These poems may sometimes pretend they’re joking but they never really are. And what is it they’re not joking about? Death for one thing, and the fact that we don’t actually know who we are, and the fact that we don’t truly know who our loved ones are, or what art is, or anything else for that matter.
Sometimes it feels as though someone has run off with meaning. It’s no longer to be found where we could once expect to find it, perhaps in religion or in nature or in art, and these poems set off in search of it. Their aim is to see if there’s a way of looking and a way of using language that can bring some meaning back to the world, because without it, we’re lost.
Meanwhile, Trees is Mark Waldron’s third collection, following The Brand New Dark (2008) and The Itchy Sea (2011), both published by Salt.
‘Clearly, Waldron has enough wit and imagination to sink a battleship, but perhaps the most interesting thing about his work is the use to which he puts features widely disseminated in contemporary poetry: randomness, whimsy, play and inconsequence…. When Waldron exploits these traits and turns them inside out, he shows an impressive elegance and rhetorical power, sustained despite a blizzard of broken registers and bits of this and that. His work reveals an authority it might at first seem far from seeking. The outcome is poetry that might count for something.’ – Sean O’Brien, Guardian
‘His special skill is comedy, but not the standup sort. His speakers expose themselves self-accusingly, defiantly, or bashfully, while at the same time seeming snug as bugs in their tightly interlocked chainmail of precise language…. And there lies the delight of the collection: it gives us a rare sense of the Elizabethan richness of an English that’s available right now. Underneath the defamiliarising ingenuity, the political pretension-pricking and all the narrative verve and swerve, the diction is the real star of this invigorating book.’ – Carol Rumens, Observer, Poetry Book of the Month [on Meanwhile, Trees]
‘Waldron’s poems are good at building a world, scaling out from close-ups of small objects to galactic constellations that absorb and skew their more recognizable scenes and references’. – John McAuliffe, The Poetry Review [on Meanwhile, Trees]
‘Mark Waldron’s Meanwhile, Trees surrounds the reader in a cyclonic blur of humour hiding a manic urge towards self-destruction. The tone of these poems is deceptively light; glee edged with darkness is the main flavour of this book.’ – Bethany W. Pope, Magma
‘… nobody does a controlled explosion quite like Mark Waldron. Under his inimitable eye events and emotions are slowed to a state of near-stasis, to be scrutinized, schematized, and dazzlingly animated. Meanwhile, Trees, his third collection, presents a rich emulsion of languor and anxiety that I found riotously enjoyable.’ – Abigail Parry, Poetry London
‘This quite astonishing collection should certainly be placed in the library, but carefully, with the most quizzical, ironical and independently-minded of older students directed towards it with glee: they will never have read anything quite like it before.’ – Frank Startup, The School Librarian [on Meanwhile, Trees]
Mark Waldron: Live at Ledbury Poetry Festival
Mark Waldron reads and introduces a selection of poems from his Meanwhile, Trees, together with two poems from The Itchy Sea (Salt Publishing, 2011, these marked with an asterisk): ‘All My Poems Are Advertisements for Me’, ‘The Uncertainty Principle’, ‘The Chocolate Car’*, ‘It’s hard not to see Hamlet as some kind of everyman’, ‘The Shoes of a Clown’, ‘The Dead Are Helpless’, ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’, ‘Confessional Poem’, ‘Collaboration’, ‘Yes I admit that I have ate’, ‘First off…’, and ‘The Fire Hose’*. Filmed by Neil Astley, this video shows part of his performance (with Matthew Caley) at Ledbury Poetry Festival on 3 July 2016.
Mark Waldron: Live at Newcastle Poetry Festival
Mark Waldron speaks three poems from his new Bloodaxe collection, Meanwhile, Trees: ‘All My Poems Are Advertisements for Me’, ’The Dead Are Helpless’ and ‘Yes, I admit that I have ate’. This video shows part of his performance at Newcastle Poetry Festival on 6 May 2016. Filmed for Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Pete Hebden (with special thanks to Linda Anderson).