Poet waxes lyrical - about slugs
Totnes comedian, Wimbledon tennis tournament poet and keen gardener Matt Harvey has a thing about slugs - so he has included a tribute to the slimy 'meandering marauder' in his latest book of poems.
Matt's slug-beating battle plan of choice is the 'pluck and chuck' defence, which solves the immediate problem but may have the effect of transferring it to a neighbour.
But since he has been performing the six-stanza poem he has become horrified by the 'alternative' methods of slug defence in alternative Totnes - which range from slicing and dicing to grinding them into the earth.
"I thought that we were dealing with fluffy Totnes people - but apparently not so fluffy," he said. "People tell me what they do about slugs, and I was quite horrified."
Slug is just one of more than 50 poems which have been collected together for Matt's latest book - Where Earwigs Dare.
It was one of the few that he wrote specifically for the volume, and it became a favourite as he also took on a new interest in growing his own vegetables.
Matt's latest book is his third - if you don't include the four slim volumes that he published himself early on in his poet/comedian career.
The 48-year-old, who spent this summer in the international limelight as the poet in residence at Wimbledon's world famous tennis tournament, will be reading from his collection at the book's launch.
This is due to take place at The Barrel House in Totnes next Wednesday.
Matt has lived in Totnes for almost 30 years since coming to the area to work at a 'psycho-therapeutical' residential community helping 'troubled' people.
He honed his comedy and poetry skills at the regular evening cabarets the residents used to stage - old-fashioned Victorian-style events which grew so popular that they had to be moved to the village hall in Dartington.
"I used to compere them, and it gave me a taste for being at the mic," Matt explained.
He got his big break in 1991 at the Drum Theatre in Plymouth. "I think I went down really well. It helped that my expectations were quite low," he said. "Then they even paid me and gave me a cheque for ?60."
Since then Matt has appeared on radio on numerous occasions, and is a regular on Radio Four's Saturday Live.
He was selected to become the first ever poet in residence for the Wimbledon tournament, which saw him waxing lyrical about every aspect of the game and the players.
"I did about 70 interviews and appearances in two weeks. It was really busy," he said.
He is currently touring village halls across Devon and Somerset, putting on something like ten shows a month.
He is also recording his Wondermentalist Cabaret shows for Radio 4. He has just recorded the first show at Bristol and will be recording a second in Swindon next month.
And then he will be coming 'home' to record a third at the Royal Seven Stars Hotel in Totnes at the end of November.