Matthew Welton’s The Number Poems

numberpoemsAfter hearing Nottingham’s Matthew Welton give an exuberant performance of poems from his new Carcanet collection on National Poetry Day last month I knew that this book had to be my next poetry read. Welton’s playfulness with language is wonderful. The Number Poems has a mesmeric and almost other worldly feel to it. In ‘Melodies for the Meanwhile’ you are drawn into a sequence of alternative situations located in a kind of vaguely end of summer New England village setting where people potter about, move through houses and natural surroundings, talk and involve themselves in sometimes mischievous or even criminal acts which occur slightly differently in each poem. Syrup knives, honey paper, apple spoons, lemon tubs and other curious implements abound. The only constant is ‘when we speak it’s as if we’re unsure we’ll be heard’. I read much of this substantial section of the book on a meandering bus journey right across the city which was ideal. Welton’s keen ear for sound, particularly his fascination with repetition, internal rhyme and rhythm, drives his delicious choices of words (for example,’we traded the truffles for the coffee and waffles, and bundled into the/ treacle truck and trundled away in the wind’). A series of final ‘notes’ on the collection’s title further underlines both the humorous and enigmatic nature of Welton’s work.

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