Off and Running

At the start of this school year, Moses Brown track coach Matty Bennett joined the upper school faculty as a full-time English teacher — and published his first book of poetry the same week he was hired.

Matty claimed a classroom in the corner of the East Wing English corridor and is excited to find a welcome at a school that brings noted poets to campus each spring in MB’s long-running annual spring poetry series, such as Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith in 2018.

When he’s not teaching sophomore or junior English, or coaching our varsity cross-country, indoor and outdoor track teams, Matty can most likely be found working on his next series of poems – a process somewhat akin to running. “It’s the law of averages,” he laughs. “I tell my students you won’t run your best race all of the time; sometimes you do better, sometimes you do worse. It’s the same with poetry – you won’t write your best poem every time but if you put in the effort and are committed and dedicated, you’ll see results, as in running.”

Matty’s own path to publication started in his senior year at Syracuse University when a Creative Writing class piqued his interest in the art form, and where his passion for LGBTQ writing and activism blossomed. Next stop was an MFA program at Virginia Tech where he founded and edited the school’s LGBTQ magazine, Interloper. He’s been published in multiple literary journals and on his own bookshelf, you’ll find Frank O’Hara, Heather Christle, Danez Smith, Victoria Chang, and Alex Dimitrov. Matty probably writes poetry five days out of seven and is also working on an LGBTQ YA novel to be published next year.

Matty’s first collection, What Are the Men Writing in the Sugar, published by QueerMojo, has already received high praise in the poetry world, including from Dimitrov, editor of American Poets magazine and the popular online Poem-a-Day series (he calls Matty’s debut collection “romantic and truly accessible”). Matty is happy to see his beloved art form having a bit of a renaissance this year, with the pandemic, Amanda Gorman and the rise of Instagram poetry. You can find his work at Books on the Square and RiffRaff.

We are so pleased to welcome this promising young poet to our learning community this year. See more at @mattykbye.