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Matthew Hedley Stoppard

Matthew Hedley Stoppard was born in Derbyshire in 1985. After a brief career as a journalist, he now works as a librarian, and lives in Otley with his wife and two sons.

Recordings of Matthew’s poetry include Insect Eucharist and Other Poems (2012) and the spoken-word album Runt County (2014), both available from Adult Teeth Recordings. On the page, his poetry has appeared in Magma, Iota, Cake, The Morning Star, A Complicated Way of Being Ignored (Grist, 2012) and Holding Your Hand Through Hard Times (Osset Originals, 2014).

Matthew's debut collection of poetry, A Family Behind Glass, was published by Valley Press in 2013, and was included in the Guardian's Readers' Books of the Year. His next publication was Cinema Stories (2015), a collaboration with fellow Leeds-based poet James Nash, celebrating the movie theatres of Leeds, past and present.

His second solo collection, The Garland King, was published in November 2020.


A Family Behind Glass

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A Family Behind Glass is the first collection of poetry by Matthew Hedley Stoppard, painting a vivid picture of a 1990s childhood (complete with miniature waistcoats and rusting swing-sets), then taking us through to the present-day realities of the poet's life as a father to his own family.

With a particularly English literary sensibility, every line crackles with half-forgotten but instantly recognisable characters, images and locations, somehow evoking a nostalgia for the here-and-now - and everything that is 'behind glass', just beyond our reach.

“Uses inventive language and striking imagery ... one of the most arresting poetry collections of the year.”
— John Irving Clarke, The Guardian

“Matthew Hedley Stoppard's poetic voice is truly original and always compelling … He weaves the everyday into wonderfully unravelling works of art. Rarely is humour deployed to tell so much truth.”
— James Nash

“Inventive, acutely observed and often searingly comic ... his subjects are described with a linguistic brio of fizzing lines and images. Buy the collection immediately.”
— Mike Di Placido

Cinema Stories

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Before the Second World War, there were around seventy cinemas operating in Leeds. Now, though some remain open, most of these ‘forgotten temples’ have been repurposed or demolished.

Since 2014, Leeds-based poets James Nash and Matthew Hedley Stoppard have been visiting the sites of legendary picture-houses, and documenting their current status with two inimitable, unmistakable poetic voices – whilst also considering the remarkable shared (yet personal) experience that is cinema-going.

So sit down on a spring-loaded chair, grab some popcorn, and enjoy one of the most original, evocative poetry collections since the invention of technicolour...

Praise for the authors:

“James Nash illuminates, wonderfully, the small details and the large issues of life, love and language. [He writes] magical and memorable poems: poignant yet rich with humour, and underpinned, above all, by a great humanity.”
Sarah Waters

“Matthew Hedley Stoppard uses inventive language and striking imagery ... [he has written] one of the most arresting poetry collections of the year.”
The Guardian

The Garland King

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Matthew Hedley Stoppard’s second collection attempts to create an uncanny space where traditional customs and modern anxieties mix. Here, we find the Garland King cannot shake the inherent sexism of our society; a mummer mismanages his depression after his child is diagnosed with cancer; and Morris Dancers melt in the midst of a climate emergency.

The poems celebrate the rituals of the working and labouring classes, who have had their culture eclipsed by organised religion and politics. The poet explores them by donning bells and decorated bonnets himself, in order to connect with Britain’s heritage and with other countries that have similar customs.

The author says: “If you’ve ever wondered why Morris Dancers look so happy, it’s because you're witnessing a person who is shedding every distraction in their life and only focusing on movements of music and movements of their body that have been carried through centuries. This is what I felt the first time I danced five years ago. Since then I have explored other customs around the country and met people who feel the same way. Folk traditions have featured in poetry before, but I don’t feel previous poets have immersed themselves in them, like a method actor. When you take part in a folk tradition you directly connected to the people who first started them hundreds of years ago. I feel they bear some cultural significance and share similarities with customs in other countries, but have now been overshadowed by elitist notions of Brexit and Empire.”

“Stoppard’s words weave a maypole whirl between grit, imagination, wit and surrealism, in a way which is both deeply relatable and beautifully strange … they do a vital, joyful job in drawing attention to bruised performances of English folk myths, and a working-class masculinity trying to escape its moorings.”
— Kate Fox

The Garland King is singular, exciting, wry and anarchic – working-class history meets modern anxiety. Matthew’s poems upend the everyday and examine what falls from its pockets; to say that he finds poetry in these things would be patronising: the poetry is there all along. The trick’s in knowing how to listen, how to report back. Reader, you’re in safe hands.”
— Helen Mort

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