Matthew West

I watched the film (Fire) several times over several days and aimed to stay as open as possible towards responses. Initially the way the camera view dropped down the wall, and the limescale on the bricks, made me think of bandages, of wounds being dressed, perhaps as a result of the process of calcification. Eventually a line came – ‘Beneath the bandaging it felt like a broken promise’. This was the start point for the poem, although it didn’t end up as that in the final submitted version. The process of firing the dress held its own narrative, once the ‘broken promise’ was in place. The dress made me think of Paris, perhaps in the 1930’s. The coils of smoke became the cigarette smoke, the initial touch of flames became a lover’s caress. The nature of fire is to consume totally and utterly, and once the flame is lit, there comes a point where total surrender is the only option. The fire’s story is the speaker’s story, the fire’s outcome, the speaker’s outcome. Gutted.

Matthew West is a poet, writer, educator and facilitator based in Southampton. Matt graduated from University of Southampton’s Creative Writing MA programme where he studied Modern poetics and produced two poetry chapbooks, Button Holes and Object to This.

Matt has headlined stages at national festivals including Larmer Tree and has featured as a guest at WOMAD, Secret Garden Party, Cock ‘n’ Bull, and Southampton’s Ejector Seat and SO:FEST. He has also won poetry slams from Winchester to Edinburgh (with few places in between). Matt has also performed as part of the poetic ensemble Alphapoetica for the cultural Olympiad’s A-Z Musical Alphabet and worked with Apples and Snakes on the national youth slam initiative ‘Shake the Dust.’ Matt can usually be found taking part at open mics in Hampshire and the surrounding counties and is currently at work on a new collection of poems set in Hampshire, exploring local and personal histories.

Hosting regular poetry workshops aimed at creating new audiences and encouraging community participation in the blossoming poetry scene in Southampton, Matt is founding director of ArtfulScribe and artistic director/lead facilitator of the Archimedes Screw project, supported by Apples and Snakes and Arts Council England. He has experience of working across age groups including schools and elders and will happily engage and devise workshops according to specification. In 2013, Matt was appointed as Southampton’s first Poet Laureate for Children.

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