Friday, 13 August 2010

Trevor Matthews

Sad news. Trevor Matthews, who Flax published in West Coast, North Hill, died last week.

His work was recommended to me by Mike Barlow and I immediately wanted to read more. As I did I decided he'd be a great contributor to the three poet book we were planning at the time.

As fellow poet Jane Routh says:

"As a writer he was gifted with something to say and the musical and linguistically ability to get it just right. He was overly modest about his own poetry, and I think you can hear this its quiet, poised and considered tone.

Thank goodness for the selection of his poems Flax published. Here is my warm-hearted and tender friend in 'My Empty Valentine'; here is his quiet wit and wry humour (‘September Harvest’); his careful observation, penetrating intelligence and sense of beauty. And here too, I see now, is a sense of premonition in poems about ageing and death.

'Lovely' is the title of a poem Trevor wrote recently (about meeting an aphasic); and that word becomes the implied answer to its last stanza:

And that is how it ends,
him gone, the river still speaking,
light leaving the fells,
the drift and shuffle of shadows,
and me wondering
if my language were taken
which one word might I hope to keep?

Trevor’s been a lovely friend with whom to share the pleasures of poetry. He read widely, delighting in language: we had many good talks about books. He recommendations were always apt."

Working with Trevor, as his editor, was a pleasure I won't forget. He was generous in his knowledge, open to debate about his writing and eager to support all we did to promote his work: recording Handing Down for Youtube and reading at the many events I arranged around the county. He was patient in the midst of my often over-enthusiasm and quietly adamant in the face of disagreement. Perhaps this was down to his long experience as a paediatrician. His passion for poetry, his and others, illuminated his work and I think his life.

If you would like to make a donation in memory of Trevor to his favourite charities: Water Aid and Smile Train.

Curiosity

The shelf held so many files, some of them labelled
Finance, or Gardening, or Income Tax
but the one that made me smile
was just called ‘Interesting Things’.

Afterwards I opened it, and there were
cuttings from newspapers, pictures,
little objects, stones, dried seed cases,
pages from guide books and obituaries,

things he would have looked into,
examined again, given the time;
at the end I found one, the black ink fresh
the last and lightest box of all

that read, ‘Still More Interesting Things’.

Trevor Matthews. 8 April 1934 - 3 August 2010

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