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The Number Poems

Matthew Welton

9781784102203
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Categories: 21st Century, British
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Reviews
  • Exactly what I’m saying is: the sunset comes,
    and, in it, something anaesthetic mutes my mind.
    The flock of flies doubles in size; the blackberries bloom.


    A budgie in the sludge begins a song so long
    a heap of people hear it in the year it takes
    and none of them remembers where they heard it first.


    The seriously delirious kid lets out his breath
    and stipulates the apples which he’ll polish up
    and juggle with the plums and crimson damsons at


    the middle of my mind. The light grows alluvial;
    a gust of hasty melody measures the air.
    The mind is modulation. It’s a short haul home.


    From 'Construction with Stencil'
    Matthew Welton is a poet enchanted by form and process. Many of the Number Poems abide by subtle patterns or constraints, creating symmetries in the arrangement of sentences, lines, words, or metrical feet. As with good architecture, however, Welton’s rules and methods resist exclamation; rather, they are the framework upon which are established localised ambiances, be they of warmth or dazzlement, the home or the dream. Other sequences, such as the mind-altering ‘Melodies for the meanwhile’, begin with a palette of words and images and recombine them kaleidoscopically. By adding layers of colour and sound, Welton composes a modulating sensory wave. Even in silence, we do not so much read these poems as perform them.



    Matthew Welton's poems take a playful approach to language and often blur the boundaries between poetry and other forms, such as fiction, music and visual art. His three previous Carcanet books are: The Book of Matthew (2003), We needed coffee but we'd got ourselves convinced that the later we left it ... read more
    Praise for Matthew Welton 'No book this year has brought me more joy.'

    Tristram Fane Saunders, Telegraph Poetry Books of the Year 2020 

    'A beautiful, exactly written piece of nonsense-noir'

    Keith Miller, TLS Books of the Year 2020

    'Through Welton's abundant assonance and alliteration, through the accents and rhythms of his syntax, sensations become linguistically tangible... Welton probes ordinary micro-phenomena to reveal the ineffable... Throughout Squid Squad, the reader is in the company of an acute observer and expert linguist turning his attention to his own use of language. Welton is without peer when it comes to putting slow motion perceptions into words'

    Nasser Hussain, Times Literary Supplement
    'Welton is a poet who resists the idea of a stable, complete, consumable poem, as his iterative patterns of poems (in a book that calls itself 'a novel') show - and certainly, both books are short on satisfaction, questioning in different ways what poetic satisfaction might be. The mimed actions, like unoriginal incorrect versions of ancient epigrams, seem to take us to the brink of textual meaning, again and again, and then leave us there, like cartoon coyotes, scrabbling in midair.'

    The Poetry Review

    'There's a melancholy undertow to his humour: taken together, these poems come to feel like glimpses into the Eleanor Rigby-ish private lives of all the lonely people, as they sit at home, playing with peanut shells, drawing on the walls, lost in tangled thoughts, doing nothing.'

    Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph

    'Welton's tuning-fork sentences make small things sing with precise beauty'
    Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times
    'I'm also eagerly awaiting the publication of The Book Of Matthew by Matthew Welton but I'll have to wait until September. He's a poet who has consistently (but slowly) produced some stunningly beautiful work - but this is his first complete book.'
    Dave Gorman, The Observer
    'I think this is the first poetry book I've recommended, but it's just stunning and deserves far wider recognition. While there's a playfulness and a lightness of touch to the writing it also left me feeling that every single word was in exactly the right place. Beautiful.'
    Dave Gorman
    'It arrives with a unique and distinct sensibility; his poems create their own evocative and elusive worlds. There is a kind of relaxed quizzical sensuality running throughout, an easy, compelling confidence.'
    Guardian
    'It arrives with a unique and distinct sensibility; his poems create their own evocative and elusive worlds. There is a kind of relaxed quizzical sensuality running throughout, an easy, compelling confidence.'
    The Guardian
    'You're unlikely to read anything like it . . . poems are rarely so curious, precise and committed to their enquiry.'
    Jack Underwood
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