Tag Archives: 2010 poetry collections

Mark Granier’s Fade Street

Mark Granier

Mark Granier was born in London but moved to Dublin in 1960, where he has been living ever since. He has published two collections with Salmon Poetry, Airborne (2001) and The Sky Road (2007). He was awarded the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize in 2004 and has received two Arts Council bursaries, in 2002 and 2008.
“In Mark Granier’s new book, Fade Street, he continues to demonstrate the artist’s eye for the nuances of light that made his earlier work so luminously successful. A determined craftsman, he nevertheless collects the delicate and fleeting moment as surely as history’s long views. He shows the development of a true poet with the promise of more wonders to come, his is a talent to enjoy now and keep watching.”
– Ian Duhig

Mark Granier
The lowest branch a bar to help you climb
into the V, then heave through the square hole
in the floor: a nest of plywood, forgotten doors
my cousin banged together one day, for years
cradled in our tallest apple tree. That’s me
on the roof’s warped sheet of corrugated iron,
standing under the sun, staring away
over neighboring trees, roofs, fields, to make out
Howth Head’s cagy embrace, and just below it,
a stubborn flake of ultramarine. I grip
bendy branches: knuckly, sap-green cookers
(too bitter to sink your teeth in, too many to harvest)
and throw my weight from one foot to the other
till the whole shapeless vessel creaks and sways.
At The Butcher’s In Colmenar
Mark Granier

A framed, blown-up photograph hangs on the wall:
the t-shirted butcher’s son and his wife, on their honeymoon
in Manhattan, the towers in the background, the date:
September 10, 2001.
Behind the counter, a steel door opens: a glimpse
of pale waxy carcasses, smell so thick I could colour it
black-red: the colour of history. Outside, I breathe
warm streets, damp from a recent shower.
An old man swings past on crutches. What do I know
about history? Dawdling under a nearby orange tree –
its perfect glimmering system – I think
of reaching to pluck one.
                                   Andalucía, 2004


On An Empty Can
Rolling In The Night
A Week After Your Death
Mark Granier

i.m. Anthony Glavin

Something scratches and scrapes
a hole in my dreamscape,
like one of your once-in-a-black-moon
distress calls to summon
a human voice. What wakes me now
is a mouthful of wind, a hollow
with nothing to tell, old friend,
unless your ghost can bend
its will, rewire the silence,
kick some kind of sense
(hard love that had no use
for the easeful half-truths)
into a can’s life-in-death rattle
that cannot, should not, be still.
Mark Granier

Remember the hour
when a real foot stands on real earth – it leaves the print
of a centaur,
a whiff of horse-sweat and wild mint.
You might start there.
from Fade Street (Salt Publishing, 2010)
Visit Mark’s Salt author page.
Order Fade Street through Salt, Amazon or the Book Depository.
Visit Mark’s blog, The Lightbox.

Martin Figura’s Whistle

Martin Figura

Martin Figura was born in Liverpool in 1956 and works part-time at the Writers’ Centre, Norwich and as a photographer. He is a member of the poetry ensemble The Joy of 6. A spoken word version of his new collection Whistle (Arrowhead Press, 2010) is being produced by Apples and Snakes and begins touring in 2010. Nasty Little Press is publishing a pamphlet of his amusing poems in November 2010. He is Chair of the Café Writers Live Literature organisation in Norwich.

Martin Figura’s riveting sequence of poems about his childhood, his father killing his mother, and the consequences of that upon the whole family is remarkable for the story he doesn’t tell, as much as for the story he does. Exercising a humanising restraint, delicately balanced, these poems are an attempt to excise memory, to fill in some of the missing gaps, but the sense one is left with most of all is absence and loss. Moving, brave unsentimental, Whistle doesn’t blow the whistle on the family. Instead it rather heartbreakingly tries to piece together the fragments of a life, shattered by murder. Sometimes lyrical, rarely angry, often tender, Figura’s soul mate throughout is the understanding and watchful eye of the camera: ‘One day I shall hold them with white gloves,/carefully brush away the dust and look/through their shadows and fingerprints.
– Jackie Kay
Martin Figura has a strong stage presence. His subject matter is so challenging it makes the audience gasp. In spite of this, he engages the listener with warmth and humour. Pitch perfect, he knows his lines and knows how to deliver them. You will be entertained and moved in equal measure.

– Patience Agbabi
Martin’s one man show promises that quality of being at once profoundly honest and at the same time joyfully entertaining. His subject matter is dark and dramatic, a personal journey into family tragedy, against a backdrop of history and politics. But Martin’s stage-presence, his humour and his warmth makes this a shockingly enjoyable journey. His skilful blend of anecdotal story-telling and poetry help to build up powerful emotion without ever becoming manipulative and his use of still image (he’s a photographer as well as a poet) give the show a visual poetry.
– Francesca Beard
Martin Figura’s luminous reading made the audience hold their breath as he read from a new collection rich in warmth and pathos. Strongly recommended.
– Caroline Gilfillan, Poetry-next-the-Sea

My mother and I pose in Sunday best
in front of a cottage with roses
around the door. She dreams
it is our house, where white gloves
will not be smudged or snagged on a thorn
and be left with a pin-prick of blood.
I could print this photograph
so dark, there would only be
her hand on my shoulder.
In my Parents’ Bedroom
On this spring night the curtains burn
with distant fires.
The ceiling is blank sky,
the wallpaper a rose garden.
The dressing table’s arms are full
of fallen objects, its mirror dumb.
Through the wall, it causes no more than a ripple
on the surface of milk.
My toy soldiers are stilled
and I dream on, not of a pale throat,
a kitchen knife, a pyjama cord
pulled tight.
The News
The whole thing tips upside down
at the news. Cups and saucers
spin away – disappear
into the infinite Artex swirl.
I am in the middle of the room,
the centre of a small universe
equidistant, not just from the walls
but the floor and ceiling too.
I begin a slow shadowless rotation
through the silence, heads are planets:
          the doctor’s few thin hairs
          the rings of Saturn,
          Uncle Alan is the ginger sun,
          my sisters and I small lost moons,
          Auntie Margaret’s cloud cover,
          Uncle Philip’s oil fields,
          Father Lightbound’s black jacket
          shouldering its own Milky Way.
Vanishing Point
The rear window flickers into life as we pull away,
the uncertain image of a boy on a bicycle appears,
behind him a painted backdrop of the avenue,
its sycamore trees and pebble-dashed houses:
Piggotts’, Mitchells’, Mrs Donnelly’s with all
its confiscated footballs, her poodle yapping
at the fence. Children’s games are caught
in mid-air, at the height of their action.
Uncle Philip turns onto the busy road. The boy
pedals like mad to stay with us, but we stretch away
and leave him stranded, disappearing.
Then there is just white light
and the loose flapping sound
of a film end escaping its gate.
The boy who
came down
the helter-skelter
bend after bend
has gone.
Keep this last film
dark and tightly rolled,
hold its tongue
between your teeth;
its boiled down bones
and animal hides,
its twenty layers of celluloid.
Published in Whistle (Arrowhead Press, 2010).
Order Whistle here.
Listen to Martin reading four poems at PoetCasting.
Visit Martin’s website.

A poetry list

I thought I’d share a few poetry titles I’m looking forward to reading this year. Some have recently been published, some are not yet available. If you’re interested in buying copies online, do make a note of their publication dates or ask your online book store to let you know when they become available.
Four of the poets are relatively new to me – Elisabeth Bletsoe (Pharmacopoeia & Early Selected Works), Mary O’Donnell (The Ark Builders), Carolyn Jess-Cooke (Inroads) and Anna Robinson (The Finders of London) – and I’m looking forward to becoming better acquainted with their work.
I greatly enjoyed Naomi Foyle’s bold, imaginative and sensuous collection, The Night Pavilion, and am looking forward to her pamphlet, Grace of the Gamblers – A Chantilly Chantey (Waterloo Press), illustrated by Peter Griffiths.
Philippa Yaa de Villiers’s second collection The Everyday Wife, published by the intrepid South African women’s publisher Modjaji Books, follows her popular first collection, Taller than buildings. As a poet living in South Africa, I’d like to mention how proud I am of the strong, beautiful books sent into the world by Modjaji.
Helen Ivory’s The Breakfast Machine (Bloodaxe), Pascale Petit’s What the Water Gave Me – Poems after Frida Kahlo (Seren), Katie Donovan’s Rootling (Bloodaxe) and Penelope Shuttle’s Sandgrain and Hourglass (Bloodaxe), have been long awaited. Their previous collections – The Dog in the Sky (Ivory), The Treekeeper’s Tale (Petit), Day of the Dead (Donovan) and Redgrove’s Wife (Shuttle) – are favourites and occupy the top shelf of my poetry bookcase.
Edited by Bernardine Evaristo and Daljit Nagra, Ten: New Poets from Spread the Word (Bloodaxe) will be available later this year. The anthology aims to reflect “the multicultural make-up of contemporary Britain” and to showcase the work of talented poets such as Mir Mahfuz Ali, Rowyda Amin, Malika Booker, Roger Robinson, Karen McCarthy, Nick Makoha, Denise Saul, Seni Seniviratne, Shazea Quraishi and Janet Kofi Tsekpo.
Identity Parade: New British & Irish Poets, also published by Bloodaxe and edited by Roddy Lumsden, promises to be a feast. I hope, as I’m typing this, my copy is winging its way south from the United Kingdom.
Identity Parade includes poetry from Patience Agbabi, Jonathan Asser, Tiffany Atkinson, Simon Barraclough, Paul Batchelor, Kate Bingham, Julia Bird, Patrick Brandon, David Briggs, Andy Brown, Judy Brown, Colette Bryce, Matthew Caley, Siobhan Campbell, Vahni Capildeo, Melanie Challenger, Kate Clanchy, Polly Clark, Julia Copus, Sarah Corbett, Claire Crowther, Tim Cumming, Ailbhe Darcy, Peter Davidson, Nick Drake, Sasha Dugdale, Chris Emery, Bernardine Evaristo, Paul Farley, Leontia Flynn, Annie Freud, Alan Gillis, Jane Griffiths, Vona Groarke, Jen Hadfield, Sophie Hannah, Tracey Herd, Kevin Higgins, Matthew Hollis, A.B. Jackson, Anthony Joseph, Luke Kennard, Nick Laird, Sarah Law, Frances Leviston, Gwyneth Lewis, John McAuliffe, Chris McCabe, Helen Macdonald, Patrick McGuinness, Kona Macphee, Peter Manson, D.S. Marriott, Sam Meekings, Sinéad Morrissey, Daljit Nagra, Caitríona O’Reilly, Alice Oswald, Katherine Pierpoint, Clare Pollard, Jacob Polley, Diana Pooley, Richard Price, Sally Read, Deryn Rees-Jones, Neil Rollinson, Jacob Sam-la Rose, Antony Rowland, James Sheard, Zoë Skoulding, Catherine Smith, Jean Sprackland, John Stammers, Greta Stoddart, Sandra Tappenden, Tim Turnbull, Julian Turner, Mark Waldron, Ahren Warner, Tim Wells, Matthew Welton, David Wheatley, Sam Willetts, Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch and Tamar Yoseloff.
Are there any anthologies and collections you’re particularly looking forward to getting your hands on this year?
I’d love to hear what’s on your list.
Identity Parade: New British & Irish Poets,
edited by Roddy Lumsden (Bloodaxe Books)

Pharmacopoeia & Early Selected Works
Elisabeth Bletsoe (Shearsman Books)


The Ark Builders, Mary O’Donnell
(Arc Publications)

, Carolyn Jess-Cooke
(Seren Books)


Grace of the Gamblers, Naomi Foyle
(Waterloo Press)


The Finders of London, Anna Robinson
(Enitharmon Press)

The Everyday Wife
, Philippa Yaa de Villiers
(Modjaji Books)

The Breakfast Machine
, Helen Ivory
(Bloodaxe Books)

, Katie Donovan
(Bloodaxe Books)

What the Water Gave Me – Poems after Frida Kahlo,
Pascale Petit (Seren Books)

Ten: New Poets from Spread the Word
edited by Bernardine Evaristo and Daljit Nagra
(Bloodaxe Books) 


Sandgrain and Hourglass
, Penelope Shuttle
(Bloodaxe Books)