Monday 29 April 2024

The Bluejay’s Dividend

Several years ago I was staying in a cabin on Cape Cod working on poems that were eventually published in Hide Songs. While there I went running in the woods and became quite lost, ending up down by the Atlantic shoreline. The idea for this poem began to formulate but wasn’t completed until recently. 
As it is a metrical,  rhyming poem I thought it would be fun to create some music to go with it - and here is the result.


Saturday 20 January 2024

Reading in Florida!

I currently present a weekly poetry and music radio show which is broadcast by Sandcastle Radio based in Pensacola, Florida. 

They’re having a mini festival called Radio Is Not Dead (RIND) the first weekend in February and I’m flying over from the UK to do my show live, playing music and reading some poetry. I’ll be joined by two local poets, Mary Gutierrez and Debra Stogner who will chat with me about their work and read a few poems. 

This takes place in the Gordon Community Arts Centre, 306 N De Villiers St, Pensacola, FL 32501 on Saturday, the 3rd of February between 1pm and 3 pm. Free entry. 

I’m also doing a reading in the Open Books Bookstore at 1040 N. Guillemard St., Pensacola, on Tuesday 6th February at 5pm. Free entry. 

So if you happen to be near North West Florida - or know anyone who is - come along and say hello!

Thursday 23 November 2023

The Dusts

 I was pleased to see this poem published as Front Page Feature at the Open Arts Forum recently. 

I wonder if dusty libraries are becoming a thing of the past? I know my son scoffed at my requirement for more book shelves  when we moved house recently. “Why do you need all those books? You can get everything online digitally” he remarked. I’m not sure about that myself. One of my favourite books is an old natural history guide with information bordering on mythological - not so much fact as animal rumour!

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Burning Barrels

The 5th November, Bonfire night (or Guy Fawkes night as we used to call it when I was a kid),  came and went last week with a return to usual pre-Covid activities - including the resumption of the ancient Burning Barrels tradition in Ottery St Mary. 

Filmmaker Danny Cooke created this beautiful short film for which I wrote this poem. It was good to see it selected by Dave Bonta for his Moving Poems website:

Saturday 2 September 2023

September gigs

September is here, season of mellow fruitfulness etc. Season of gigs too it seems.

Wednesday 6th September 7.30pm,  I’ll be reading from Grace Notes and playing music with Andy Brown and The Hot Club of Stonehouse at Ashburton Arts Centre.

Friday 22nd September 7.30pm, Andy Brown and I are delighted to be reading from Grace Notes and playing songs at the prestigious Budleigh Literary Festival. Google for ticket info. (£10 I believe). 

Thursday 28th September 8.00pm I’ll be performing for The Word Cafe at the Barrelhouse in Totnes. 

Please come and say hello! 

Wednesday 24 May 2023

The Great Estate Festival

Looking forward to performing a solo show at the fabulous Great Estate Festival in Cornwall

Thursday 23 March 2023

Upcoming readings and gigs

Spring is here and with it a return to performing. 

I’m very much looking forward to getting out, reading some work and meeting a few people, so if you can make it along to any of these, it would be lovely to see you.

More information on individual events can usually be found on the web or you can message me for details.

March 23rd, 7.30pm - Andy Brown and I will be launching our new collaboration Grace Notes at Plymouth Proprietary Library.

March 31st to April 2nd - I’ll be hosting and MCing at Teignmouth Poetry Festival.

April 23rd to 29th - writing residency in Brittany, France.

May 3rd, Exeter University - final details tbc

May 8th, 8pm - Andy Brown and I will be launching our new collaboration Grace Notes at Poets and Pints, The Barrelhouse, Totnes.

May 13th 7pm - musical gig at The BK Lounge, Budleigh Salterton.

June 2nd 2.30pm - The Great Estate Festival, Scorrier, Cornwall.

June 24th - running an all day workshop for Moor Poets with Professor Andy Brown. 

July 7th - The Quaker Meeting House, Exeter 

August 12th - Book launch at The Wild Goose, Combeinteignhead

September 6th 8pm - Ashburton Arts Centre, poetry & music with Andy Brown 

Sept. 22nd 7.30pm - Budleigh Literary Festival,  poetry & music with Andy Brown

Thursday 23 February 2023

NEW BOOK! Grace Notes and Other Poems

 I’m really delighted to have a new collection published this month (February 2023) by Sea Crow Press.

This is my second collaboration with Andy Brown, well-known poet and professor of creative writing at Exeter university, who, like me, is also a musician.

Grace Notes is a collection of music related poems and draws on our musical experiences and influences - from artists we love and gigs we’ve enjoyed to more philosophical considerations of the nature and role of music in human life.

The wonderful cover painting is by Jenn Zed.

Now available from all good book shops, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones and as an e-book.

"From the intimacy of a pub singalong or an epiphany in a guitar shop, to virtuosic frenzy or the majesty of a symphony, Grace Notes is endlessly inventive, clever and heartfelt. What I love about this book is that it’s so friendly and inviting you hardly notice it playing your heartstrings or lighting up your brain like a mixing desk, and before you know it you’re part of its score. Touched and ruined by genius or calloused from a punishing practice regimen, its players are hard-bitten, ecstatic and singular. But like music, it’s for everyone: study and intuition; you can just tap your foot, or you can dedicate your whole mind and soul to it.”  - LUKE KENNARD 

Friday 16 December 2022

The Marco Radio Show

I’m now scheduling and presenting an hour long poetry and music show on the internet via Sandcastle Radio, who aim to be ‘America’s hottest online music and variety show!’

It’s a very pleasant challenge, I get to share some poems I love by various authors as well as a few of my own pieces, and play some of my favourite music. 

I’ll even be asking listeners to send me some of their own work along the lines of a theme set each week.

We’ll see how it goes but I’m pretty excited about the project - we’re three shows in already and getting great responses! 

So please join me for my live show on Sundays at 6pm in the UK  (1pm EST in the US).

I’m afraid if you don’t catch it live there is no repeat - so put a date in your diary/phone etc…

Friday 4 November 2022

Review in Acumen Literary Journal 9/22

Very pleased to see this review in Acumen’s September issue:

Acumen - Poetry Comment - September 2022

Shaking the Persimmon Tree is an attractively produced collection of poems by Devon poet Marc Woodward published by Cape Cod publisher Sea Crow Press. Those who know the poet will catch the poignancy of the title – it is taken from his poem ‘The Boar’, one of several in the book which reference the poet’s early onset of Parkinson’s Disease. In context, ‘The Boar’ is a very moving poem. Here are its final stanzas:

That shape though: the bulk of a boar,
of a high and hump-backed hill,
of a stoop-shouldered sky,
awful in its absence and presence –
that shape is waiting for me,

aware one day I’ll have no choice
but to push into the shadows
and find the beast shaking
at a persimmon tree
knowing the fruit must surely fall.

In similar vein, ‘The Ribbon’ expresses the poet’s thoughts on discovering in a box a small purple silk sports ribbon. He wonders what he won the ribbon for:

But perhaps it was the three legged race?
Maybe I was hobbled and tethered
to another, a stronger person
who pulled me to the finishing tape?
I place the stuff back in the box –
not ready to burn it quite yet –
as my wife, steady handed as always,
crosses the line with two mugs of tea.

The collection contains four fishing poems, presenting what could be seen as four compass points of the poet’s mind. In ‘Fishing with Olivia’, the poet hooks a spring trout and contrasts himself ‘like an old fish’ with young Olivia ‘budding towards your perfect days of June’. In the grim but resigned ‘Fishing for Mahseer’ on ‘the greedy Ganges’, a friend casts ‘a pink flesh fly’ into the froth surrounding a floating corpse and fishes for ‘fish which fed upon the dead’. In ‘Faiths’, seagulls, ‘slaves to faith’, are snagged on baited hooks, ‘cruelty ... laid along the sea wall’, and a note of real anger has set in. Finally, in ‘The Thread’, a female figure casts her line out beyond the breakers only to hook ‘the seam where ocean and sky / are stitched lazily together’. The line snags; she ‘reels and reels and reels’, ‘until she’s gone with the sea and / the land and the great cloudy sky / following down into this hole / of her own persistence’. Her whole world has unravelled around her.

Knowing the poet’s physical condition, one goes looking for telling symbols and metaphors. Rain, for example, appears in a number of poems. ‘May the Fifth, 2020’ begins ‘There is no melancholy without rain.’ In ‘Inheritance’, ‘The roof is leaking’ and ‘The rain sings on the iron roof / above the animal shed. / It runs between the crinkles, / down the gutter to the trough.’ In the fine poem ‘Carpe Diem’ written for his parents, ‘rain [was] always around / the corner of the sky, / when we went to clear / out their cottage, / sorting, remembering, / facing their pasts, / and closer, our own.’

As well as a poet, Woodward is an accomplished musician. His poetry is correspondingly neat, practised, highly lyrical. The poems are singing, in a predominantly minor key, but they are a joy to listen to.

The persimmon tree in the east signifies longevity and good luck; we wish both for Marc Woodward.


Thursday 15 September 2022

Budleigh Literary Festival, Quay Words, and Maureen

 I’m honoured to have a poem from my forthcoming collection Grace Notes included in this anthology from Quay Words (in conjunction with Literature South West). It’s an excellent selection of poems and short stories with work from a number of esteemed writers. This evening I attended its launch at the lovely Old Custom House on Exeter quay. 

Yesterday evening saw the start of Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival and I was pleased to read a few poems at one of the opening events. It’s always hard to choose what to read - usually I try to find something topical or seasonal. Nevertheless I often go along with a selection in mind only to change it at the last moment in response to something I’ve just heard. Speaking with other poets I know I’m not alone in doing this. Last night’s event was in a lovely cafe - the Brook Kitchen - which sparked the last minute inclusion of Maureen And The Redeemer from my book Hide Songs. It wasn’t a dreary day in November, no one was ironing, I wasn’t thinking of Rio - but I was in a cafe and I guess that was all I needed.