Matt Simpson

Matt Simpson lectures in English at the Liverpool Institute of Higher Education. His first full-length collection of poems, Making Arrangements, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 1982.

Poem: ‘On My Mother’s Side’

Matt Simpson, 7 February 1991

Across the double glazing, the full moon nudges a look-alike, its own spook satellite, in and out of watery cloud.

A string quartet’s refined accents – andante cantabile – are exercising heart strings, when, gurgling suddenly, the phone ...

She’s trying numbers, Simpsons in the book. ‘Is that the Matt Simpson that’s at Liverpool University?’ Dear...

Not yet a student of fastidious geisha pillow talk, or subtle sticky desert nights on perfumed rugs, or tendril limbs of Hindu gods exposing how to shag a thousand ways in stone, or chandeliers’ riggish janglings in Paris, Petersburg, nor yet multiple Califoraian kicks ...

I’m shown, by Neck Ends, in a dock canteen, the secret of the Biggest Thrill: a fly, he mimes, with wings...

Poem: ‘John Clare’s Horizon’

Matt Simpson, 16 March 1989

had to lie somewhere – hedge or ditch exactly bordering on God. Wanted to know where it lay from Helpston; found it

maddening – no end of lanes, of fields where grass and leaves smelt strange, larks babbled other dialects; wandered

mile on mile in search of it – an end to far-as-eye-can-see despair; settled on turning round, went home.

Poems of Passage

Matt Simpson, 5 January 1989

Father of the Bride

Smart and ominous in suits the groom’s brothers, brothers-in-law are clutching cans of lager like grenades;

his sisters, sisters-in-law in crockery hats curl fingers round champagne, fill the room with lipstick, teeth;

and little lads in dicky bows, little girls all curls in first communion frocks have got the piano cornered and the cat.

The Best Man hates himself,...

Poem: ‘Three from the Ward’

Matt Simpson, 1 September 1988

for U.A. Fanthorpe


A Busby-Berkeley stunner: thirty-second sequence of curtains swished back one after one all down the ward. I’m standing near my bed, a raw recruit, screened off and hushed.

Then trundlings and swivellings on polished boards, quickly in and quickly out, and final curtains scraped back one by one.

‘Behind you! Through the window!’ next-bed said.


I myself have seen the wild roses grow upon the very ground which is now the centre of the borough of Bootle.

William Ewart Gladstone

This road I trogged to school down, eleven-plus, in fluorescing socks and Yankee tie; the solid end of town, Victorian sandstone, tall windows, doors-up-steps, attics for cramping servants in. I drive through blackened gates to tarmac where a garden used to...

Two Poems

Matt Simpson, 5 February 1987

Getting the world right

‘Aye, once we get a Protestant Pope,’ my father cheeked shawlies in the snug, hard-nosed chars clattering gangplanks, early-morning mops.

Next Door’s would have scowled. Across a creosoted fence we scarcely spoke, their lad-my-age and me. Sometimes at the coalshed and him at the bin, scraping cinders, shovelling coal, I’d try ’Too cold for...

‘Liverpudlian’ plays self-mockingly on the idea of ‘pool’. I was born in Liverpool. I would be flattering myself if I claimed that you need to be a comedian to survive there. But Liverpudlians do, like punsters, switch things about: they breathe through their mouths and talk through their noses. They are physiological, existential twisters.

Walter Redfern –...

Four Poems

Matt Simpson, 19 December 1985

Rolling Home

for Tony, former student

In that shop the things stuck out their mitts wanting to strike bargains, get on with the job.

Hammers, brace-and-bits, hearty saws, planes that I’m cackhanded with, chisels with more edge than I can trust, that scoff at fumbling, my kind of muscle.

‘Get yourself a big one, dad!’ Your joke was good, went home: I could have had a son your...

Paradise Lost

Nicholas Everett, 11 July 1991

During the 18th and 19th centuries verse surrendered its longer discursive and narrative forms to prose and confined itself more and more to the short lyric and the sequence of short lyrics. Much...

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