TEXARKANA — For local writer and English teacher Chad Matthews, finding the right words to capture what's in our souls remains an enduring passion.
Matthews writes poetry, but he also performs it under the name Oh Broken Son! As such, his new book and album of spoken word poems accompanied by music has just landed, and it combines these twin aspects of that passionate calling: a book of prose poems on the one hand, an album of him reading those poems on the other.
Together, the book and album are titled "Rage You Weary Captive."
The album tells the story through spoken word and music, which is produced by Lincoln Davis. "We kind of worked together with that. We wanted it to feel like this film, musically," Matthews said. "We wanted it to feel very cinematic and feel very big and have these big spots."
Matthews also wanted to pair the album with a book that told a story, which includes an extra thousand or so words that lead into the poetry, he explains. "I just wanted this other visual," he said.
Together, there's a visual and auditory experience at play, where someone can hold it in their hands, see something on the page and hear cinematic music and poetry read aloud.
"I just kind of wanted it to fire off on all of these sensory type of things," Matthews said, then referring to a college class where he learned about telling a story through different media. His professor called it "trans-media," he said. It planted the idea in his mind.
"In order to get the whole story you had to have all of these different pieces of media," he said. "That was kind of the heart behind the initial idea."
Another influence was the movie "Hold the Dark," Matthews explains, a film about a woman who loses her son to a wolf. She and a wolf expert then live in a remote Alaskan village, staying in the middle of the wilderness. The expert then heads out to hunt the wolf. Sort of a literary film, he says, it made an impression on the writer.
"The setting of it really reminded me of what I was dealing with at the time. It was very lonely, very cold, very dark, very vast," Matthews said. He wrote the book in December of 2018, then finished the following spring. As a way to manage the emotions he felt, he turned to writing, creating this alternate world.
He recorded much of it on his phone, and after the first poem he wrote, he was more intentional about writing it to be spoken.
"The album really follows essentially this man who wakes up in this Alaskan wilderness, doesn't remember how he got there; he has no idea how he got there. In the beginning, the first track, he's OK, he's kind of fine with it," Matthews said. But as the tracks progress, the character becomes more and more aware of his own brokenness.
"It's kind of all a big metaphor for having to make this decision: are you going to keep being this person or are you going to die to this old person and become somebody new?" Matthews said. The book and album name, thus, recall the idea that we become captives to ourselves.
"Sometimes we have to get kind of angry," Matthews said. We have to rage against making ourselves captive in this way, and make changes.
The collaborative art in the book is from various artists, who came up with images inspired by the poetry. Sometimes the correlation was direct, he said, but often it wasn't. "It was really neat to see all the different images come together and see how they worked," Matthews said.
And as for the poetry, the writer had a style in mind for this book.
"I tried to write a lot of the poetry like traditional music with your stanzas and bridges and choruses. That was kind of the idea, so they could be easily listened to and not just somebody talking for six minutes," Matthews said.
The physical copy of the book will be available soon via retailers like Amazon. The spoken word and music can be streamed or purchased there and at Spotify, Apple Music and other outlets.
(For more info, check out the writer's website at HeyChad.com.)