Thursday 26 Jan: Mark Goodwin at Leicester Writers’ Club

On Thursday, members of Leicester Writers’ Club gathered to welcome poet Mark Goodwin as their guest speaker for the evening.

As adjudicator of the club’s Autumn/Winter Poetry Competition, Mark gave insightful comments on the winning entries and presented prizes, followed by entrants’ readings of their placed poems.

Mark Goodwin, who describes his work as ‘other stream’ rather than mainstream in style, talked about his recent project as Leicestershire Landscape Poet in Residence. (I was lucky enough to participate in collaborative scapeshops at Loughborough University campus and The Brand, Swithland last summer).  He also talked about his fascination with the ‘rurban’ or ‘rimmage’: where urban meets rural.  (This was the focus of a walkshop I attended, facilitated by Mark as part of Southwell Library Poetry festival in July 2010).

We were transported as Mark read poems from his collections Else and Back of a Vast (Shearsman): poems about place, often using playful language and innovative word or line breaks, evident in the voicing of them.  In the ensuing discussion, one member likened this style to stop-frame animation.  The poet went on to say how breaking words gave opportunities for being creative with word meanings.  He also welcomed coincidental sounds occurring during the reading of certain poems.

Mark mentioned poets who have influenced his writing: Lee Harwood, Peter Dent and Geraldine Monk.  Click here to read poems by the latter two poets, and Mark’s tribute poems, in Litter online magazine (Leafe Press).

Mark ended by reading Song of Shoes from his latest collection, Shod (Nine Arches Press), which won the East Midlands Book Award 2010.  A modern parody about a shoe messiah, Shod is strongly narrative, lyrical, innovative.  I found it compelling reading – a real page-turner.

Leicester Shindig!

Monday 23rd January: poets and poetry lovers packed out The Western pub for the first Leicester Shindig! of 2012.

This bi-monthly event is co-hosted by Nine Arches press and Crystal Clear Creators.  Its winning formula: open mic slots and guest poet readings; an evening in two halves with an interval for catching up with friends in poetry, meeting new faces, re-fills at the bar and a browse at the book table.  (I came away with my planned purchase of David Morley’s The Night of the Day).

Open mic poems I enjoyed included Maria Taylor’s Larkin: a cautionary tale about the dangers of over-teaching (click here to read it).  David Calcutt’s reading was particularly captivating.  There were a couple of dual-voice poems and, in a timely homage to the Bard of Scotland, Nick Leach recited Robert Burns’ To A Mouse.

Guest poets:

John Lucas read extracts from his current project and several poems about mice.

Jessica Mayhew transported us to other worlds, reading some poems from her forthcoming Crystal Clear Creators pamphlet (added to my list of ‘must haves’).  A talented young poet with a bright future.

Helen Calcutt‘s guest spot was the highlight of my evening:  beautiful images, sculpted sounds, superbly articulated.  Her first collection will be published later this year by Perdika, London (another for the list).

Unfortunately, Phil Brown was unable to attend, but you can purchase, or read an excerpt of, his Il Avilithere (part of the Nine Arches Debut new poets series).

Remaining Leicester Shindig! dates for 2012:

Monday 19th March

Monday 21st May

Monday 16th July

Monday 17th September

Monday 19th November

Visit Nine Arches online: several titles are reduced in their January sale!








morning roads snow-blocked
vehicles lie snow-shocked

railway station snow-lined
routes to nowhere snow-signed

High Street snow-stalled
Castle grounds snow-walled

Steep Hill snow-swagged
Christmas Market snow-gagged

Strugglers Inn snowbound
Bishop’s Palace snow-crowned

Minster towers snow-carved
Uphill, downhill: snow-halved

wrought iron snow-crafted
bare trees snow-grafted

sleeping city snow-claimed
inner beauty snow-framed


holes cannot exist without
a host that makes them
parasites if

holes consist of nothing then
they’re immaterial
lack substance and if

holes are mere disturbances like
creases in a shirt then
they can easily be smoothed away if

holes once filled
aren’t holes then why
the more I pack

into dark days
still darker nights
the deeper this hole gets?

“There is no such thing as a hole by itself.”

Kurt Tucholsky, 1930

Published in Soundswrite anthology III: June 2011

Home Edition for Word

Edit last night’s blazing row:

Delete the accusations flung
Cut the spat profanities
Paste in the file named Regrets

Undo the wakeful night spent hugging the mattress edge
Insert → Break
Format → Change Case

I’m sorry
Let’s talk

Save changes
Open new blank document

Published as a Wee Poem for Everybody’s Reading festival, Leicester: Oct 2010

Black Orchids

A lover’s parting gift
the silk kimono
black orchids on yellow
wrap her skin
in the bedroom
turned atomic darkroom
Hiroshima’s flash photography
tattoos orchids shadow artistry
on angel skin

Published in Hearing Voices issue 1 (Crystal Clear Creators): Oct 2010

The Last Performance

Quivering candles melt in drips
down burnished silver candlesticks.
From glinting crystal, fluted lips
imbibe their wine with eager sips.

Assembled dinner party guests
in front row seats at their request.
Each one, dressed in party best,
anticipates a grand gabfest.

By carefully-planned complicity,
observing every nicety,
the players’ deft duplicity
apes blissful domesticity.

Abettors in the said collusion,
tasty dishes in profusion
validate the grand illusion,
adding to the guests’ delusion.

Each cognac-fuelled rave review
drifts back down the avenue
as guests leave, bidding fond adieux,
the evening’s end long overdue.

The room that lacks an audience
has lost its cosy ambience:
an empty stage that waits in silence,
ready for the next performance.

The actors wipe away all traces
of greasepaint smiles from tired faces.
No more need for airs and graces,
corsets, braces, tight shoelaces.