Matt Abbott: Nationwide advert
September 20, 2016
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Pay attention, because I am going to explain to you why I think Matt Abbott is a literary genius.
Before you start, I have two technical criticisms of this piece, which is an advertisement for Nationwide Building Society. The first is that the D-alliteration is overdone in the first two stanzas. The second is that the image of the roast dinner, used both literally and as a metaphor, over-simplifies and idealises familial relations. I come from a family which ate a huge number of roast dinners, with all the elements, including the gravy, cooked from first principles, but the members of that family mostly disliked each other.
Be that as it may.
I will now give you five reasons why Matt Abbott is a literary genius.
- He got on television, at the age of 26, in his capacity as a poet, reciting his own work. John Cooper Clarke did a voiceover for McCain chips, but the material he had to do was about chips, and there was no image of him on the screen. This is Matt Abbott, in person, reciting a poem he could recite at any of his live readings. It is worth bearing in mind that most of Matt’s audiences are people who regard Jeremy Corbyn as being on the centre-right.
- The manner of his delivery is in harmony with the material. I go to a great many live poetry events, and I see people with good material and poor delivery, and other people with good delivery and poor material. It is rare that I see someone with the delivery and the material in such harmonious balance.
- He has his audience in mind, but still speaks in his own voice. It is difficult to express this point without repeating point 1, above. His poetry is miles better than the doggerel we usually get on advertisements. Yes, it rhymes, but when was the last time you heard the word, “examine” rhymed with the word, “famine”? I am sick of hearing myself telling other members of the Black Horse Poets not to use two-syllable rhymes, unless they want to produce a comic effect. Matt Abbott uses a two-syllable rhyme by breaking the rules. As Kurt Vonnegut said, every great writer breaks all the rules, except the first one: use the time of a perfect stranger in such a way that he or she will not consider it to have been wasted.
- It is a good poem. It passes all of my standard tests of poetry. 1. What voice is speaking? 2. What is this voice talking about? 3. Why might this be important? He passes all those with flying colours. He is also commendably concise.
- He is, along with Rob Reed, supporting me at Cluntergate Community Centre on Saturday 1 October. The performance starts at 7:30pm, and tickets are available from: http://www.wakefieldlitfest.org.uk/events/226-throwing-mother-in-the-skip
Now that I have established that Matt Abbott is a literary genius, I need you to join me in the campaign to INSURE THE HAIR.