Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Leaving Switzerland


I’m very pleased to have been shortlisted for the Aesthetica Creative Writing award and published in their annual anthology for this cheery poem. It - or a slightly different earlier version - was also commended for the Acumen prize and first published in that journal. 





Thursday, 3 December 2020

Ottery Dragons

In 2019 West Country film maker Danny Cooke held a competition for poems to accompany his fantastic  video of the ancient tradition of the running of burning tar barrels round Ottery St. Mary on November 5th each year. 

The resultant two videos, one by Jason Butler and one by me were released in 2019 and 2020. I was  pleased to see mine included on Moving Poems - a website devoted to the best video-poems on the web.  You can find more of Danny’s excellent films by visiting his website: https://www.dannycooke.co.uk/ 

Meantime if you need a reminder of what a crowd of people in close proximity to one another and a non-COVID hazard looks like, well here it is:







The Rewilding of Stonelands Farm

 Riptide Journal, the Exeter Uni literary magazine, has themed their 2020 edition around Climate Matters to tie in with a series of seminars taking place virtually this year. I’m honoured they’ve chosen to include my poem The Rewilding of Stonelands Farm in the publication. They also asked if I’d make a video reading to accompany it and to be shown during one of the seminars — so I put this together using photos taken locally in Devon. For some years I’ve taken to photographing fly-tipped sofas and images of rural decay, well a man has to have a hobby doesn’t he? 




See this: 
a red flatbed marooned in slurry.
A perished tyre up on top 
of a rusted Peugeot raised on blocks.
A green trailer laden with sodden logs.
Last night’s storm has passed 
and everything steams 
as if the world is being poached.
A squirrel shuffles hazels, 
clanging the galvanised tin 
of a purposeless shed.
At the island end 
of a waterlogged paddock 
five black heifers wait 
for nothing they can name.
Mystery machinery 
corrodes against stone,
caught by surprise 
when the iron plague came.
On a yellow skip throne 
a one horned quad bike 
rules this junk and rubble kingdom.
Behind a high fence, 
something happened 
the Planners wouldn't like.
A snapped sign says: 
    Private Kee
Nothing moves. I wait 
and nothing moves again.
The Earth is readying itself 
to accept a death, the slow 
disassembly of molecules.
See this: empty pubs, silent schools.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Daffodils in Acumen


 I’m delighted to see my poem Daffodils from The Tin Lodes published in the Autumn 2020 edition of Acumen.Literary Journal 



Monday, 28 September 2020

Book Launch in a COVID window

 In between the easing up of COVID restrictions in the Summer and their reintroduction in September, Andy Brown and I managed to sneak in a couple of ‘socially distanced’ live readings for our new book. 

I think people were delighted to have the opportunity to get out to a live event again, albeit with appropriate safety measures in place. Sadly it looks like a long winter of living rooms ahead...







Wednesday, 12 August 2020

The Tin Lodes goes out in the world



It’s lovely when your book goes out into the world and people send you photos of poems they like being read in cafes and London mews...



 

 

Sunday, 7 June 2020

THE TIN LODES - PUBLICATION


I’m delighted to say The Tin Lodes, a collection of poems written collaboratively with Andy Brown is now published!

We started this project four years ago so it’s really great to have found an excellent and enthusiastic publisher and to see it going out in to the world. Andy and I are both really pleased with the poems we’ve written for this collection - for my part I think there’s some of my best work in here. 

More details on the publishers website: 












Saturday, 6 June 2020

May the Fifth 2020 (There is no melancholy without rain)

The Poetry Archive is a national project to capture on film poets reading their own work written during this turbulent time. 
I’m pleased to say they’ve included me reading May the Fifth - which starts with a nod to Edna St Vincent Millay’s poem ‘What lips my lips have kissed...’ and like that poem is a Petrarchan sonnet. 






There is no melancholy without rain.
Edna’s rain full of ghosts that tap and sigh,
Edward’s wild midnight rain blessing the dead
Hardy’s raindrop ploughing down a carved name -
sadness is only amplified by rain.
Perhaps that’s why this April, hot and dry,
we just nested, watched light tv instead 
of switching on the dreadful news again.

On May the fifth the sunny weather broke. 
It rained from after midnight all the way
till after lunch. I thought of the lives changed
and in me a deeper sympathy woke
for the sorrow of strangers - those who lay
in afternoon bedrooms locked down with rain.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Hide Songs reviewed in The Blue Nib literary journal


Very pleased to see this kind review of Hide Songs in The Blue Nib literary magazine today.

Excerpt:

“In his new collection ‘Hide Songs’, Marc Woodward is the factotum of a gruff, stubbled country of hedgerows, pubs and disrepair...

In poems populated by rescued animals and women, silky transformations, hangovers, fishermen and pub gigs, as well as fifty different ways of describing the changing skies of the West Country, there is always a notable quality of craft...

Like John Burnside’s poetry, Woodward writes gently and concentratedly about things vanishing and uncertain...

I’d strongly recommend this beautifully presented book to anyone” 




.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Lovers in the Elephant Grass

















Sunlight stripes us through the wavering canes 
as we lie breathless and high, listening 
to the frantic insistence of skylarks, 
feeling our hearts recover, pulses slow,
numb to all of time but this one moment, 
wild within the elephant grass raffia,
its thin shadow grid moving across us, 
so if we half close our eyes we flicker
like the final frames of an old film show 
about jailbreak runaways who outwit 
the hounds and strip off in a southern field, 
shedding more arrows than eager Cupid, 
only to find their malnourished  bodies 
tattooed with a sweet and biblical crime.



Delighted to have this piece published in the inaugural edition of the West Review out of California. Well worth checking out - there’s some fine writing in here:

Friday, 1 May 2020

Eels in The Creel - and news

May News:

I’m delighted to have received a commendation in the Acumen International Poetry competition for my poem Leaving Switzerland.
And my poem A Photographic History of Tractors was commended in the local competition at Teignmouth Poetry Festival.

Also my poem Eel Catching was included in an anthology of eel related poetry entitled The Creel from Guillemot Press. I would link here but the book has already sold out. However they asked me to record a reading for them so here’s a video version. Enjoy:


More eel video poems can be found on the Guillemot Press ‘eel fest’ page here:



Eel Catching

A midnight fog lays down the land;
sucks quietly on the ploughed field,
wetly kisses the upturned sod,
whispers from the river mouth
the fetid smell of marsh decay.
The moon and stars, obscured by mist
stare upon other worlds tonight.
Time passes with no sense of motion.
The Earth lies still - except for me,
by the river, waiting for eels.

Now into this brackish reach the tide is running.
Sliding through underwater grass,
current tracers in the blind depth,
I can almost sense them: the eels are coming...
The small bell on the rod end rings,
I strike and take a fat one on -
shiny with slime, a liquid figure of eight.
I haul it to the bank, blackest in the blackness,
thrashing fiercely in the torchlight,
as if in tongues before the priest.

Later, as I walk through the wet grass
knee high by the silent river,
the eel still twists in the plastic bag
flapping briskly at my side.
On the back door step I do the act.
So much dark blood, like thick red oil,
flowing out toward the ground.
Still the eel moves in defiance,
blood without and blood within,
this deathless, lifeless thing.

First published in Otter - new Devon Poetry c.1992



Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Grip


I once met the Obamas visiting the program
the way celebrities do. Clint Eastwood too.
Shutters clicked and when they’d gone
we wondered why they’d bothered coming.

I have to tell you: the Earth is huge,
like nothing anyone has ever seen.
The Space Station - several boosts away
and everything else is prehistory,
remote as pigswill and slurry
in my grandpa’s Virginia farmyard;
the viaticum in rural sick-houses.
Even my wife pursing her lips
to kiss or fret is an undeciphered scrawl
in the dust of a desert cave.

Sure, I could see your house from here
if it wasn’t for the weather
but I’m not looking anymore.
I’ve closed my eyes against the overview
and all I can think is how soft, how perfect,
Michelle Obama’s hands are,
how surprisingly strong her grip.


First published at Visual Verse 2019

Music by Robin Brown and Bill Lusty - search YouTube and Facebook for more of their music: 
The Robin Brown 4