Whitehead poet’s debut collection receives peer acclaim

Whitehead poet Matthew Rice has just published his first collection of poems, ‘The Last Weather Observer’.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 3:43 pm

Belfast-born Matthew, who is a well-known resident of the seaside town, said it was “a surreal but beautiful experience to be celebrating publication day” of his debut book of poems.

There are 46 poems in the collection, which is published by Summer Palace Press, and they touch upon ecological, historical, political and contemporary themes.

These are the threads that link the collection together as a whole, Matthew explained.

Matthew Rice.

The local resident thanked Kate and Joan Newmann at Summer Palace Press and Damian Smyth at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their support as well as Ross Wilson, who provided the original artwork for the cover of the book.

He hopes that readings and launches will be organised in due course, when circumstances permit.

Meantime, the book can be purchased at No Alibi’s Bookshop, online at https://noalibis.com/product/the-last-weather-observer/.

Other writers have been generous in their praise of the work.

The cover of Matthew's book.

Luke Kennard said the Whitehead poet was able to produce “gorgeous, subtle and heartfelt work”.

“Matthew Rice can take a single memory, carve it out of the infinitely re-configurable past, then light and shoot it so that it resembles heaven or hell. The pause at the red light, the school canteen, those we lose, those we keep, then lose; the connections which might arise from a song or a video game. Transporting stuff.” he said.

Belfast-born poet Adam Crothers said: “These poems are attuned to threat, loss, disappointment, resolve. A tense narrative blurs with acceleration into a soft dazzle of lyricism; or the well-borne weight of form and tradition lifts to reveal a friend having a kind and urgent word.”

Irish poet Katie Donovan also praised the debut work as “exciting and long-awaited.”

“These poems are located in moments of tradition. However, Rice maintains an eloquent refusal to glamorise,” she said.

Jacqueline Webster, writing on the Whitehead Today Facebook page, said that it was great to see a local talent doing so well, and offered “massive congratulations” to the poet on the landmark publication.

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