Author Topic: Mark Charlesworth - Postcards from the Snow  (Read 5095 times)

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Offline Wickerman

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Mark Charlesworth - Postcards from the Snow
« on: October 21, 2009, 04:29:54 PM »
SEE LATER POST (3RD ON PAGE 3) FOR NEW UPDATE

I hope you'll forgive the slightly shameless self-promotion, but I know a few people here were interested in my last book, and so I wanted to let you know about my forthcoming collection of poetry, 'In Memory of Real Trees', which will be officially released on November 28th.

If you'd like a little more information about it, you'll find a copy of the press release on my blog (http://www.markcharlesworth.blogspot.com/), and if you'd like to get in touch for more information, to join the mailing list, or to leave comments/feedback, it'd be great to hear from you over on mark.charlesworth@hotmail.co.uk

I'm also currently looking for any suggestions of interesting ways to promote the book, so if you have any ideas, send them to the above email address, and, as a thank you, name's will be acknowledged in the third book.

For now, I hope you enjoy this sample from the book.  'Damaged Goods in Transit' is the opening poem, and I like to think that it nicely introduces a lot of the themes and ideas which are addressed over the ensuing pages.

Damaged Goods in Transit

Are you lonely again?
Have you come here feeling lost?
Do you sit there counting out the cost?
Are you scared tonight because there’s so much to fear,
or because you’ve put your dreams on hold
for yet another year?

When it gets painful
and when it hurts,
do you find yourself asking what it’s all really worth?
How often do you wish your life away like me,
hiding beneath the pillows from everyday tragedies?

Do you ever feel you’re tearing blindly
to hopelessness, loss and apathy?
Water trickling down the plughole
into a void, expansive sea.

You turn off the lights and lay naked in the dark,
staring at the ceiling;
listening out for homesick aliens.
Do you feel vulnerable, dark and cold?
Too tired to sleep,
too empty to weep,
pray with heart and soul that something fills the hole.

Do you feel like a stuffed toy unravelling at the seams
when you stare at the news on a flickering screen?
Just a frightened, vulnerable child again:
that desperate incomprehension of suffering and pain.

Walking on ashes, smoke choking your neck,
the earth shakes and trembles like a shivering mess,
crippled by the anxiety of claustrophobic dreams,
pleading ‘what have we done?’, stifling the screams.
We walk upon gold but in blood it gleams,
take up arms to ruin the glittering streets,
we bow to the mercy of murderous thieves.
Now we’re damned straight to hell by our self-absorbed greed.

And it’s hard to have faith
when the world seems so fragile:
damaged goods in transit
through infinite space.
Are we walking hand in hand
down the executioner’s mile,
waiting for spare parts
or a last saving grace?

And as the dusky shadows fall,
you’re afraid the sun won’t rise again.
Crossing the border to the city’s edge;
into the hills and to the end,
past broken glass and broken homes,
broken dreams and broken stones,
broken fortunes giving way
to open sky above open wounds.

There’s a crimson stream which slowly runs
through fields untroubled by soldier’s tombs,
winding through miles of unexplored woods,
then bursting out from the canopied cocoon.

From the hilltop clearing, you can almost see
the scars of the suburbs stretching slowly beneath:
just writhing embryos of a larger disease
that feeds on corruption and thrives upon fear,

but close to a night sky that sparkles and shines,
you felt safe from the nightmare below.

So you carved an inscription upon a stone,
in crumbling earth planted a seed:
‘for the day when the branches are replaced with bones,
in memory of real trees’.

Offline gr8gonzo

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Re: New Book - In Memory of Real Trees
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2009, 06:58:45 PM »
8-)  Where's the 'Like' button around here?  Good stuff, Mark.  I like the title of the book and the poem and how they're incorporated.  I liked several of the lines, but especially 'broken fortunes giving way to open sky above open wounds.'

I'll definitely be ordering this one, too.  Looking forward to it.
...and I can feel the world is turning...turn around

Offline Wickerman

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Re: New Book - In Memory of Real Trees
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2009, 11:19:06 PM »
Thanks very much!  Really glad you like it.  I'm glad to have it out there finally, as it was written nearly a year ago, and, apart from one reading, it's been under wraps for ages.  It seems to be be desperate to assert itself, as I notice the post seems to have multiplied itself.  There are 2 of it!  Not sure how that happenned!  

Thanks again for your support and encouragement.  I'll keep you updated...

Mark

Offline johninblack

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Re: New Book - In Memory of Real Trees
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2009, 06:45:06 AM »
Quote from: "Wickerman"
It seems to be be desperate to assert itself, as I notice the post seems to have multiplied itself.  There are 2 of it!  Not sure how that happenned!  
Mark
No, I'm not sure how it happened either! I have removed it, I hope it won't be offended. :D
Good luck with the book.
"F#?K OFF, GRANDAD!!!!"

Offline Wickerman

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Re: New Book - In Memory of Real Trees
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2009, 01:19:17 PM »
Thanks johninblack... thought I'd better contain this one in the same thread, lest it gets out of control again!

***

I'd like to thank you for your continued feedback and support, both with comments about 'Damaged Goods in Transit' (attached in the last mailout) and responses to my call for promotional suggestions. People have got back to me with some very interesting ideas, and will be duly credited in the next collection's acknowledgments. As ever, it's never too late to get in touch, and I aim to reply to all responses personally. So, if anyone can think of any more marketing ideas (especially ones that involve the internet), please don't hesitate to drop me a line here. All positive contributors I use will be credited in book 3.

Now, as November is upon us, and the launch date looms ever-closer, I'd like to let you know about some events which will be going on over the next few weeks.

- On November 17th, I'll be reading as a featured artist at The Continental's regular literature night, Word Soup, in Preston. With a couple of other highly-recommended, excellent writers booked, it's shaping up to be a good night. Head over to www.newcontinental.net for more details.

- November 20th brings Lancaster's monthly Spotlight club (www.spotlightlancaster.co.uk), at which I'll be performing open mic.

- And November 28th is, of course, the book launch itself, also taking place at The Continental (see above for web address). Obviously, I hope to see as many of you as possible there, but understand - particularly as Christmas draws near - that people have many commitments, so, if you want to come along, but can't make it, why not come down to one of the other events listed above? More listings to follow shortly.

I'd also like to highlight a couple of links featuring reviews of both the first and second book.

- Andrew Hurley at the Preston Writing Network recently contributed an in-depth piece about my first collection, 'Sunrise and Shorelines'. It's an excellently written review that even had me looking at my own work in a different light, and can be read at: http://prestonwritingnetwork.blogspot.c ... by_31.html

- Fellow writer Norman Hadley (www.normanhadley.com) also shares his thoughts about 'In Memory of Real Trees' on the Lunecy review: http://thelunecyreview.wordpress.com/20 ... eal-trees/

And, speaking of 'In Memory of Real Trees', I'm pleased to attach another sample (see below), highlighting a slightly different side of the book to that shown in 'Damaged Goods in Transit'. 'Postcards from the North' is a paean to my much-loved homeland. It came to me on a train, travelling through Yorkshire, and attempts to rewrite the negative cliches, often associated with northern England, as things to actually be proud of.

As ever, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Mark

***


Postcards from the North



We’ve got forty-two different types of rain,

clouds gone murky from streaming soot,

cobbled streets and old steam-trains,

smokers coughing up their guts.



We’ve got godawful cities full of godawful people,

where treacle-black rivers hide forms, drowned and foetal,

crumbling mills in the shadows of steeples,

industrial corpses and disappointing sequels.



We’ve got tea so bitter that it burns in your mouth,

and stories you’d hardly believe down south,

of twisted beasties that lurk below the bed,

the gallows of Golgotha to lop off your head.



But we’ve got hills that climb for miles,

witch stories whispered by midnight fires,

spindly webs shimmering through January gloom,

frost glittering like fairy-lights beneath a bright moon.



We’ve got The Smiths singing ‘Sheila Take a Bow’,

where Orwell’s ghost stalks a drizzle-soaked town,

Yorkshire cobbles stained with blood, myth and mystery,

Lancashire spook tales and bridges to history.



We’ve got a sleepy village on the edge of the world,

where long grass in the twilit fields

sways in the wake of a warm sea wind,

and at the passing echo of the six-fifteen train,

they say a pair of old friends can be seen most days,

contentedly lost as a melody plays;

the haunting strains of some violin tune

that someday will all but fade.

Offline Wickerman

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Re: Mark Charlesworth - Postcards from the North
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2009, 11:02:11 PM »
Rainy Sunday evening greetings all,
 
A little update on all things book-related, which are certainly gathering steam, as the launch date rapidly approaches.  With the launch-party night, on November 28th, nearing, things are getting both nerve-wracking and exciting.  I'm looking forward to meeting some old and new friends that day, from 7.30pm at The Continental in Preston (http://www.newcontinental.net).
 
Some of you will have seen me reading at a couple of events this week.  I'd like to say thanks for coming along, and giving the new work such a warm response!  Unlike with 'Sunrise and Shorelines', where I would read a similar selection of favourite pieces at each event, I'm trying to give everything from this book a fair hearing, so those of you who've seen me performing at several events should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from 'In Memory of Real Trees' by now.
 
'Postcards from the North', included with the last mailout, seems to have received a particularly good response.  Among others, 'Further Away from Home' also got its first airing at Preston's 'Word Soup' this week, and seemed to go down well.  Therefore, in the tradition of previewing new material with these emails, I've tagged a copy of that poem onto this message.
 
Should any of you want to reply, with comments, feedback, or for any more information about the book launch, I'll look forward to hearing from you here or on mark.charlesworth@hotmail.co.uk
 
All the best,
 
 
Mark Charlesworth

***
 
Further Away from Home


Abandoning the comfort of a subterranean nest;

the enveloping sheets of a warm, familiar bed;

the shelter of a domestic haunt

that, all through childhood, had been in sight,

even in the dusk and rain,

visible by a single ember burning in the grate,

and trading it all for three years in the wilderness,

was never an easy decision to make.

But standing on the brink

of a world that threatened

all the potential hope and nightmare of a fairytale,

you knew you were doing right

by treading in the wrong direction.


Taking leave from the beaten track,

ill prepared, clutching at a compass and crumpled map,

you quickly discovered that true travelling

doesn’t need a plan or guide

to diminish the crooked beauty

of an indigo night sky,

aching with myth and inscriptions of classical legends,

tales of old friends and ghosts

concealed in every constellation.


Plummeting several-thousand-feet-or-so,

rugged coastlines fight erosion

and reclamation by a violent sea,

emaciated trees cling on to every precipice you pass,

among plants with pockmarked petals and poisonous stems,

and, as you speed through,

both intimately connected and completely detached

from the landscape of sheer, sublime hostility,

you wonder if you’ll suffer the same fate of falling

as the limbless branches,

lying like littering debris

in the isolation of an unchartered ravine,

unwilling to spare or shed its secrets.


But, if you look very closely,

you can see

the length of a highway

mirroring a path through the stars,

the wilderness oblivion of possibility,

like a desert plain

snaking to the epicentre of a canopied trail,

and watched by the passengers on a restless sleeper train.


I feel I might have passed that way too,

awake until daylight

then too tired to move,

and I struggle to remember if I made that trip alone:

third year on the road – still looking for home.


Instead, there was the brief delusion of substitution

in a gloomy gallery

dedicated to achievement and progression,

an artefact of all things artificial:

warehouses hosting cubist figures and manmade machines,

scaled-down towns constructed of mirrors,

telegraph poles fashioned to look like trees,

an air-conditioner simulating authentic summer breeze,

circulating in a surgically cleansed atmosphere

but eventually joining vapour trails

scattering on the western wind,

the otherworldly labyrinth of steel and glass dissipating,

transforming into rural England.


I look round again to find

a second familiar shadow once more walks in stride,

side by side

every ticking second.

The uncharacteristic desire for abandon

is suddenly overwhelming.

I want to run out into the road,

fearing no threat of imminent collision,

throw up my arms to meet the downpour,

savouring the stain that spreads across the heavens,

bringing with it thunder

and an atmosphere charged with the eastern promise

of Indian summer,

reaching some destination at last

in a city decorated by dizzying colour

and strange sounds from twisted strings.


I feel the intensity and heat,

the healing effect of each falling droplet

as the moment rises to crescendo

and the clouds give out a final moan,

before diminishing into the distance.


When it’s over,

we stand by the roadside,

you and I together

and somehow alone

with each other.

We stroll towards the sun

as it dips from the horizon,

watching our reflections growing longer,

then disappearing entirely with disconcerting urgency.
 

And on a bridge, in spectral shade,

a train performs its practiced part,

slowing towards the station,

spilling a new set of stories onto a crowded platform,

and then – as though indifferent – moving on.

Always moving on.

Offline Mossive Attack

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Re: Mark Charlesworth - Further Away from Home
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2009, 01:42:20 PM »
Mark - to my shame I wasn't aware of your work...until now!

Loved the extract from the new book, it seemed to voice a lot of the feelings I have but obviously in a much more eloquent way.

I had no idea of Word Soup at the Continental, although I have been there and love the pub, but will try an make it up there.

Best of luck with the book and hope to say Hi at some point in the future...
The artist formerly known as Rob-M....

Offline Wickerman

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Re: Mark Charlesworth - Further Away from Home
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2009, 08:47:52 PM »
Hi Rob,

Thanks very much for your kind words about the new work.  I'm guessing, since you know The Continental, that you're relatively local to Preston?

The Continental has a great atmosphere, and I'm really looking forward to hosting the launch there tomorrow.  I couldn't quite believe such a perfect place existed when I stumbled upon it.  It was odd that after several years of living in Preston, and complaining frequently that there were no fantastic pubs to call 'my local', we found this the night before I moved to another town (!)  Thankfully, I'm only down the road in Lytham St. Annes.

Feel free to drop in on the launch tomorrow night, if you're free.  If not, not to worry.  Will hopefully see you around at a Word Soup, or some similar event, in the near future.

Cheers!  :D

Offline Bert

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Re: Mark Charlesworth - Further Away from Home
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2009, 01:14:02 PM »
This is great stuff. The first one made me cry  :cry:

I'll def be buying your book  :D
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Offline Wickerman

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Re: Mark Charlesworth - Further Away from Home
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2009, 09:24:46 PM »
Quote from: "Bert"
This is great stuff. The first one made me cry  :cry:

I'll def be buying your book  :D

Hi Bert,

Thanks for your support - pleased to hear you got something from that poem.  It's the first one in the book and one of my favourites.

The book is now officially on sale - more info about that on http://www.amazon.co.uk/Memory-Real-Tre ... 460&sr=1-2
 
Amazon (US) : http://www.amazon.com/Memory-Real-Trees ... 524&sr=1-2
 
The collection can also be bought as an ebook for just £2.99! : http://www.lulu.com/product/download/in ... es/5591399
 
Discounted, Signed Copies : People interested in buying a signed copy of the book - at a discounted price - are invited to get in touch with me on mark.charlesworth@hotmail.co.uk to arrange a meeting, seance or paypal transaction.

I'd like to thank all of you guys for your support - as I was saying to gr8gonzo recently, there's really nowhere quite like this forum, where people are gathered with as much of an interest in one another's endeavors (rather than just bitching at one another, like on many message boards) as enthusiasm for Frost*.

Offline Wickerman

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Mark Charlesworth - In Memory of Real CHRISTMAS Trees
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2009, 11:21:30 AM »
If I was a musician, it would be dodgy Christmas single time, except this is a festive experiment with a twist. I gave myself a bit a brief to write a poem with all the key Christmas ingedients, but in keeping with the melancholy, social concern of the new book... in a very short space of time. This is what came of it:

IN MEMORY OF REAL CHRISTMAS TREES

Winter skies are redolent in Jade:
the blanketing twilight,
the soft cascade,
the omnipresent artist
brushes oil-paint guiding stars,
perhaps accidentally
or styled by symmetry.

The sparkle of frost* in early December
turns hasty footfall into a delicate exercise,
subtle endeavours to remain upright.
Family democracies are unwound, uptight
as figures dress trees in every other window -
curators of haphazard exhibitions for curious strangers,
freed from inhibitions by discount liquor.

Though it should be fairy-lights
and 'Fairytale of New York',
Cruel Melodies play
the solemn stories of Somewhere Else:
the harmony of disparate, wistful hearts
gazing into space on Christmas Eve.
Some with nothing but the mysteries of a brown paper bag,
grimy nails, cracked fingertips.
Some tucked in a nest of plush bedlinen,
a stuffed animal clutched beneath the sleeve.

The table is set for ten.
One place remains empty,
half a pair divided
and garnered with pity,
but we smile and raise a glass all the same
to dedicated festivities in anonymous names
with talk of religion, indulgence, excess;
the memory of a figure in a wine-coloured dress,
hair tied with ribbons;
the memory of forests, singed by fire,
bare branches, black barks,
perched precariously beneath a burning sky.

Words choked, eyes misty
for every lost soul
and all that we're missing.

A muffled voice from another time
lingers with comfort despite waning confidence.
A wheezing old man raises his hands,
says we've all made mistakes,
some things we can't plan,
but if you think for a second
of our last Christmas together,
you'll surely want to make this year the best you can.

Offline gr8gonzo

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Re: Mark Charlesworth - In Memory of Real Christmas Trees
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2009, 04:16:42 PM »
Very, very nice.  But, you misspelled frost*. =)
...and I can feel the world is turning...turn around

Offline johninblack

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Re: Mark Charlesworth - In Memory of Real Christmas Trees
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2009, 05:53:23 PM »
Quote from: "gr8gonzo"
Very, very nice.  But, you misspelled frost*. =)
I'm awfully sorry but I couldn't resist. * added. :D
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Offline johninblack

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Re: Mark Charlesworth - In Memory of Real Christmas Trees
« Reply #13 on: December 25, 2009, 05:55:10 PM »
Very good effort by the way, you can have an A grading for that, it would have been an A+ but for the missing *, lol. :D
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Offline Wickerman

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Re: Mark Charlesworth - In Memory of Real Christmas Trees
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2009, 09:30:59 AM »
Quote from: "johninblack"
Quote from: "gr8gonzo"
Very, very nice.  But, you misspelled frost*. =)
I'm awfully sorry but I couldn't resist. * added. :D

Of course!  How silly of me!  I should add the Frosterisk (tm) permanently, since I get away with mentioning 3 song titles in there!  1 of them's pretty obvious... anyone spotted the other 2?

Thanks again for your kind words  :D .  I didn't want this one to be quite as dark as some of the stuff in the book (hence the title), but I think I'm a bit like Steve Hogarth (there's a clue to the song title question there) in that everytime I try to write something happy, it ends up being about death and (frozen)water!