Friday, February 28, 2014

Vale Matthew John Davies (1985-2014)

It was with great sadness that Bluepepper recently learnt of the untimely death of Matthew John Davies, a frequent contributor to this site and an extremely gifted poet. Below are a few words penned by the poet Robbie Coburn in Matthew's honour.

Matthew John Davies sadly passed away this month.
Born in 1985, Matthew was a Brisbane poet who was published in many journals including Rabbit, Page Seventeen, Regime Magazine, Bluepepper. He was educated at the University of Queensland. His favorite poets included William Blake and Francis Webb and he adored Leonard Cohen. He also had a keen interest and knowledge of cinema. 
I first became aware of Matthew's work when we shared the pages of the first issue of West Australian magazine, Regime in 2011.
Revisiting his work now is difficult, as so many signs present themselves. His poetry has a raw and haunting quality, filled with longing, yet he would often remove himself from the text as if writing about someone else. 
On the night I heard of his death last week, I read through all of his poetry I could find, and felt the devastation of it all. There was a prevailing feeling of emptiness within me that uprooted any notion of understanding and amplified the shock and Grief. 
His poem 'Shortcuts' is one that encapsulates the trial of a life clouded by an unrelenting darkness, discussing attempts at positive change, culminating with the character's death in order to 'find a heaven'.

I was aware Matthew was struggling and depression was a battle he was fighting uphill, but was shocked when the news came through of his passing. It's not something any of us wanted to predict. Most of the poetry community, the connections of which exist largely online, only knew parts of Matthew, and it is harder to accept when we only see a poet who is with us one day and gone the next. We feel we know the poet, but in fact only know parts of the man. 
Matthew's parents have stated since his death that "his poetry and the friendships of his fellow poets  sustained him" and it is clear his short life was one of significance to many people all over Australia.
He lived for poetry as so many of us do, and his life was rich with his art and love for those who influenced and loved him.
The widespread outpours of love for Matt are astounding, with so Many of us moved and effected. So many poets and writers have expressed their sadness and condolences and we come to realize matt was never alone in life and certainly isn't alone now that he has left. Many poets have written poems in Matthew's memory.
We still have Matthew, who exists through his work and the memories his loved ones hold of him.
Bob Adamson told me something regarding the situation, as we shared our grief, that has stayed with me and helped to heal immensely. I told him how pointless everything felt and he Said that " It's not pointless, it's up to us to keep alive his lovely spirit and his work, that's his legacy and his love.  As long as we have him in our minds and hearts he will live on."
Bob is absolutely right and I think these words apply to everyone looking for answers and closure during this difficult time and beyond.

It serves no good to remember only the hell that claimed him; we instead can rejoice as Matthew John Davies has found his heaven and is now eternally breathing poetry in paradise.

- Robbie Coburn

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