Matthew Munson: The dreaded lurgy and getting to grips with poetry

Matthew and Bryan

I vehemently dislike being ill. Worse than that is seeing my family ill, and it’s been hard this last week to see Bryan unwell. Suffice to say that he’s better now, and I had some good advice from the GPs who work up at QEQM Hospital, as well as his school’s nurse (yes, they actually have a nurse, and that’s brilliant).

It’s been lovely to see Bryan recover, and bounce back with full energy. The pride I have for this boy is amazing, and I’m forever glad I had the opportunity to become a father. I look back over the last five years, and see how much we’ve packed in; holidays, Christmases, friends, and (whisper it) a pandemic.

The pandemic was horrible for all of us, that much is certain, and stressful in so many ways. But it also meant I got to spend time with my son, and the abiding memories I carry with me are of sunny days where we had a quality hour in the park. No matter where we find ourselves in the future, those beautiful moments are so very precious to me.

I’ve started this week’s column in something of a reflective mood, and I’m not sure why. I’ve just been trying to write some poetry for my university course and, if I’m being honest, it’s hard going. A poet I am not, and I doubt I ever will be – it’s like wading through treacle that’s very quickly setting.

There are six modules in an average year at university but, because I’m part-time, I’m doing three per year. I therefore did two before Christmas, and now I’m doing one. The lecturer is passionate and interesting about the topic, and I can very much see that she’s good at what she does – but I suspect I shall be one of her students who doesn’t have a natural skill.

As I’m just doing one module this semester, poetry is the all-consuming creative work for me right now, and I don’t think I’m being that creative. That said, I’ve surprised myself by managing to create some work on each week’s type of poem. I hadn’t realised that there were so many types, if I’m honest, but that’s at least part of what this module is about – to broaden our knowledge of poetry.

But one thing I’ve thought about today is the work I produced in the first two modules of the course. My lecturers gave me some really good feedback for the pieces of fiction and had inspired me to work on them at some point. I’ve realised that this is the time for me to be creative with these short stories and improve them, based on the feedback from my lecturers. I don’t know what I’ll do with the stories yet – perhaps I’ll try to sell them, or perhaps I’ll just publish them online, but I’d like to share them somehow. That’s something for me to think about later on when I’ve completed some rewrites.

That excites me, and it’s given me a focus to concentrate on beyond the module I’m formally studying. I might be finding it hard, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be creative with other work as well. Poetry is tough for me, but story fiction is something that always excites me, in the same way that dance excites my son.

This weekend is something of a relaxed one for us. We’d briefly thought about going to buy a Lego set that Bryan’s been saving for, but he’s decided to carry on saving instead – who am I to argue with that? So we’re going to take it slow this weekend, playing some board games at Board at Home in Ramsgate (please support this brilliant local business) and potter … just potter for a while. But also, my creativity seems to be returning, and I’m looking forward to putting it to good use.


  1. I struggled with Poetry when doing an Arts course.
    To my mind, if it’s not Iambic Pentameter or Rhyming Couplets, it’s not poetry. Except that Tennyson’s “Hiwatha” is.
    You can keep your Japanese Haiku, and Ted Hughes leaves me bewildered.

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