After reading Matt Gilbert’s ‘Street Sailing’, I feel like I have been for a long walk with him, in Bristol and the country and places in-between, a meditative walk noticing tiny detail and letting it stir the emotions.
He is not afraid of showing his own reaction to places and events, including being moved by the ‘wood-hard muscles’ of hornbeam trees, and an incident where he lit the match to burn a bunch of dead, poisoned rats – ‘layered in between sticks and crumpled /paper, like rat lasagne.’
One of my favourite poems is ‘Garden bag resurrection’ which I remember reading on a long-ago TopTweetTuesday on Twitter. This surreal imagining of the bag as ‘a crumpled, green face’ transforms the ‘death-mask’ into a temporary hive for bees who the poet sees as ‘reinventing space, bridging hope and ruin.’ I can only marvel at such generosity of imagination, to cull this from a mundane object.
There are remarkable relationships at work here, with the living world. The poet sees an old oak in ‘Undercliff’ and staggered, stops. ‘Together briefly, we are a pair/of pilgrims, passing on the road.’ This, somehow, feels like an encounter of equals.
Matt Gilbert (skilfully edited by Matthew M C Smith) has woven some kind of deep magic here from unprepossessing, everyday fabric. Treat yourself to a taste of his conjuring skills.
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