Sometimes metaphysical, sometimes apparently confessional, sometimes challenging, often hilarious, Mark Waldron's poems take you by the arm and usher you in to a dark/light, funny/sad, silly/serious world which is exactly what the actual world looks like if you creep up on it and take it by surprise. As human beings living in society we’re supposed to keep what we really think hidden, but the poems of Sweet, like Rinky-Dink want to look at the absurdity behind our posturing, because in looking at it squarely in the face we might hope to have some freedom from it.
Sweet, like Rinky-Dink is Mark Waldron’s fourth collection, following Meanwhile, Trees (2016), published by Bloodaxe, The Brand New Dark (2008) and The Itchy Sea (2011), both from Salt.
‘I get nervous for Mark Waldron's readers – I can hear them begin to laugh a little, becoming too comfortable too quickly, while reading a poem of his and I want to warn them. I want to yell at them to get out of the way, tell them that what's really happening is that they are about to get their hearts broken. Poor monkeys.’ – Matthew Dickman
‘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, on Meanwhile Trees
‘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]
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).