Tuesday, May 15, 2012

20 Questions: Matt Smythe

Matt Smythe
Matt Smythe's handle is "The Fishing Poet." If you've read any of his stuff, it doesn't take long to realize that the declaration is an apt description of the guy. He's a hell of a writer--underrated, in my opinion. I'm not the only one who thinks so, either--the creators of Pulp Fly have included Matt in the first volume of the e-book, and for those of us who've read it, we're very glad they did.

Matt is, kindly put, something of a dilettante. Take a look at his Facebook page, and you'll see what I mean. In one photo he's tight-lined to a nice trout, and in the next, he's drawing a traditional long bow. He's a hunter and an angler... but it didn't take long for me to notice that's he's, first and foremost, a husband and father.

Cover of GQ?
He's also devilishly good-looking--I couldn't find one picture that made him look the least bit silly, and for those of us with obvious flaws, that's just maddening (the only thing I can think of, though, is that he's almost always in front of a lens operated by Grant Taylor, who is one hell of a shooter). I'm fairly certain that, during his single years, Matt never once needed a wingman. Just sayin'.

But I admire the hell out of Matt. He's one of those guys who could be plugging away in the rat race, raking in a six-figure income among the skyscrapers. Instead, he's opted to slow things down ... to take work as it comes. More importantly, he's opted to share his talents with the rest of us. So, Matt, on behalf of all us greedy fly fishing consumers, thanks for eschewing Madison Avenue and choosing instead to slum with the rest of the gang.

We appreciate it.

On with the questions.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 
Having friends and family over for summer cook-outs. Sun, grilled meat, beers, music and an open pool.

What is your greatest fear? 
Out-living my kids.

"Cool as hell."
Which historical figure do you most identify with? 
I always thought that the early explorers of the West – and their stories – were cool as hell. Jim Bridger would be the cat I identify most with though. He had the wherewithal to lead a rugged, fulfilling existence on his terms and also had the moxie to bring native tribes and whites to the same table when disputes came up.

Which living person do you most admire? 
I admire my parents (I know, that’s more than one). It took me becoming a parent to understand just how much love and effort it took to give my sister and I the childhood we had.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 
I am easily distracted and obsessive at the same time. One totally feeds the other.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? 
Blatant ignorance.

On what occasion do you lie? 
Actually every time the Toothfairy, Easter Bunny or Santa are due to check-in. Or when new fishing or hunting gear mysteriously shows up in the barn.

Which living person do you most despise? 
Not sure if I’d say “despise,” but we’ve got people that write letters to the editor locally that are total dickheads (as a former newspaper editor, I simply offer, "Amen, brother." -ed)

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 
There are a few that I can’t seem to avoid. "Right on" is one. "You know" finds it’s way into my speech far too much. And "no worries" is in constant rotation.

Which talent would you most like to have? 
I would love to be able to play guitar. Acoustic.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
The fact that my kids all love the outdoors. But more importantly, they are thoughtful, respectful and mind their manners when mom and dad aren’t around.

Who are your favorite writers? 
William Stafford
Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes, William Stafford, Marie Howe, Whitman, Jim Harrison. I enjoy the hell out of the Beat poets. Vonnegut, Tim O’Brien, Aldo Leopold, Hemingway, Gordon McQuarrie…

Who are your heroes? 
The guys I’ve met through Project Healing Waters that have made it back from combat, but are still working on getting home.

If you were a pet, what would your name be? 
Digger. Not sure why, but that showed up in my head and every other name I thought about after sucked. It’s damn strong though.

What would your profession be if you couldn’t do what you do now? 
Let’s see…I’ve done freelance construction work, taught college composition, served in the military, sold retail at L.L. Bean, did the stay-at-home-dad thing and performed autopsies (not necessarily in that order). I guess you could say I’m game for whatever.

If there is a Heaven, and you go to Heaven, what would God say to you upon your arrival? 
"It’s about time. Here’s your cup. The keg and cook-out’s out back."

What’s the favorite of all the cars you’ve ever driven? 
I had an ‘89 Mazda B2000 pickup. Dropped, lo-pro’s, bucket seats, cap and custom carpeted bed with 15” Fosgate woofers. Bass drops used to make the windows ripple like water.

Which actor/actress would play you in the movie about your life, and why? 
Jeff Bridges. Voice, chops, look. Plus, dude, he’s The Dude.

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure? 
Dance clubs.

What’s the closest you’ve ever been to dying? 
I was really sick with pneumonia when I was 5 and left my body while my mom carried me across the street from the pediatrician’s office to the hospital. Watched her carry me for about 8 or 10 seconds and came back when she walked through the front doors.

BONUS QUESTON: If you could go back in time, what year would you visit first? 
I’m not sure of the exact year, but I’d go back to the 18th century post-colonial, American Old West. Then I’d head to 1969 for the original Woodstock.


  1. Another nice interview. Glad to meet Matt!

  2. Thanks, Howard. Pleased to be introduced.

  3. Woot! Another Gordon McQuarrie fan! One of my absolute favs

  4. Yea, man! Love the Old Duck Hunter's stories.

  5. Wow, and I thought I had meet the real Matt Smythe... (kidding, but now I know the deep secrets!)

  6. You never know what you'll get from these interviews... that's what makes 'em so much fun. Thanks, Matt, for subjecting yourself to the 20 Questions Challenge... you passed with flying colors!

  7. Ha! Thank you. I feel oddly liberated...

  8. 1- that pickup is sooo $$$
    2- logging in to comment on this article may have been the most difficult thing i've done today
    C- matt's a good dude, with that same laid back intellectual presence as The Dude
    4- good read on a good guy

  9. While my taste in trucks may different just slightly, I'm 100% confident that Matt's the kind of guy I'd enjoy spending some time around a campfire with. Jim Bridger- right on, man.

  10. Went fishing with Matt; he brought over a rug that tied the whole room together.

    1. yea, that rug really did tie the room together.

  11. Nice iView. Would like to fish with Matt someday.

    1. Thanks, Jen. Colorado is on the to-do list...I'll keep you posted.

  12. Great to learn more about you, Matt. Nice work, as always, Chris. I must say, though, autopsies are not on my list of things to do as a profession.