Sunday Poem – Mark Carson

To get to the Sunday poem today, you will, unfortunately have to read through my half-term holiday round up as well.  I’ve been on holiday all week and although this sounds relaxing, it has been filled – or maybe a more accurate adjective would be stuffed with poetry things.  Saturday of course was the marvellous, marvellous Tony Curtis at Poem and A Pint.  We had a great audience at the event and Tony was on fine form – a masterclass in how to deliver a poetry reading.

Then Monday to Wednesday was the residential at Abbot Hall.  It was an intense, exciting and inspiring three days.  I really enjoyed every minute of it.  The group of 15 poets who had signed up were very different – some were very experienced writers and others were complete beginners and then everything in between.  But the group did seem to gel really well and they were very supportive of each other.

The manager of Abbot Hall has already booked us to do another poetry break next year which is amazing.  I can’t wait.  The dates, if you want to get them in your diary are the 13th – 17th April and the tutors will be me and Jenny again.

There are also tentative plans afoot for a residential in one of the other hotels in the chain – and I already have some ideas for tutors to work with – so as soon as I get confirmed details I will post them on here.

On Thursday I went for lunch in Grasmere with the lovely Andrew Forster and met the new Poet-in-Residence Judy Brown who is also lovely.  Then I headed back over to Grange and walked from Kents Bank to the old open-air swimming pool near Grange with the dogs and then back again to the hotel for a reading in the evening for the Estuary anthology that I’m in, organised by Agnes Marton, one of the editors.

On Friday I had a meeting with Ron Creer who runs Adult Education classes in South Cumbria – I’m doing an all-day creative writing workshop for him on March 9th at Grizebeck Village Hall for his creative writing groups.  I’m really looking forward to this and it was nice to catch up and talk over some ideas for the day.

And then yesterday I went to a workshop at Grasmere with David Morley who managed to cram more into a one day workshop than I could in a week.  I found it completely inspiring – the best bit of the workshop was when we were told to go and leave poems around Grasmere – I made a hedgehog out of moss and wrote a little poem to go on a piece of paper that the hedgehog sat on – someone else wrote a poem and put it in the parking meter – there were poems stuck underneath windscreen wipers of cars, posted through the front door of the local junior school – and I’ve decided I’m going to get the kids in my poetry workshop that I’m running tomorrow to do something similar.

I haven’t planned the workshop yet – I’m going to do it after doing this post – but today the hubby and I have been at Millwood, walking the dogs and we started off collecting leaves and twigs as I had a vague idea to do a workshop on something to do with the environment.  When we got to the stream though I realised there were lots of bits of broken pottery in the stream that were much more interesting than a load of moldy old twigs so we started gathering those up – well the hubby did most of it, and I directed from the safety of the bank.

So the workshop is going to evolve hopefully, around these bits of pottery and the children ‘poetrybombing’ their school – I want them to leave poetry around in unusual places for the other children and teachers in the school to find.

So that was my week – filled with poetry which is lovely, but probably a little bit too busy.  Next week, apart from work is going to be a bit quieter.  In fact, I don’t think I have one thing on in the evenings, so I’m planning on catching up with some of my Poetry Business Writing School tasks and doing lots of reading and maybe a little bit of writing.

Today’s Sunday poem is by Mark Carson.  Mark is another of my favourite poetry people.  He lives in Ulverston and is a Poem and A Pint committee member and he does the Job That I Would Least Like To Do – the accounts.  Bleurgh.  But he does it very well and brings colourful spreadsheets and fancy graphs to each meeting we have, and these are much appreciated.  As well as being good with numbers, Mark is also a great poet.  I think he has a very distinctive style – you can always tell a poem by Mark.  Mark is also very humble – even by a poet’s standards, so I thought it would be nice to let the spotlight shine on him for this week.

Mark is  unfailingly generous to other writers and can usually be found making up the audience of various poetry readings around Cumbria.  I asked him for a biography and he mentioned NOTHING of his various publications – he has definately been in Smiths Knoll, Other Poetry, Orbis and The Rialto and he was also highly commended in the Troubadour Poetry Prize in 2011 (this is what I mean about being humble).  If you want to read the highly commmended poem hit the link below and scroll down till you get to the 2011 winners.

He reached Cumbria thirty years ago as an offshore engineer and birding has been an abiding interest since he spent four years in Kenya, where, he tells me, you could see four species of eagle before morning coffee.

The poem that I’ve chosen comes from a lovely little handmade pamphlet that Mark sent through the post to me, probably a couple of years ago now entitled ‘Rapture’.  This poem is my favourite in a sequence of Raptor-in-Action poems that make up the pamphlet.  I hope you enjoy it – this poem came from a photograph Mark saw of a sparrow-hawk hunting pigeons in the middle of a crowded town centre.

Slam by Mark Carson
Sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus

Get across to the streetmarket
to find some meat on a Saturday,
that’s my favourite strategy.

The street is filled with feet,
hairy moonboots, flat loafers,
young person’s fool slippers

and the wrinkled footwear
of the tough old women
treading like legionaries,

pavement-pigeons among them
pratting round the statues
of hard-drinking riveters

and they make me so furious
with their garbledeecoing
and their silly fecklessness

that I just wring one off
in a fit of irritation,
in the twist of a talon

and the foolish thing lies there
in all of its heavy deadness
as I grab it by the tonsils

and haul it off the pavement
feathers creaking like basketwork
creaking with effort.

That’s your real urban rapping
your raptor gutter-scrapping
pigeon-slamming sparrow-hawking.

6 comments on “Sunday Poem – Mark Carson

  1. I love reading about all this: lunch in Grasmere, walks from Grange over Sands, poetry reading in Ulverston. What a lovely part of the country to be based in. And from a poetry point of view it sounds very vibrant. Great poem from Mark, too (“I just wring one off in a fit of irritation..” tee hee). Many thanks.

    1. I suppose it does sound idealic! It felt slightly more manic at the time though… I’m glad you are finding it interesting though Robin – it will be nice to look back on it all in a couple of years…I feel like this is a time of change for me and I quite enjoy documenting it in this way -and punctuating it with poetry as well.

    1. Hmmm…..well not sure I agree about Barrow being cosmopolitan! But definately agree about the graphic birds-eye-view part. There was a really good programme on the other day about wildlife in London-don’t know if you saw it – there were peregrine falcons I think feasting on pigeons, and a seal in the docks, and a fox and a badger being fed on a weighbridge…

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