Review of Matthew Welton's 'The Number Poems' on

Posted on 2 February 2017

"like an artist’s sketch book, a poet showing his workings, with the process of arriving at each line every bit as important as the result."

All poets have obsessions, and Matthew Welton's is poems as patterns. Not just in a metre/rhythm/rhyme/ sonnet sort of way. But at the level of each letter, word, line, stanza, poem, sequence, book. He's fascinated by arranging and rearranging language in rigorous investigations of how we think, articulate ourselves, come across to others, and engage with the world.

Matthew Welton The Number Poems

Matthew Welton, 'The Number Poems' (Carcanet, 2016)

If it sounds scientific, in many ways it is. The process of building a poem for Welton includes strictly followed procedures: a precise syllable count must be sustained; certain words or phrases must be included; vocabulary must rotate throughout the stanzas of the poem in a defined sequential order. And so on.

His explorations into how words stack up produce interesting, and interestingly sustained combinations that make us question what we read.

But it's also a sensual task: contemporary everyday life is evoked in all its messy detail. Coffee features a lot.

To find out more about Welton's latest collection, 'The Number Poems', you can read a full review of it written by me for The Poetry School recently. Why not pop over and read it here.