The Elephant Tests
Published by Nine Arches Press
The Elephant Tests, the third collection of poems from Matt Merritt, takes sheer delight in the full possibilities of language in this study of birds and natural history, travel, personal and universal memory, and even of the occasional elephant too. In the process, it captures the quiet wonder of the fleeting moments that amaze, puzzle and trouble us.
Eco-poetry and exploration are met perfectly with myths and epiphanies; the wide, wild world outside is precisely spoken for, just a moment before taking flight or merging into dusk. This is poetry unafraid of new territories; Matt Merritt pushes out the boundaries of each poem without ever once losing the humour, grace and gentle melancholy at their heart.
“A poet’s talent follows no maps. Insight, rueful humour and a perfectly tuned ear make Matt Merritt’s The Elephant Tests an exceptional collection, whose poems absorb and startle. Here are elephants, benign or brooding, hares, ‘sharp against the last sun’, humans, who ‘lie and wait for the ceiling rose to bloom’, birds, imagined and real: ‘Rain bird (see also yarrow, yappingale, yaffle)’. Each poem reveals its own richness: ‘and the last thing you see / will be the last thing you ever expected.’”
“I’ve become a pretty ardent Matt Merritt fan in recent years. A more observant and articulate poet is hard to imagine. The Elephant Tests is at least as strong as its two predecessors, whilst also being thematically and stylistically his most ambitious and varied book to date.”
"The Elephant Tests shows a fully mature poet who continues to explore the relationship between verse and his life. Merritt accompanies us on a poetic journey that forces us to reflect on ever-growing uncertainties."
Matthew Stewart, Rogue Strands
"There’s a great variety of tone and style here, though; much wider than is sometimes found in smaller press publications, more than I have room to discuss here – a couple of the Elephant poems, for example, which drew me to this collection, are great fun whilst also using the metaphor to discuss worth and memory. These are poems of acute observation that enjoy playing with language, both sound and meaning, and I very much enjoyed reading them."
Rosemary Badcoe, Antiphon
Matt Merritt is a poet and wildlife journalist. His previous collections are hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica (Nine Arches, 2010), Troy Town (2008) and the pamphlet Making The Most Of The Light (2005). He reviews poetry for Magma, New Walk, Under the Radar and Sphinx, and is co-editor of Poets on Fire. He lives near Leicester.