12NOW: Matthew Rice

matthew-riceMatthew Rice was born in Belfast in 1980.  He now lives and works in Carrickfergus, County Antrim.  He is currently studying for his BA Honours in English Language and Literature. Rice has published poems in magazines and journals on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Asheville Poetry Review and The Honest Ulsterman.

He was one of six new poets showcased in a special reading organised by Poetry NI and Poetry Ireland.  His work was chosen for the 2016 Community Arts Partnership anthology, Connections, funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.  He was long-listed for the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2016.

His work deals with themes such as loss, land, death, life, childhood, memory, the political landscape, and the everyday.  His poetry also contains historical elements, and draws on the mythological to filter contemporary concerns, attempting to bring them into sharper focus.

Matthew is studying for his BA (Honours) in English Language & Literature and is currently assembling his first collection of poems.  He lives in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, and has recently been selected for Eyewear Publishing‘s Best New British & Irish Poets 2017.


This morning I could taste blood
in my mouth. Toothpaste,
I thought, or the flavour
of the freshly risen.

But when I spat
my spit was valentine red,
landing on the ground like a surprise,
throwing me off guard.

I spat again
and once more the watery
warning sign slap-landed
on the pavement.

I thought of Keats,
coming home late that night with curdling lungs.
Then the image of bed-sheets
drenched in claret,

soaking in the kitchen sink.
I spat again and again,
and each time the spit
became more and more orange,

like the sunrise, I thought, strangely.
Though I could feel no sickness
in my body, I struggled to still
the butterflies, and it made me wonder

how young John Keats
must have felt,
first feeling the saliva rise
in his mouth,

raising a hand up to signal
pardon to a friend,
spitting love’s colour
on to lush green blades.

The Break-Up

Hindsight is the comet lander,
‘Philae’, sent up in 2004 to land
on the icy dirt-ball

that fell silent 60 hours after being dropped,
the battery gone flat, Rosetta beaming back
images taking 2 years to reach Earth,
acquired from a distance of

a hand-in-hand Sunday afternoon stroll,
to reveal the little robot wedged
against a large over-hang, lying
on its side, glossed thick in ice,

a leg sticking straight up,
and all the more lost for being found.