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Marc Woodward - -Meet Marc

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Marc Woodward - -Meet Marc

Post by Tom » Fri Feb 04, 2022 11:22 am

The Tangled Branch's first Guest Poet:

  MARC WOODWARD            Image

Poet, author, musician, all-around good guy.  Marc is the author of the recently released Shaking the Persimmon Tree, (Sea Crow Press), 2022. Although a New Yorker by birth, Woodward has been a lifelong resident of rural England. His writing reflects his surroundings in the remote West Country, often with a dark undercurrent — and a degree of wry humour. He has been widely published in journals, anthologies and online. He was writer-in-residence at The Wellstone Center in Santa Cruz, California, and in 2018 he was shortlisted for the 2018 Bridport Prize. He won the 2019 Keats’ Footsteps Prize and was commended for the 2020 Acumen Poetry Prize and the 2020 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award.

His previous collections include A Fright of Jays (Maquette Press 2015),  

Hide Songs (Green Bottle Press 2018), 

and The Tin Lodes, written in collaboration with well-known poet and English professor Andy Brown, (Indigo Dreams 2020). 

In addition to writing, he is also an accomplished musician who has recorded, performed, and taught internationally.  He was recently diagnosed with mild early-onset Parkinson’s Disease and this is touched upon in a number of his newer poems. 

Marc blogs at www.marcwoodwardpoetry.blogspot.co.uk

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Posts: 256
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Re: Marc Woodward - -Meet Marc

Post by Tom » Thu Mar 10, 2022 12:18 pm

Poetry Reading Selections:

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.

May the Fifth
(There is no melancholy without rain)

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.

Dog In the Afternoon

All afternoon the old grey dog
curled in a depression of his own shape
under a lattice of palm fronds.

Through a break in the rocks
spent waves ricocheted
over coral, cowry, crab-shell.

Farther along at the beach bar
people were packing away towels,
scooping up snorkels and masks.

Settled under tables other strays
lay in the soft-clinking shade
waiting for scraps of kindness.

The grey dog was removed from all that.
He’d taken himself off to lie down, let go.
To collapse into singularity.

When I was twelve or so
our old Dalmatian took sick,
slouched off into the fields.

Dogs do that when they know things are bad,
my father said
they want to be alone, let nature take its course

I searched for Sam all afternoon,
found him shivering and guilty-faced
in the long grass of a fallow field.

I carried his surrendered weight
half a mile home and for a while
the vet staved off death.

All dogs must die somewhere.
It could be good out of the breeze,
shaded by broad banana leaves.


Early next day I followed the clay path down
from the tuk-tuk turn, past the hut
where women in saris sold coconuts,

past the unrendered houses where small,
shirtless kids were already out in their yards
shouting hello! to passing strangers.

I looked for the dog.
He’ll be gone, of course.
He’ll have picked himself up,

shaken off the sand,
wandered away to seek
another day’s salvation.

Or maybe he will have quietly died,
borne east into the morning
on a yellow Indian Ocean

with the green turtles,
the blue whales and all the gaudy
whale-watching boats?

Except there he was,
dead as any old grey dog,
any old grey dog on a waking beach,

a banana leaf across his flat haunches,
and a butchery of land crabs
trickling toward him over the sand.

Carpe Diem

Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
brings the priest and the doctor
in their long coats
running over the fields.
(‘Days’ Philip Larkin)

I stopped near the house
of my dead parents,
down a thin lane
pinned by the wind
to vegetable fields,
where unwalked footpaths,
like a map of memory loss,
searched for settlements
long ploughed over.

They retired to Devon
for their last years together,
filling the bird-feeder,
bending to the garden,
stretching laundry
across the wind.

It was a Spring weekend,
days whistle-brisk
and bright as this one,
rain always around
the corner of the sky,
when we went to clear
out their cottage,
sorting, remembering,
facing their pasts,
and closer, our own.

Now, at the five bar gate
where my father leaned
to watch his dog run itself
across tumbled furrows,
I wondered what he used
to think about. Was it
that I didn’t call enough?
My mother would always say
I should call him more
but looking back it was
probably her I should’ve rung.

I could talk to you
about impermanence
but it’d be nothing
you don’t already know.
For God’s sake:
seize the day and shake it!
Shake it upside down
till all its bright coins
fall around your feet.
Gather them and buy
a slow ticking watch,
a suit of conversation,
a hat of laughter,
wear them every day
until you hear those
dark-clothed felons
running over the fields
so sure of their
Gladstone and their bible.

Prendere lucciole per lanterne 
(‘to take fireflies for lanterns’)

As midnight tolled its long count
our host Stefano tumbled down
into the oleander plants
around the border of the lawn.

Distant valley dogs were barking 
as we pulled him from the fiori,
laughing and unspectacled.
We offered our grazie mille 

then left along separate paths
diverging from the lantern light
into the spark-peppered dark
of a new-moon summer night.

Feeling for the crumbled asphalt 
with the soles of wandering shoes
I recalled Maria’s warning 
of fierce cinghiali sows.

At an unremembered bend,
which may have curled its way to home
or the dereliction of a ditch, 
a chariot of fireflies came 

to carry me high and waving
like a flag of well, whatever 
over olives, figs and walnuts, 
down from the wild Maiella

to the tattered edge of town
where leathery lucciole  
wait for secret charioteers;
the depot where Giuseppe

works early morning shifts
before tending to his nursery
of aubergines and peppers;
the broken-windowed factories

empty by the autostrada;
the seaside conurbation
sleeping for a sunny day;
then back over corrugations

of coppi, to set me down swirly
at my door. How many it took 
to fly a drunk I can’t be sure
they disappeared before I looked

but this I know my clothes were torn
my shoes were in a dreadful state 
- you let the fireflies light you home
and this’ll be the price you pay.

‘to take fireflies for lanterns’  is an Italian expression meaning ‘to get the wrong end of the stick’
Lucciole means fireflies but is also Italian slang for prostitute.

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