Death Magazine is a neutropian vision of our soundbite, snippet-obsessed, digital and print magazine culture. It employs the Dadaist technique of cut-up to produce poems that range from the blackly comic to the surreal, from the nonsensical to the prescient.
Many of the poems confine themselves to the precise aesthetics of magazine columns, doing away with line breaks entirely to find new meaning in their Modernist forms. Added to the mix are a range of free verse poems more traditional in form. This monster hybrid of styles, of fact and fiction, aims to replicate the untrustworthy, hyperbolic stream of media that absorbs our lives every day.
This radical work creates a futuristic landscape of human emotion as product – a pink, shattered diamond refracting our chaotic times
1. Do you always take a book/e-reader wherever you go?
I don’t tend to, no – largely because if I’m out and about I much prefer to listen to music. It helps keep the emotional and imaginative aspects of my brain lubricated.
2. Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
I’d be whichever character has the nicest clothes.
3. Where can I find you when you are reading?
In the bath.
4. Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
Probably wasting far too much time on social media. It certainly has a worthwhile side to it, and it’s pretty crucial now in terms of book promotion. But there’s no doubt a lot of time is spent just scrolling and it’s not great for the mental health, so I’m really trying to limit the time I spend doing that.
5. Can you walk past a bookstore without going inside?
If it’s an independent one then I’ll usually pop in for a browse.
6. What are you most proud of?
I’m going to say CRASH – the alternative poetry night I’ve set up with my friend Alex. We have absolutely no money for it, and it’s been entirely subject to the generosity and kindness of others, and yet it’s done so well. Obviously we’ve had to put it on hold with the current situation, but I’m very much looking forward to our return. Our previous nights have been packed out and we’ve had some truly fantastic poets perform for us. I think the reason for that success is that we’ve created quite a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere that appeals to both people with very little knowledge of poetry, as well as those who live and breathe it.
7. What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
When I held Death magazine, my debut collection, for the first time, I sort of wanted to eat it. It has a luscious, vivid pink cover.
8. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t do the same thing twice.
9. Who would you like/have liked to interview?
I think Scott Walker would have been great – he seemed like a very interesting as well as a very humane person. All my favourite artists are like that – creators of boundary-pushing, experimental, extreme work, and yet as people they’re very kind, sensible, grounded. David Lynch is another. It would also be hilarious to interview Grace Jones.
10. When and where do you prefer to write?
I hardly, if ever, sit down and write in a space that allows me to do so. I work and I’m a carer, so I just don’t get the time. I write in snatches – either on my phone, or when I really should be doing something else. Echoing what I mentioned before – I generally tend to spend a good amount of time listening to music, letting images and ideas come to me that way. I sort of fill up the tank with this colourful, moving energy, and then I write off the back of that.
Thank you, Matthew Haigh and Isabelle Kenyon
About the author
Matthew Haigh is a poet, artist and designer from Cardiff. He is a regular contributor to anthologies by Sidekick Books – most recently collaborating with friend and artist Alex Stevens on Battalion and No, Robot, No! They also collaborated on the Tumblr series This Was No Suicide – a reimagining of Murder, She Wrote episodes produced using cut-up poetry and collage. He published a pamphlet, Black Jam, with Broken Sleep Books in 2019.