My Creative Life
Poetry, Piano and Puerility – Matt Lever’s Creative Inspirations
The chief creative officer at BMB shares what keeps his perspectives fresh
11 October 2023
I studied English Literature at University, but poetry was never really my bag. I ‘wandered lonely’, but it tended to be more ‘to a local Wetherspoons’ than ‘as a cloud’. But I’ve had a bit of an awakening to all things versey of late, via an unlikely source – the poetry podcast of Frank Skinner. Now, I’d heard Frank do a lot of jokes over the years about length, but they were rarely of the metrical variety. So I was surprised to find that he’s recorded 60 episodes of a show where he deconstructs famous poems. He basically comes across like the best English teacher ever. Passionate, vivid interpretations that make me want to scour local charity shops and car boot sales for dusty anthologies. And then actually bother to read them (rather than just leaving them on the floor by the bed for six months until I get shouted at). I appreciate that this might sound a bit random, but check it out – it’ll really get you thinking about what you’re writing - you’ll analyse the post copy on your next Instagram carousel like you’ve never analysed Instagram carousel post copy before…
1/1Frank Skinner's Poetry Podcast
I started piano lessons as a 6-year-old in the 1980s, with an elderly lady who lived about 100 yards from the house (our house I mean, she obviously lived 0 yards from her house). I was making extraordinarily great progress when, after 4 lessons, aforementioned pensioner sadly went on tour to the big concert hall in the sky.
There wasn’t an abundance of local music teachers in Yeovil (which might explain the lack of megastar artistes from Somerset, The Wurzels notwithstanding) so, sadly, my ivories remained untinkled for the best part of 40 years, until I started encouraging (forced) my girls to start piano lessons and thought I’d give it a go, too (Midlife crisis? Possibly).
I’m still utterly rubbish but it’s been a revelation. Not just because it’s a brilliant instrument but because it’s made me realise something that’s been profoundly helpful to my creative process. Because piano’s so bloody hard, you really can’t think about anything else while you’re playing it. I’ve always struggled to not think about creative briefs at every moment of the day and night, so finding hobbies where you literally can’t think about anything else is an amazing way to leave something for a period of time, turn your brain off to it and then return to it afresh. It’s like resetting your phone but for your brain, just with a soundtrack of (frankly terrible) Chopin.
If you’re a creative, find something to do that prevents your brain from thinking about briefs and you’ll come back to them renewed and with a completely fresh perspective.
1/1Matt and his girls at the piano
I’ve never been a big fan of Twitter. And I’m yet to be able to keep a straight face when I say the name “X”. Nevertheless, I’ve been pulled back towards that cesspool of social media, via a mild obsession with Fesshole, which has had me laughing loudly on the downstairs loo for the last few months.
The anonymous confessions of random people are something to behold and testament to the idea that the truth is stranger than fiction. Weird rituals, pedantic marital consternation, ‘romantic’ mishaps, it’s all there – reminding us creative types that the general public are completely and utterly batshit.
Fesshole also has a million followers, so it’s clearly of as much interest to people as those vacuous-ex-Love-Island-influencer-types (and with a better turn of phrase). But what it really says to me, creatively, is that as an industry we’d be far more engaging if we were a bit weirder and funnier, like the people we’re talking to. And that’s inspiring.
Matt Lever is the Chief Creative Officer at BMB