In November 2021, Broken Spine Arts introduced Matthew MC Smith as their inaugural #WriterOfTheMonth. Matthew and ourselves have a long and well-documented history. It could be argued that if it were not for a message, sent from Matthew to myself back during the summer of 2019 which asked if I had ever considered founding my own press, then The Broken Spine would never have come into being. I am so grateful that he planted that seed. Before that, both Paul Robert Mullen and I received prolonged editorial guidance on our most recent chapbook publications from Matthew, my Neon Ghosts and Paul’s disintegration.
Matthew has spent the last three years establishing and fostering an online poetry community on Twitter through his extraordinarily generous work with Black Bough Poetry, a press which is fundamentally designed to lift and boost independent writers. It has been a huge success! Matthew is well known for his altruistic work and for his editorial prowess. However, I felt a little down about this, because in addition to being a kind, considerate and charitable editor, Matthew is a fantastic poet. Indeed, when I was putting together a list of people I wanted to feature as #WriterOfTheMonth, Matthew was at the top of that list. I wanted to recognise this side of Matthew.
It has been a roaring success and Matthew has regularly checked in with us, offering his appreciation for our efforts. Yet, toward the end of week three Matthew could stop himself from making the following suggestion, ‘Why don’t you open your submissions for a forty-eight-hour window this weekend? I’ll read the winning three poems with a personal message on video, and they can also be fast-tracked into the next Artist Collective.’ I must say that I was astounded by this gesture. November was supposed to be about Matthew the writer, but Matthew the writer and Matthew the editor are inextricably linked.
We pressed go on this project and received in excess of a hundred submissions. The quality of the work is enormously high and the calibre of the writers who were drawn to this project, which asked for original, ten-line poems was mind-blowing. As such, Matthew and I have gotten our heads together and decided we cannot reasonably reject such a large amount of high-quality work. We needed to find a way of presenting this to the poetry community. Consequently, the decision was made that this ought to become a project in its own right. We explored ways in which we could create a print publication, but in all honesty, this project, given that it came totally out of left field, has no funding. Therefore, we aim to publish the best of the work from this submission window directly on our website under the name of The Angels and Dogs Poetry Project. Poets who submitted will be contacted directly and decisions will be made in the coming weeks.