Thursday, 24 March 2022

Shaking The Persimmon Tree reviews

 In these searching, songful poems, Marc Woodward reflects on the ricketiness of life; of the body, and on the certainty of earthworms.   His imagery elevates the natural world to its rightful place; birds, sky and trees glimmer like new-found things­, while his pragmatism puts on its boots, picks up its keys and looks you straight in the eye.'

Helen Ivory, editor of Ink, Sweat & Tears; Bloodaxe Poet.


In this collection, which contains several prize-winning poems, Woodward seeks inspiration from Italy, Switzerland and India as well as places nearer to home. The collection begins and ends with poems set in Italy. Both poems offer memorable views: one from the great outdoors, the other from a hollow tower. In the former we sense the dissipating heat of a summer’s day, where Woodward paints an atmospheric picture of “the sun’s red arc setting on the ridge, / clocking out its daily labour / in the hot factory of summer” in the latter, we feel a cool down draught of air coming through the slit windows of a bell tower.

Plenty of animals inhabit these poems: there are “stag horn beetles”, “scraggy vixens”, “soft-lowing cows”, “stealthy deer” and badgers “stripe-snouting through [a] dahlia bed” to name but a few. The collection teems with trees, tracks and grasses, waterlogged paddocks, old tyres and rusting farm machinery. The descriptions of nature are lush but there is a dark undercurrent here as well: a farm suicide, a fatal road accident, personal loss and bereavement. ‘Dog in the Afternoon’, with its echo of Hemingway (‘Death in the Afternoon’), is a compassionate poem about the demise of an old grey dog which reminds Woodward of the death of the family’s old Dalmatian when he himself was just 12 years old.

In ‘The Hum’ Woodward sets our imagination running with auto-suggestion. Nothing is explicitly stated and yet everything is signalled as a possibility when it comes to the source of the sound. It is six o’clock in the morning and we are in the heart of winter:

 

     … by the front door I pause key in hand.

     I can hear The Hum. Faint, low and constant

     in the quiet of the unbroken dawn.

     Its direction: everywhere – but distant.

 

     A diesel warming up? Or staying warm

     the way idling engines run all night

     on northern driveways gripped by permafrost?

     High echoes from a transatlantic flight?...

 

The poem sets us on edge. It conjures up the atmosphere of a Hitchcock film or a piece of science fiction from the sixties.

‘Jump’ is proof enough that Woodward can coax a poem out of the simplest of occurrences and still make it sing. In it, a man is sitting under a cafĂ© awning when a torrent of rain comes. He knows he has to leave but he does not have his raincoat with him and there is no knowing how long the storm will last. We have all been there, caught out by the unpredictable weather, and so it is something we can readily identify with. But in Woodward’s hands it becomes intense and even more unpredictable:

 

     the glazed river-road, the vulgar torrent,

     the beating heart of thunder.

 

     Come back inside…she smiles,

     taking your hand, afraid you will jump.

 

Two poems that particularly caught my attention were ‘Rakinewis – The Capestrano Warrior’ and ‘Swimming with a Charm of Vincent’. In both cases, Woodward brings these characters, (the latter being Vincent van Gogh) back to life, momentarily, and has conversations with them in the present.

These searching poems, with their carefully crafted descriptions of the natural world, go deep. Philosophical, intelligent and compassionate, they offer us insights into life, living and being.


Neil Leadbeater, Reviewer for Write Out Loud

 

PR shots for the new book


Publisher’s PR flyers

Photos taken by me: whale watching boat off the south coast of Sri Lanka;

 wrecked tractor in a Devon timber yard 



 












Sunday, 13 March 2022

Poem for the Ukraine - Maggot

The sickening news, day after day, of senseless destruction - for what? 

Even the outcome we think Putin desires (but who can say..?) can never be good for him or Russia. 

Moved by last weekend’s news images I wrote this and posted it as ‘an emotional blurt’ on my personal Facebook page from where it’s started to spread. 

If we all pile our individual grains of pressure on the man maybe, just maybe, the weight will eventually be too much for him. A naive hope, no doubt, but what else can I do..?


Maggot 

March 7th, 2022


In cute dinosaur socks, 

a child dies on a gurney,

his inconsolable mother 

buckling at her knees.


The columns and crowds

of displaced and terrified,

pack platforms in stations

which no trains can leave.


A baby’s mitten, a child’s glove,

another, all dropped in the rush,

reach up from the sludge, 

as if the Earth is raising its hands.


Hunkered in bitter forests 

Russian boys with frozen rifles

make tearful videos on mobile phones.

Uninformed, misled, poorly planned.


The man with polonium eyes,

anti-socially distant and small,

so small, sits in a vast white room

like a maggot in a fridge.


His ridiculous table will never 

be long enough to bear all the names 

of the bodies in the graves he alone, 

with bare hands and buckled knees, should dig.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Where to get hold of my new book

 In case you’re wondering - my latest book can be bought/ordered through any good bookshop (including Waterstones), or through Barnes & Noble or Amazon (where it’s discounted from the full price), and as an ebook on Kindle. Of course you can pm me for a copy or buy it direct from the publishers Sea Crow Press https://seacrowpress.com/



Tuesday, 8 February 2022

UPCOMING GIGS AND READINGS!

I have these book launch readings coming up - please feel free to message me about attending if it’s not clear from the following information. 

And do please contact me if you’d like to book me for an event.!

17th February :  Guest poet for The Tangled Branch poetry website and forum (Zoom) - contact me for access details 

4th March : Reading slot at Sprout Spoken, The Old Library, Bodmin Cornwall 7pm admission £5

17th March :  Reading from the new book in East Gate Book Shop, High Street,  Totnes 7pm (sharp!) Free admission. All welcome.

19th MarchBook launch event at Teignmouth Heritage Centre, Teignmouth, with live music and poetry film screening. Free admission: please message me here or via Facebook if interested in attending. All welcome.

25th March : Book launch event/house concert, East Dulwich, London  - SOLD OUT

April 1st to 10th :  Screening of our animated poetry film at LYRA Bristol Poetry Festival; 

3rd May : Zoom reading with Helene Demetriades for Poetry Teignmouth, 7.30pm. PM me for zoom link. 

6th May :  Cygnet Theatre, Exeter. Guest reader with others celebrating theatre’s anniversary. 7.30pm. Contact me for details, prices etc.

7th May : Presenting an all day workshop with Professor Andy Brown on Music & Poetry for Moor Poets, Buckland-in-the-Moor, Dartmoor. 




Saturday, 5 February 2022

Shaking The Persimmon Tree published today!

I’m delighted to announce my new collection is published today by Sea Crow Press from Cape Cod, USA. Mary at Sea Crow has been brilliant to work with and I’m delighted to join their roster. 


Searching, songful poems. -Helen Ivory, editor of Ink, Sweat & Tears


Here’s a post taken from the Sea Crow Press Blog: 

Sea Crow Press poet Marc Woodward blogs about his new collection of poems Shaking the Persimmon Treeavailable now wherever good books are sold. Read on for the story of how a formerly derelict house in Italy went on to inspire the beautiful words and cover art that make this volume truly special.

Many years ago I bought a tumble-down ruin in a remote village in central Italy. It wasn’t a lot of money and it had that sweet dereliction that the English in particular seem to find irresistible. 

The man who took me to the property and helped push through the brambles and bamboo, was a geometra, a sort of cross between an architect and a surveyor. He was quite forgiving and enthusiastic about the house — even when we barged open the broken door and little black scorpions fell from the frame — smiling confidently as he estimated how little it would cost to restore…


The Italians have a term for naive customers (the English mostly): ‘Pollo’ —chickens waiting to be plucked.  Ah well… roll forward several fraught years which involved cashing in all my meagre savings and stretching out my credit cards (I termed it ‘an adventure in spending’), and I had a pretty little Maiella stone house up a green lane looking across at a castle and a mountain and the roofs of the nearby village — and a thumping great loan.  Eventually, I met some lovely Americans who bought a share in the property and it all worked out okay in the end. 


And that’s how I got my bolt hole in Abruzzo — a place to write and read, to drink local wine and have long conversations during which I understand nothing but get to smile and nod a lot. See my poem Luigi’s Calendar  for an example of this. 

When I was compiling the poems for this book I felt it should centre around two themes: Italy, where many of the poems were written — or at least started — and my own recent diagnosis with early-onset Parkinson’s.  Of course, Covid came along, and naturally, I wrote some poems referencing that and thinking about health generally — including the health of the planet, a common thread in my work. 

But those two initial themes remained and came together in my poem The Boar from which the title of the collection Shaking The Persimmon Tree is taken.


There is a persimmon tree at the end of the garden, past the olives and the rustling bamboo. The fruit ripens very late and still hangs on the tree after the winter snow has crowned the far mountains of the Gran Sasso — the highest peaks in the Apennine chain. In my previous post for the Sea Crow blog I explained a little about the mythology and meaning of the persimmon and why it has significance in the context of these poems — please seek it out and have a read

We had previously taken a photograph with the ripening persimmon in the foreground and the white mountain in the distance, and I realised this would make the ideal cover.  I’d even used the image in a video reading of The Boar.




However the original photo was lost, all I had was a low-resolution copy buried somewhere in my social media.   Nevertheless, after much scrolling, I located it and sent it to my nephew Jesse, a very talented artist who paints gorgeous landscapes – check out 
www.JesseWoodwardart.com – and he created the beautiful painting that now adorns the book. Of course, I must also say thank you to Mary Petiet at Sea Crow Pressand PopKitty design for putting the whole work together so beautifully. I’m delighted with the result and hope readers will enjoy both the poetry and the artwork. 


Marc Woodward is an Anglo/American poet and musician living in the rural English West Country. His writing reflects his green surroundings, often with a dark undercurrent and a hint of wry


Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Sonnet selected for inclusion in the Poetry Archive

Confession: I’m not great at keeping this blog/website up-to-date – forgive me! 

Did I mention that back in November my video reading of my poem Sonnet On An Old Scarf Of My Mother’s was one of the winners in the National Poetry Archive contest and has been selected for permanent inclusion in the archive? 

Well here it is:



Shaking The Persimmon Tree

 I’m excited to say the proof has been checked and checked and is looking great! Publication scheduled for the second half of February – I can’t wait!
























Monday, 22 November 2021

Quay Words - 1st December

 My recent run of gigs and readings end on Wednesday 1st December when Andy Brown and I will be reading for Quay Words at The Custom House in Exeter. This is part of Literature South West’s rolling program of author readings and we are honoured to be the headline guests that evening. If you’d like to attend in person please book tickets in advance as they are limited and it will sell out – but it will also be streamed on-line.  

https://exetercustomhouse.org.uk/events/andy-brown-marc-woodward-the-tin-lodes-grace-notes/




Thursday, 18 November 2021

The Ballad of Mescal & Pistachio

 Some years ago as a fun exercise I wrote a tongue in cheek sequence of concrete poems telling a generic Wild West story. Think Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood and you’ll get the picture. Well, roll forward a few years and my artist brother Andrew Woodward has created this beautiful animation which is well worth watching for his visual imagination and droll delivery! Enjoy:




Thursday, 14 October 2021

Friday, 1 October 2021

OCTOBER NEWS

I’m honoured to have been asked to be the lead judge for the Parkinson’s Art organisation’s annual Poet of the Year competition on the theme of Empowerment. The competition is open to anyone - not just writers with Parkinson’s Disease - and I hope it succeeds in drawing a big field of entries. 

Follow this link for more info https://parkinsons.art/poetrycomp closing date is 31st October

                                                                      **

In other news I’m pleased to have had two poems ‘long-listed’ (apparently that’s the top 12%) in this year’s Bridport Prize; and I have a couple of poems included in the next issue of Poetry Salzburg Review,  whilst another has recently found a home with Atrium - publication in November. 

                                                                       **

After two years of COVID what I’m most excited about is a return to doing some public readings:

Thursday 14th October Andy Brown and I (The SKPs) will be playing and singing at OPOP Restaurant in Ashburton 6.45pm to 8.15pm

Thursday 4th November Andy Brown and I will be doing the headline slot for Fire River Poets in Taunton;

Thursday 11th November AB and I will be doing a headline reading from The Tin Lodes and our new collaboration entitled Grace Notes - and also playing a few songs for Plymouth Language Club, Rockets & Rascals Cafe, The Barbican, Plymouth 

Wednesday 1st December AB and I will be the guest readers for Quay Words in Exeter, again reading from The Tin Lodes and Grace Notes, possibly with a little music too. This is a physical audience event but with limited seating so will sell out very quickly. It will also be streamed live. 

https://exetercustomhouse.org.uk/events/andy-brown-marc-woodward-the-tin-lodes-grace-notes/