The Evening Entertainment shifts back and forth through history – the personal and familial, and that of anonymous characters from recent and ancient past, going about the business of seeking fleeting happiness in their quotidian lives. This debut collection, 30 years in the writing, is divided into three sections. The first features an array of people, from a medieval monk to existential Sussex surfers, engaged in quiet, heroic and sometimes bizarre pastimes; the second travels back to the poet’s childhood and early adulthood in suburban London and the North of Ireland; before leading to the final, poignant third section, in which the now-grown speaker must engage with the loss of his father during his battle against dementia.
Matthew Paul was born in New Malden, Surrey, in 1966, read Philosophy at the University of Ulster, and lives and works on the outskirts of London. He was shortlisted for the Poetry School/Pighog Press pamphlet competition 2013, has had his poems published in a variety of publications, including Butcher’s Dog, Magma, Nth Position, Poetry Ireland Review, The Rialto, and The Best New British and Irish Poets 2016 & 2017.
Matthew Paul explores two often-neglected subjects, work and play, with wit and precision. He is brilliant at capturing the drudgery and drama of work, allowing us to enter the worlds of a locum dental hygienist in Dubai, lab technicians, a medieval scriptorium or a leaving do. And Paul also shows how we reveal ourselves through our leisure pursuits – The Evening Entertainment has a bill that features a high-wire act, kickabouts, angel-wrestling, mushroom trips, Pinky and Perky, a human cannonball, a Mexican wave, ‘Tizer orangutans’ and Tim, who somehow finds himself ‘at the apex/of a motorcycle formation team.’ Whether you’re looking for something for the commute or for the weekend, these delightful, dazzling poems will titillate even the most jaded palette.— Clare Pollard
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