Matt Black and Phil Bowen
Great Torrington Bus Project

As part of the Torrington Revels and Commons Fair, poets Matt Black and Phil Bowen rode a bus for twelve days, reading and creating poems with the customers on board in a project called 'Just the Ticket'. They also participated in a Flighting Contest, in which a poet in each corner of a stage threw one-line poetry at each other trying to outdo the other. Finally, they read their poetry at a more formal evening at RHS Garden Rosemoor.

Matt Black

Matt Black is a poetry activist in Sheffield, writing and performing since 1986, running a monthly poetry venue, poetry slams in schools, a writers resource centre, and work as Course Director, Creative Writing, University of Sheffield. His publications include In the Kitchen With the Candlestick and Squeezing Lemons. He has participated in over 500 public performances including Cheltenham Festival, Ledbury Festival, Sheffield Festival, Chester Festival, pubs, clubs, and weddings. Broadcasts include Radio Sheffield; Radio Oxford; Radio Gloucester; BBC Midlands; 'Today'; 'Pebble Mill at One'; and BBC South-West.

Phil Bowen

Phil Bowen was born in Liverpool in 1949. His collections of poetry include: The Professor's Boots Variety's Hammer (Stride), selected for The Forward Book of Poetry – 1998 and Starfly published by Stride in 2004. His New and Selected Poems will be available from Stride in 2007.

He has also edited two anthologies: Jewels and Binoculars and Things We Said Today; written one biography: A Gallery To Play To; and has devised seven pieces for theatre: A Handful of Rain, The Same Boat, The Other Side Of the Words, Chimney Kids, Anything But Love, Parlez Vous Jig Jig and A Case of the Poet.

Poems that arose from their 'Just the Ticket' project appear below:

Pam Taylor

I'll have to look out the window

Otherwise I will be sick,

I've always been frightened of corners,

Corners that come on you quick.


I had a previous experience

Circling round with a friend,

The journey was so unexpected

We thought it never would end.


We hoped we were going to Plymouth

To see what went on at the Ho,

But instead got stranded on Dartmoor

Where tourists and ponies all go.


We finally found the Citadel,

Its corners, granite not brick;

I've always been frightened of corners,

Corners I never would pick.


Danny Hughes
The Red Bag

Silence is as golden

as a collector's item,

red as a leather bag,

black as its contents,

feverish as a foetid swamp,

a silver shiver

that cuts across

all loss, all sound,


like rain on wet slate.


Phil Bowen and Matt Black
Do Not Sit Lonely On That Empty Ride

(after Dylan Thomas)

Do not sit lonely on that empty ride.

Bus stops should gently fill throughout the day -

Drive, drive along the white light with the guide.


This bus, so full of spirits on your side

That rest so tight they'll never leave nor stray.

Do not sit lonely on that empty ride.


Good drivers steering down the traffic's tide,

Cat's eyes shining as if they mean to say -

Drive, drive along the white light with the guide.


Bad drivers who stop at forks and can't decide

Whether to wait or go or stand and pray.

Do not sit lonely on that empty ride.


Learners near passing and they cannot hide

From any mirrors that they must obey -

Drive, drive along the white light with the guide.


And here on this off-white bus that can't abide

What remains on the road or still to pay.

Do not sit lonely on that empty ride -

Drive, drive along the white light with the guide. 






Young Poets Network