In this stunning meditative piece of prose poetry, intertwined with beautiful black and white photographs, Matthew Shaw explores the relationship between self and space, effortlessly weaving profound explorations of nature, time, history, spirituality, myth and growth in his ode to the annual cycle of seasons.
It is indeed a masterwork – from the opening majestic image to the closing one. It’s a great flow of words, slowing, gathering pace, surging – as nature does. It provokes thoughts and anxieties, yet there is such joy and tenderness, a balm, ‘a doorway of hope’, with ‘nature more determined than tarmac.’ It is personal and profound, written by a man whose eyes and senses miss very little; would that I could experience all that Matthew Shaw does in his epic ‘Atmosphere of Mona.
Matthew Shaw channels reverse traditions into the future via music/word gnosis, landscape as character/life, and a connection to the heart that is as direct, and spontaneous, as it is unerringly true.
He has turned to reveal but not reversed his language. Previously he spoke through a layered sound of landscape that moved through time. Horizontal drifting, entwining and layering cloud on earth, light on wind, weather as a pulse. Drawing out history as a surface without image, so that we might understand the flow through our listening hearts. That is what Matthew Shaw does in his music. What he is known for. Now he casts individual notes as words. Verticals which he gently demands we pause to taste; seeds, pathways, gateposts and lenses. These poems hold space and breath in a Haiku of moments; the drift of the music cupped, stopping us dead in our tracks. Now the flow and ebb, which he mastered before, watches the singularity of the moment. The stand still to breath in the actual moment. The primal zen of now.
Matthew Shaw is a magnificent voice of the nature spirit as well as the human spirit. He combines beautiful feelings with clear thoughts. I am always inspired by the depth of his powerful poems.
I think what the poems show is attentiveness, open-ness, a sensitivity to possibilities but without tipping over into anything too obviously pantheistic. There is an implied animism, perhaps, but even this might be understood as metaphorical. Reading them is a subtle experience, requiring reflection and, I might put it like this, extrapolation: walking with you just a few steps further on from what the lines actually say.