Matt Hetherington: Kaleidoscopes

Matt Hetherington’s latest book, Kaleidoscopes, was published by Recent Work Press in 2020. Matt was in Canberra last December to read from the book at Smith’s Alternative.

Matt Hetherington

Matt’s poems rarely sit still for very long. The images come thick and fast, constantly changing colour and morphing into new shapes. Perhaps these two lines from Loose Ideas illustrate the point:

so how many abstractions can fit inside a poem this size
when you can’t even step into the same bath twice?

and these closing lines from Eclipse which are filled with images that build into a detailed and coherent whole:

now dawn arrives slow as a window
& a mad dragon swallows the moon

the skyscrapers are like tombstones
the wind points the way to the future

Many poems rattle along at a rapid pace, as with these lines from Loses:

distances have disappeared. we should
      be fine; our plans will save us,
and those who aren’t obviously weren’t.
somewhere else someone might lose
some things, but shut up, ok . . . anyhow,
      if the wind changes,
your face will stay like that.
      come on, deep breaths now.

While some are surprisingly pensive and introspective, such as this poem which uses a single letter for its title:


i would rather be lying on my back, dreaming
while you do whatever you want

or typing senseless love-poems
onto your flesh

or even singing your praises
with my tongue inside you

but instead i have been staring a long time
at the doorway, wondering what to say next

The styles include concrete poems, prose poems plus several pieces employing regular rhythm and rhyme. Deal is a villanelle with the following lines forming the concluding quatrain:

she couldn’t face the truth and he couldn’t cry
their love was left like an unfinished poem
he hated her most when he was walking away
but everyone knows us lost ones often lie

Matt’s poems are at once brooding, heartfelt, staccato and poetic. And sometimes playful as well. They are poems which engage the mind and frequently challenge the reader to keep up with the stream of images and ideas flowing across the page.

Kaleidoscopes by Matt Hetherington is available from Recent Work Press.