Tag Archives: Salt poetry pamphlets

Mark Burnhope’s The Snowboy

  
 
 
Mark Burnhope was born in 1982. He studied at London School of Theology before completing an MA in Creative Writing at Brunel University. His poems and reviews have appeared in a variety of print and online publications. He currently lives and writes in Bournemouth, with his partner, four stepchildren, two geckos and a greyhound. The Snowboy (Salt Publishing, 2011) is his first book of poetry. 
 
  
 
 

  
 
 
“Mark Burnhope’s poems present a generous but moral quizzing of the world. Peering out over disability, faith and the host of prejudices that spring from such ground, they negotiate a path through lyricism and music, didacticism and narrative, comedy and confession, slang and slur in their search for a voice with which to speak. They visit town and sea, husband and wife and monuments to grief built of snow, steel, stone. They take us to a hydrotherapy session, a talking tree and an outcast crew including Pinocchio, Queequeg and Quasimodo. But at their heart, there is great warmth. Burnhope asks uncomfortable questions of the rhyme or reason for loss and healing, even as he challenges received perceptions of disabled life with wit, verve and an inclusive imagination.”
 
 
 
 
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“Mark Burnhope’s work is concerned with the physical – how a town is a physical place, how we live in a world of machines, our bodies among them. Many of the poems address disability, not only in the narrow sense our culture understands it but also in the wider sense that our physicality acts as a pathetic curb on the life of the spirit. The poems (which are machines themselves, we’ve been told) shake with the joy and frustration of living.”
 
– Tony Williams
 
 
 
“Imagine Zaccheus turning tables at the Internet Café, Paul turning back into Saul, confuse dying with flying, imagine a wheelchair recast in a pastoral landscape. Burnhope speaks movingly of human weakness and physical frailty, of strength and lightness of spirit.”
 
– Helen Ivory
 
 
 
“This debut pamphlet introduces a serious and playful, tender and ironic, strong and coherent new voice. A definite talent to watch.”
 
– Andrew Philip
 
 
 
 
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To My Familiar, Queequeg
 
 
I too am tattooed.
I too tap away
nightly at an idol.
 
Show me a sailor who
hasn’t savaged himself
and I will anchor a cyclone.
 
Our ink speaks
in skin: spins tales
of speared fins;
 
sirens found by fingering
tracks of sultry song
and then defiled.
 
The world turns
over like a novel
sex act requires
 
of a woman. I often
trail the geography
of the tethered body.
 
Once, I woke to find
your tentacles tightly
wrapped around me.
 
I wished to be tangled
safe, like Ishmael
finding in you his wife.
 
I wanted to compare
tattoos, remove tops
and trousers, and trace;
 
laugh at lines
blown out from excess
force by the hand, and time,
 
designs that lighten, slowly,
like flints in the sea.
For a while, Quee, we’d find
 
a world where the whale
is not white or dreadful. It’s
a pale vessel, drifting, singing.
 
 
 
 
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To My Best-kept, Quasimodo
     
          ‘When you’re standing by the roadside
          and it’s a long way to go, I’ll carry you’
                                           — The Levellers, ‘Carry Me’
 
 
Like you, I have one eye
which is good, my other
a glossy, pussed growth,
a tumour. I would pluck it out,
say, I have sinned, Father—
seen far-and-away
the best of Esmeralda
through blue, stained-
glass panes: her sleight
of foot, bangled wrist,
Notre-Dame de Paris drowning
under her deft Paparuda.
But my better eye has seen us,
cliché cripple and Romani
gypsy, run to escape the flash-
storm of rain and paparazzi
curiosity forward-slash greed—
and so many spine-twisting stairs!—
to roost in my stone belfry:
feel the pull, hear the toll
whose light spell whispers
in the ear of a seed, makes
straight once-wasted bone.
 
 
 
 
from The Snowboy (Salt Publishing, 2011).
 
Order The Snowboy.
 
Visit Mark’s blog, Naming the Beasts.
 
 
 
 
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J.T. Welsch’s Orchids

  
 
 
J.T. Welsch grew up in a small farm town near St. Louis, Missouri, but lives and teaches in Manchester, UK, where he completed a PhD this past year. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbox Manifold, Stand, Boston Review and Manchester Review. Orchids (Salt, 2010) is his first book of poetry. Another pamphlet, Orchestra & Chorus, will be published by Holdfire Press later in 2011.
 
 
 
 

  
 
 
Orchids springs from the margins of contemporary masculinity. A rich undercurrent of melancholy and desire seethes beneath the cool rhetorical playfulness of these monologues, as anguished speakers face the unfeasibility of confession. Beyond their fantastic flights and metamorphoses, these poems remain most troubled by the everydayness of their melodramas.
 
 
 
“Rapid, surprising and unlikely, J.T. Welsch’s poems spin brilliant variations on the recession, translation, gender studies and war. Strangely and completely convincingly, these subjects are refracted through the love poems which comprise this pamphlet. Hammered out in stanzas which show an inviting formal authority and are a pleasure to read, Orchids re-routes the work of his great St. Louis predecessors for the 21st century.”
 
– John McAuliffe 
 
 
 
Orchids is a distinguished debut: clever but emotional, ingenious but affecting. The poems are a self-sufficient pleasure, and promise very well for the future.”
 
– Andrew Motion
 
 
 
 
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Coppice
 
Yes, it’s cutbacks time. This winter,
the planet is in brilliant recession.
Contemptible new lines of sight are
daily being opened up and up and up
for sinners in the hands of an angry Dow.
 
No one’s buying any solution back home.
No one will see the copse for the corpses.
When they cleared along the mill path,
my own gut-of-guts’ reaction was that
we shouldn’t see our house from here.
 
The sign calls coppicing an ancient art,
but that doesn’t make it common sense.
Cutting back to help grow? Admit it,
invisible hand: Diversity’s a hard sell.
If nothing else, who’s your target audience?
 
If it were natural, the argument goes,
Miss Nature would regulate herself.
But nature isn’t rational, not like a soul!
So, we’ll wager the organic, working body
against an otherwise uninsured salvation:
 
A penny saved qua a penny earned.
Substitute your paper currency of choice.
You don’t understand: It’s in my blood.
My forefathers and foremothers robbed
Indian graves to get through their winter.
 
So what if the Mayflower is a barn in
“Buckinghamshire”? Recycling’s cheap.
Cut the canopy, let the underwood breathe.
God can whip up a zillion new trees.
I’ll bet none of them come with poems.
 
 
 
 
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Meditation on Washing Up
 
 
I.
 
I feel no duty toward these dishes, even if
I’ll be the last to read them, or their splotches,
and quickly, till each re-surfaces,
more complete than I ever hope to be.
 
 
II.
 
It’s not like what we do with a gentler sponge,
uprooting whatever’s been determined
(in this circular way) to be outside us.
Nothing outside us makes us dirty, says Jesus.
 
 
III.
 
Who’d believe it’s invisibly small creatures
eating and shitting dead skin that does it?
Uncleanliness is a feature of neither dirt nor thing,
but teeters between, like any other fornication.
 
 
IV.
 
Absolution is an endless archaeology.
Every plate you bring into our home is held
to its inscription, waiting, or jumping the queue
to don the colours that say Mine or Hers.
 
 
V.
 
I know I’m clearing what can’t add to our re-births.
That’s why I like washing you even more
than dishes: insane jealousy of your microbes.
Unlike food’s, I savour their downfall. Plus…
 
 
VI.
 
If my own troops have more spunk, so to speak,
they’re only half me, and equally erasable.
Mark 7:19 – What goes down identifies
temporarily with body, not the soul.
 
 
 
 
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He Do Star Wars In Different Voices
 
The facts. No dirty talk. No reference,
no puns. Would it be easier
just to watch the damn things?
Maybe, sweetheart, it would’ve been.
We’ll agree it’s too late now.
 
To spare my nostalgia for some
pure edition no one has ever seen,
I shield you, in turn, with these hours
and awful English accents, a bed sheet
for an all-purpose prop and costume.
 
For you, we take as much time
doubling back for Kurosawa,
or Joseph Campbell, for Ben Burtt fun-facts
and the truth about Han and Leia’s kids
as we spend lost in headlong exposition.
 
If that sounds oppressive, I can’t help it.
I’m ready to fall on my light saber
belaboring the elegant structures
of the Expanded Universe,
expanding on it until it includes you too.
 
 
 
 
from Orchids (Salt, 2010).
 
Order Orchids here or here.
 
 
 
 
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