Hull poet Matt Nicholson is celebrating after completing a 22 date UK tour supporting Matt Abbott, on his show Two Little Ducks. The solo show which attracted critical acclaim at Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, sees Abbott wrestling with his conscience in Referendum Britain. Accounts of his experiences volunteering in the Calais refugee camps are deftly woven into a kitchen sink fiction set in 2008, creating a powerful, political and personal spoken word journey.
Matt Nicholson has been writing in one form or another for over a decade, but it wasn’t until a serious attempt at poetry, particularly performance poetry, that he found his groove. It is through hard work and dedication to his craft, and taking every opportunity that presents itself to further his experience, that he has achieved so much in a relatively small amount of time.
On the release of Matt Nicholson’s second collection, ‘We Are Not All Blessed With A Hat-shaped Head’ (2018) Abbott said the work was “laced with wry wit, playfully sinister, morbidly uplifting, beautifully written.”
During the early years Matt was often to be found somewhere on the M62 traversing the Pennines to some culturally-minded market town in the North, for a five or ten minute slot. In 2017 Matt Nicholson received an invitation – along with two other Hull poets, Vicky Foster and Rob Eunson – to perform at Wakefield Literature Festival. Matt Abbott, a Wakefield poet himself, was in the audience that day and later approached him to do some Yorkshire dates, and our Matt’s first-ever London gig at the Camden People’s Theatre. “From there he kind of took it as a given that I would do the full tour, and I wasn’t going to argue,” says Matt.
From Goole to Glasgow, Wakefield to Ware during October and November, Matt was joined by other support artists on the Two Little Ducks tour: the two main ones being Genevieve L. Walsh from Halifax, and Kirsty Taylor from Bratfud (Bradford). Ever generous – perhaps this is key to his standing in the poetry world – Matt says of his fellow performers: “Gen captures attitudes better than any other poet I know.” As he got to know Kirsty’s work better during the tour he describes himself “falling completely for her narrative, rhythmical, heart-wrenching words.”
Matt is deeply appreciative of the support Abbott has given him since their first meeting in 2015. He says he has learned much during the tour from him in terms of performance, and also what to do and what not to do. For example Abbott chose 22 dates on the tour because a key theme of the show is the number 22 – two little ducks in bingo parlance – but the amount of energy, time and organisation that goes in to achieving that proved to be a huge challenge.
After completing such a mammoth task Matt describes his confidence as having been boosted: “As a writer, as a performer, I’m feeling about a billion times more at home on a stage than I did prior to the tour. I honestly feel like I’ve got nowt to hold me back now.”
Matt Nicholson is published by King’s England Press.