Matt Howard is a poet with a day job in nature conservation. He is also an editor and a programmer of poetry events as well as events that engage multiple art forms with environmentalism.
Born in Norfolk in 1978 Matt grew up in Hethersett and Wymondham, playing out in that narrow gap between settlements and agri-business which allows imagination growing space. He now lives in Norwich where he works for the RSPB.
His poems have appeared in The Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The Rialto and New Statesman. His first pamphlet The Organ Box was published in 2014 and his debut collection Gall was published in 2018.
Gall was shortlisted for the 2019 Seamus Heaney Centre First Collection Prize and won the 2018 East Anglian Book Award for Poetry.
Matt is also an editor and events programmer. He co-founded The RSPB and The Rialto Nature and Place Poetry Competition in 2011 and was co-editor of Magma 72 – The Climate Change Issue.
He is a steering group member of New Networks for Nature, an eco-organisation comprising a broad alliance of creators working to assert the central importance of landscape and nature in our cultural life.
He has worked as a poet in schools with Waveney and Blyth Arts’ Famous Five Birds project in 2013 and with The Wordsworth Trust in 2019. He has been poet in residence for the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and also the Wordsworth Trust. Since 2018 he has been a Trustee of The Rialto.
Lines of migration
He received an Arts Council Developing Your Creative Practice award in 2019 to work towards his second collection of poems and to develop Lines of Migration, an innovative international poetry translation project that will map the poetry of nature and place across borders.
Lines of Migration is a poetry translation project that aims to bring together poets and poems, both contemporary and from the past, that engage with nature and place.
There is a rich tradition of such poetry in English. Lines of Migration is seeking this poetry in other languages across borders and will work to present it to readers of English. This will encourage understanding of the international context for such creativity.
The embarkation point for the project is to think along bird migration flyways. Poetry originated in the UK is full of representations of migratory species; for example, swift, swallow and cuckoo etc. Whilst such birds occur across Europe in spring and summer, they spend the other half of the year in passage and wintering in Africa.
By starting with the migration of birds, further connections will be made to the full range of habitats and all their species of flora and fauna, opening a much broader view of nature and place in the poetry of other cultures.
The ambition of the project is to enrich a shared understanding of what the more-than-human world means to us all, how it makes us feel and think and how we act and might come to act.
I am seeking collaborations primarily with poets but also with writers and artists working in all forms as well as scientists, to help me research and map these representations to then develop a body of poetry in English.
Lines of Migration is run by Matt Howard, generously funded by the Arts Council through their Developing Your Creative Practice fund.
Get in touch
I would love to hear from you with any and all suggestions of poems and poets working in other languages who might be suitable for the project. Please email me here. You can also join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.