The poems of Matthew Hollis’s debut collection GROUND WATER (Bloodaxe Books, 2004) immerse us in the undercurrents of our lives. Love and loss are buoyed by a house full of milk, an orchard underwater, the laws of walking on water. Rainwater, floodwater, flux – the liquid landscapes which shift relentlessly through the book – threaten and comfort by turns. GROUND WATER is brimming with courage in adversity as well as the promise of renewal, culminating in a powerful sequence about a father’s struggle with terminal illness.
Born in 1971 in Norwich, he now lives in London and is Poetry Editor at Faber & Faber. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 1999. He is co-editor of 101 Poems Against War (Faber, 2003) and Strong Words: Modern Poets on Modern Poetry (Bloodaxe Books, 2000), and editor of the Selected Poems of Edward Thomas (Faber, 2011). Ground Water was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award (the first time for a poetry book), the Whitbread Poetry Award and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. His beautifully written and expertly researched biography, Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas (Faber, 2011), won the Costa Biography Award, the H.W. Fisher Biography Award and a Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction, and was BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and Sunday Times Biography of the Year. In 2016 he published two limited letterpress and hand-made pamphlets, Stones (Incline Press) and East (Clutag Press). For more on GROUND WATER, please see bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/ground-water-767
He was teaching a residential poetry course with Anthony Dunn at Highgreen Manor next door to Bloodaxe’s former Tarset office in the summer of 2007 when we managed to grab him during a break in proceedings to read us the four poems included in Pamela Robertson-Pearce’s film: ‘Wintering’, ‘The Fielder’, ‘And let us say’ and ‘The Sour House’.