a Cheltenham Poetry Festival Guest Reader in August 2022.
Matthew was a Guest Reader at the launch of Kari Flickinger's 'Ceiling Fan' in February 2022.
Eat the Storms podcast - two poems from the Storms Journal - September 2022
August 2023 - Matthew reviews books by Peter Finch and Suzannah Evans for Poetry Wales.
May 2023 - Book of the Month Eastridge Review. Review by Corrina Board.
March 2023 - Mab Jones review of 'The Keeper of Aeons'
Feb 2023 - Poetry Wales review of 'The Keeper of Aeons'
October 2022 Poetryminiq with Thomas Whyte (6 questions)
August 2022: About the poem 'Abyss' ,with Sarah Connor
August 2022: Meet the Poet, with Annick Yerem
August 2021: Broken Spine Arts interview
'Nov 2020: 'A Dozen Questions: an interview with Joe Cushnan
February 2020: interview with Paul Brookes (Wombwell)
August 2020: interviewed by Colin Bancroft of Poets Directory:
"Prepare to be moved and challenged by this important new voice. Less is defiantly more here. Nothing wasted. Taut, visceral, human. Where Heaney and Clarke meet. Read and feel. Then go out and notice. Refreshing."
"The 21 poems in Origin exist in spaces where both the reality of human frailty and the possibility of the metaphysical are experienced. These poems dye the snow with ink and turn fire into frost. Origin meets the reader with a deathless stare, delivering feelings of affirmation and of sorrow"
"In a 'calamity of sound', Origin grapples with the strange nuances of humanity. In the shadow of the green man and his 'deathless stare', these poems are concerned with family, the inevitability of loss and our propensity to violence. Matthew M. C. Smith's poetry elevates real events to ethereal landscapes - where cars crawl through a galaxy of stars and oak trees mock the fleeting nature of human existence"
Mari Ellis Dunning
"In the first line of this tenderly wrought collection, Matthew M. C. Smith carries us out of the ordinary into his spectral spaces. Adrift on the masterful music and spellbinding imagery of his verse, he summons us to witness his story - to weather his loves, losses, hauntings, "caught in his tide of time" "and in crackle and smoke" - mist-lit against the myth-steeped landscape of his beloved Wales"
"Equal parts celebration, rumination, prophesy, and chronicle, Matthew M C Smith’s Origin delivers a world glistening with wonder, pulse, and mystery. These poems roam history and space, home and forest, heart and mind. Line by line, the immediacy of Smith’s recognition, the speed with which fundamental truths are rendered whole in these poems—it takes the breath from your lungs. In the span of a few syllables, this is a poet who can illustrate the entire arc of parenthood: from being the story of a child’s life, to being forgotten in the heat of play, to being the shoulder to rest upon when the world has been too much. And no matter how far afield these poems take you, they are always anchored in truth and accuracy, and an underlying faith that the day will end as it should, not as it must, that no matter what happens, “the people you love / carry you from the shore.”
Jack B. Bedell, Poet Laureate, State of Louisiana, 2017-2019, author of No Brother, This Storm