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


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.


“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:

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

No, This is not Sierva Maria

(after ‘Of Love and Other Demons’ Gabriel Marquez)

Workmen dropped shovels and crossed themselves 
when her remains were revealed. That dress -
but most of all the astonishing hair,
copper coloured, more than two metres long.
They whispered of hair growing in the grave.

Supernatural tales are the best, of course,
for reinforcing God, scaring children.
I’m very old now (you may think too old 
to be true) - as a child I knew this girl
before she was exorcised -loved- to death.

If Sierva had her own demons
(not just those assigned to her, sotto voce, 
in the chatter of indolent priests
in purgatorial coffee bars),
I never saw any evidence.

I don’t recall her with lidded eyes,
smoking marijuana, defiant, 
resigned to the mad dog in the market -
yet that’s the way she’s painted here.
Naturally with her famous hair unbound.

You might ask me about her parents 
and how God allows such degenerates, 
mere simulacra of humanity, 
to hold cards they would burn rather than play. 
Perhaps it’s the chanting from the convent,

the corrupting heat, but more likely 
apathy inherent to lack of need.
I cannot confirm. All I can tell you
is most representations are fluid
and sometimes it is right to fear water.

An ekphrastic response to this image at Visual Verse:

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


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 granpa’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

Thursday, 19 December 2019

News 19/12/19

Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year!

I’m afraid I've been rather remiss in keeping my blog up to date during 2019...

In addition to the posts below I'm pleased to have had several poems included in Riptide Journal (the Exeter University literary magazine) as well as poetry in Prole, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Deckhand, Glossophilia, Visual Verse, Atrium, and accepted for the January 2020 edition of The Blue Nib.

I was also especially pleased to see my old poem Beyond Broadwoodwidger included in the 'For The Silent' anthology from Indigo Dreams Publications in aid of the League Against Cruel Sports - where it was rubbing shoulders with work by Hardy, Hughes, Armitage and Oswald amongst others...

Finally, here's a reading of my poem The Boar, published in Riptide. Like my poem Rakinewis below,  the photos were taken in beautiful Abruzzo, around the scene of the near encounter.
Part boar part Parkinson's...

The Boar

Beyond the garden boundary,
past the halo of the terrace lights,
the undergrowth is shaking
to the soft grunts of a cinghiale.
I can’t see him but I know he’s there.

Along the night-sweat lane
near the house with the rusted vines
big white dogs are sounding off,
barking their ignorance
into the night, over and over.

I could walk out in the grass
to the edge of the rustling dark,
sure the boar would batter away
wary of my man-stink
and the shotgun I might carry.

But we play this stand off,
me here, the boar in the bushes,
for we each know our place
and no good thing can come
from forcing a meeting.

And what if it isn't a boar
rattling unseen in the canes?
Perhaps it’s something else
pulling down the green leaves,
tearing up the teeming soil?

So I stay by the moth-speckled lights
for fear of unknowable things -
not the bristly pig in the bush
with his pinhole eyes, rooty tusks,
stupidly dainty on cloven heels.

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.

Beach Huts

Pleased to see my sonnet Beach Huts published rather aptly at Writing at the Beach Hut.

This poem is included in the forthcoming collection The Tin Lodes written in collaboration with renowned poet Andy Brown.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Rakinewis (for the ruination of Palmyra and after P.B. Shelley)

This poem was recently the Front Page Featured work at Open Arts Forum

His shroud was campion in May;
a king's cape of crocus in November.
Curled olive roots held him in the afterlife
like the fingers of forgotten gods.
For two and a half millennia
blinking skies cycled over him -
until a contadino’s plough tipped his hat
and he was exhumed for wonder.

When we first met he was standing
bright and alone in a cold mausoleum,
arms across his sword and belly
as if shivering - plucked from his bed -
his shadow cast upon cream walls.

        I’m not of this place, this cave
        is not my necropolis - free me,
        take me back to Picenum,
        lay me under the stony soil
        so I may hear again the soft

        spiking of rain on the grass,
        feel the bulbs questing in Spring,
        hear my woodpeckers calling.

At dawn we drove in a hired Mercedes,
him gazing out at the new world
laid like a loose flag on the Abruzzi hills.
I recounted the Hellenic period,
the Romans, the Social Wars, The Empire,
Christ and the Popes, The Internecine wars,
the Twentieth Century. It took a while.

        Could I have been king of all this - 'King of Kings'?

From the old stone town of Capestrano
we looked to the ruins of Rocca Calascio,
circled by jackdaws and hooded crows
A thousand years weather beaten
- and all of it startling and new to him.
Below us a tractor scratched the soil
beside a black hectare of solar panels.

        See how the Greeks left, Rome fell?
        Nothing has remained unchallenged

        for as long as I ruled my dark grave,
        humming quietly to the beat of the sun,
        the business of earth worms.
        Where am I safest? Below the loyal soil
        rolling with the terremoti,
        or standing bold in lime light
        exposed to the motives of terror,
        the certainty of political change:
        invaders with their own gods,
        who may not care for an old stone king?

But both of us knew everything had changed.
His necropolis scattered, his sleep broken.
We drove in silence to the Campo Imperatore
where the lone and level plain stretched far away
before turning back to the foothills.
I promised to bring him campion in May
and a regal fist of crocuses in November.

         Ah, and when you're gone, who'll bring me flowers then?

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

NEW BOOK! The Tin Lodes - due for publication in 2020

I'm delighted to announce that Indigo Dreams Press (IDP) will be publishing a new full collection 'The Tin Lodes' in 2020.

This is a book written in collaboration with my good friend Andy Brown. Andy is an excellent and well known poet, the author of around 14 collections (soon to be fifteen!), and professor of Creative Writing at Exeter University.

One of Andy's collections is Goose Music (Salt 2011) written as a collaboration with renowned poet John Burnside and we have collaborated in a similar manner. That is to say each of us would write a poem, send it to the other, critique and discuss it, and then write a response.
Although each poem is fundamentally the work of one or other of us they are published anonymously - the purpose being not so much to create a guessing game of 'who wrote that one?' but to ensure the book has a smooth flow and sense of cohesion.

The collection explores the ecology, archaeology and human presence in the English West Country where we both live. However the focus then expands out to put the human element inside a global context.

We're both really looking forward to the book coming out and are excited about doing readings from it - wherever we're invited!

And of course, we're excited to be working with Indigo Dreams who are a leading publisher of poetry with a stable of fine writers. Our thanks go out to Ronnie and Dawn at IDP for choosing to publish The Tin Lodes.

Watch this space for announcements regarding release date - but in the meantime if you're a literary festival or poetry association and would like to book us for a reading or talk in the second half of 2020 please contact me directly at