Friday, 23 November 2012

A Poem for Football Managers

Inspired by Chelsea but could be about a lot of clubs.

Press Conference

I am the new Chelsea Manager

I’m excited to be the boss

We’ll take one game at the time

And win everything, even the toss.


I met the boys this morning

And they’re all over the moon

I laid down the law as I see it

And I’m sure we’ll play better soon.


The training session was lively

And sometimes emotions run wild

Yes,  I might have called him a muppet

But then he acted like a spoilt child.


I don’t think I’ve lost the dressing room

Players should keep off Facebook and Twitter

And let their football do the talking

Instead of tweeting words that are twisted and bitter.


I wasn’t aware Mr Abromovich  said that

I’m sure that’s a misquote

He said the board were right behind me

And I’d been given a confidence vote.


I’ve just been sacked as Chelsea manager

I gave it my best shot

I’m physically and emotionally drained

So I’m off for six week with the millions I’ve got.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Festivals and continuing education

So August has been a slower time for me with an emphasis on planning, getting bids and applications in and networking as I gear up for the return of schools in September.

I performed at a lovely festival last weekend near Limavardy, Northern Ireland called Stendhal
This is the first time I have been flown in somewhere to perform so it felt very rock n roll. The weather was kind to us and at about 9pm there was the most gorgeous pink tinge to the sky. You could hear music and appreciative audiences everywhere and it inspires this poem which i dedicate to Ross and the rest of the team who did such a brilliant job putting the weekend together.

Keep writin' and recitin'

Mark x

An August Night

Give me an open sky and let it be Irish;
pregnant with music, magic and
the kisses of angels.

Give me one evening that slows time,
opens hearts until they bond and
share the same beat.

Give me nips of whiskey between songs,
shy smiles from girls I should be too old
to notice, and above all,

Give me a memory of tonight that
will never fade, and one last sweet note
that rings for ever.

Friday, 27 July 2012

A Poem for the Games

A Poem to celebrate the Grand Opening of the Games
(Written under the stringent "Brand Protection" code)

All Hail the *********,
Shining ******* in the
firmament of *****.
Cast in ****, ****** and ******
The ***** show mankind as
****** and ******* and *******!

Run ******!
Jump ******!
Be *******!
And carry us with you to *********
Every four *****, your ***** completes
Like a comet, trailing ***** in your wake

And from there,
we can ***** the *****,
We ******.
We *******,
We *******.

On your *****!
*** ***
and on the B of the ****!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Southwold in the wet!

It’s been a busy time recently, writing poems for Olympic torches etc and before I know it, Latitude festival is upon us and I headed towards Southwold for my favourite large scale festival. Whereas most festivals of this size feature music, music, music with a bit of arts, poetry, comedy etc thrown in, Latitude is definitely an all-round festival with fashion shows, classical concerts, ballet, literature and of course poetry.

I haven’t yet been to Glastonbury to be able to compare and contrast but there seems to be such a range of things to do with comedy, cabaret, live literature and poetry programmes stuffed full of interest, wit and entertainment.

Luke Wright does an amazing job of programming three stuffed-to-the-gills days of poetry which featured headline sets from the likes of Tim Key, John Hegley, John Cooper-Clarke, Benjamin Zephaniah and many more besides. I had the honour of launching the Literature Tent on Friday evening and then introducing Rob Auton and Johnny Fluffypunk. As the festival was just getting going, the tent quickly filled up and it was standing room only and all our sets went really well which was an excellent advert for the poetry arena which opened the next day.

I also took part in the Poetry Takeaway where Poetic “Chefs” prepare poems in fast food style for punters. I ended up writing poems about tiny pets that could be smuggled into school; casting a drama student as Princess in her own fairytale; a poem for a female rugby player and writing poems to celebrate birthdays, first times at Latitude and two poems that encouraged people to make big life decisions without knowing anything about them. I also really enjoyed writing poems to be mean or have a laugh at someone’s expense on behalf of other people (I wrote disclaimers on these poems as one of them was a barrister!)

One of the last poems I wrote on my shift was for a guy who wanted to celebrate the rain because although we all moaned about it (and there was a lot of it to moan about!) he said people had a sense of camaradie as they helped each other (“Be careful! That must be really sticky as there’s an abandoned welly there”) and noted a sense of abandon late at night as people danced in the rain and had a wonderful time. I really liked the poem I come up with and so I’ve reproduced it below. Thanks to Tim Clare who had the idea of Poetry Takeaway and Show and Tell who run it so well.

So, dedicated to everyone who came to the party at Southwold in 2012 I give you

A Little Latitude

In England, we treat the rain
like the lover that drives us crazy
but we can’t live without.
We rail when she’s here,
pine when she isn’t and
ache in times of drought.
As the rain pounds down like
the riffs of 60s’ Rock and Blues,
with a bass line shocking the chest
as a cardiac arrest,
no-one cares, but dances
like the world ends tomorrow.
Lone wellingtons promise us,
if we look hard enough
we will find our Cinderella in the mud.

Keep writin’ and recitin’


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Happy Father's Day

A poem for Father's day but especially those who have lost their Dads in the last year.


My first Father’s Day without him
and I’m tasting a big
Rocky Road cake of emotions
served on a plate with paper frills;
the soft, the sweet
the crunchy, the zesty
the nutty and the sharp.
There will be brothers to call
and that feels like something
Dad would be pleased I did.
Though he always did kept us
guessing about approval.

His last birthday, we hired a hotel
and held a Yorkshire Cream Tea
(which is like a normal Cream Tea
but with a dozen gobstopper scones each)
and Dad wore the most ridiculous frilled shirt;
a shirt you’d only wear for a bet
or if cast as a low rent Austin Powers,
but it was Dad making an effort
ten years after Mum was around to
guide, hint or simply say
“Over my dead body”!

In review, I now see the first flirts of illness,
the early misfiring of organs
but I missed them at the time
hidden by that shirt and his best teeth.
Dad, proud and independent till the last.
I haven’t tried to forget
but neither have I tried to remember,
until today.

So although he wouldn’t approve
there will be tears;
regrets will be dusted off one more time
and I’ll probably think
about that shirt,
frills on a man who had none.
Love and families are indeed
a rocky road
but worth the effort.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

What an amazing day! Radio 2Day Part 1

It is now five days since I was the “Bard of 2Day” on BBC Radio 2 and the smile is still on my face whenever I think of my time spent as part of the Radio 2 family. I received so many messages of support as I tweeted, facebooked etc. that I felt I owed a fuller version of events to those who were sharing in the experience. I’ve decided to break the blog into two or three episodes as there is so much to share.

The day started bright and early as I set THREE alarms in the hotel (My phone, the TV and I placed an early morning call) to make sure I didn’t sleep in on the big day. As it happened, waking up wasn’t the problem; getting to sleep was! I was so excited and looking forward to the day, I couldn’t sleep so read, watched TV and did some work in between unsuccessful attempts to nod off. In the end I got about three hours sleep but managed to get up at the sound of my first alarm call.

Ablutions and breakfast completed (in that order) I headed off to the studios, a ten minute walk away. On entering the sixth floor there was an immediate buzz about the place as a band new to me called The Musgraves (who are brilliant, please check them out) were sound-checking in preparation for two live broadcasts. A quick tour of the studios and facilities included a brief introduction and handshake with Graham Norton and then to Lynn Bowles (Morning Travel Guru) and Alan Dedicoat. It was a strange being introduced to strangers whose name and voice you knew so well you felt they were already friends. I’m pleased to say that everyone I met was friendly and delightful, in spite of such a big undertaking as 2Day which inevitably caused some disruption to their usual routine. 7am was soon upon us and we were off!

The idea of “2Day” was to give a taste of the breadth and depth of the station whole content squeezed and squashed into one 12 hour period with a different presenter each hour giving you a taste of their show. If you like what you heard, you then know when to tune in to find them next time. I was mainly based in an area that usually acted as the Green Room for visiting guests but for 2Day was the live performance area. The sofas had gone and the Elton John grand piano was pressed into service and as the day was live streamed on the website there were also plenty of cameras which led to the unusual need for a make-up specialist for the radio!

Soon it was time for the Musgraves ( to be the first live performance. I was amazed at the sound they made so early in the morning. They performed their forthcoming single “Comfortable Shoes” as well as a cover version and you can see the performances on the 2Day Based in Birmingham, the band consists of Matthew, Tom, Matt and Lesley-Marie and they appear to play dozens of instruments between them. After they performed, I performed a poem for them “The Lozells Prayer” which is about Birmingham and they really liked it. They will be touring soon and I highly recommend you seeing them live.

Graham Norton’s hour finished and he handed over to Zoe Ball whose live singing guest was Clare Teal, a radio 2 presenter herself as well as a renowned jazz singer. Her performance of “Get Happy” was bright and zesty and a great way to carry on the buzz everyone was feeling, especially around the live performances.

It quietened down in London for the next hour as the first of the outside broadcasts took centre stage. Tony Blackburn, live from Blackburn (I bet he’s glad he isn’t called Tony Falklands!) I started to work on the poem that I would be broadcasting whilst listening to the studio feed. I was completely unprepared for the goddess that is Paloma Faith performing live, but that is the next instalment!

Keep writin’ and recitin’


Monday, 14 May 2012

Manchester Utd poem

Dear Manchester United fans. No offence meant but you've had it your own way for about a dozen or so years so it's time to man up and take a little teasing.

Manchester Untied (sic)

Is there a sight more joyous
Than United in second place,
Or Wayne Rooney’s smug millionaire grin
Wiped off his Mr Potato Head Face?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Review "Wizard" by Dominic Berry

Review “Wizard” by Dominic Berry The Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone 1st May, 2012

“Wizard” is the first theatre show from Dominic Berry a Manchester-based performance poet. Let me start by declaring an interest in that I’ve met Dominic on the Poetry Slam circuit and we have expressed admiration for each other’s work. However it is a giant leap from poems performed in three minute segments to a 75 minute stage show that features heavy use of rhyme. So, can a poetry-based show engage an audience for an extended period? Well in my opinion, this show doesn’t just engage; it’s a triumph.

“Wizard” starts off as a story of a “normal” person encountering his strange neighbour locked out of his flat. Taking a chance to help him, they form an odd couple friendship where one does the regular 9 to 5 routine which starkly contrasts with Wizard’s world inhabited with talking kettles and magical quests. It is an indication of the strength of writing and performances that the use of rhyme enhances the story without being clunky. Ben Jewell offers an excellent foil in supporting roles that allows Dominic Berry’s central performance as the Wizard to fly.

What starts out as a tale with quirky charm takes a darker turn when you realise we are not in the realms of Harry Potter but in the world of anxiety-induced agoraphobia.  The creation of a world of spells, carpet-goblins and keeping score in quest gaming style is a safe haven from a hectic, violent modern world and who’s to say that isn’t preferable sometimes? Poetry has often been used as part of the healing humanities and in “Wizard” a sensitive subject has been well researched and forms the backbone of a moving and sometimes unsettling story. Life is sometimes unsettling and these episodes are well acted and the feeble attempts at “care” by a stretched to breaking public service highlight the feeling of helplessness that many must feel.

Excellent lighting and sound effects thoughtfully support the changes in mood and tone to produce a great theatrical experience. This is a wonderful show with lots to commend it and it is currently on a limited tour.  You should go and see it while you have the chance. Yes it is that good; in fact it’s wizard!

Monday, 30 April 2012

The last NaPoWriMo poem...and relax!


Read me in threads.
See me in precise stitches.
Take in the text
lovingly woven
and specially chosen.

Find comfort in patterns,
decipher the colours
and look for the deliberate blemish
that is
my trademark.

Turn me over,
See how neatly worked I am.
Hold me in your hands
and see if you know me
or what is meant by craft.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Penultimate NaPoWriMo poem


Sometime after the storm
optimistic freshness set in.
Skies that could be on the Simpsons
wipe the weather slate clean.
We can go out now.
We don’t want to but
the thought that we could
make things seem better.
Light takes on healing qualities and
shadows seem friendly,
losing their sinister intent.
It’s another Sunday evening
with dinner to come and the
final juice of freedom to be squeezed
from the weekend.
Another cycle,
the same old, same old
and contentment pervades
like the smell of the Sunday roast.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

NaPoWriMo 28/30 Grief Encounter

Grief Encounter

Just when you think the waters are safe,
that there’s air to breathe
and walking upright is normal again,
it strikes.

A freak wave,
or rogue wind
turns you cartwheels
with a sucker punch.

Today Dad came calling
and I’m breathless,
head swims in an
ether-induced haze.

If nothing exists in a vacuum
how does nothing
manages to hurt so much
leaving scars on scars?

As is the way of the English,
I fight fire with tea,
dunk biscuits the way my
mind soaks in memories.

But you can’t drink tea
with a stiff upper lip.
As I sip his voice echoes
and a smile returns.

Not at a remembrance,
but how awkward he would find this;
emotion, outward displays of affection
and the lack of decent biscuits in the south.

Friday, 27 April 2012

NaPoWriMo 27/30 Triplet Poem

This poem is a triplet. Three stanzas of three lines of three words


She is sunshine,
beams and vitamins,
rays and warmth.

He is rain,
deluge and downpours,
advancing cold fronts.

Do opposites attract
and can they
weather the storm?

Haiku for Jeremy Hunt NaPoWriMo 26/30

A bit of a cop out I know to do a haiku but yesterday was my launch event and it got incredibly busy.

Breakfast at Jeremy Hunt's Residence

"Toast darling"? She asked
"Yes", he resignedly said,
 "I probably am".

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

NaPoWriMo 25/30

Mischief Winds

The rain gods came today;
showed their glowering faces
and puffed out cheeks.
The signs had knocked our door
had we been more astute.

Disturbed air,
a feeling of unease
and rippled shadows
made us wish we had  
crossed our fingers.

They’re out there now
weighing options.
Are we too small
for their powers
or will they taunt us?

So we draw blinds,
lay lines of salt
across thresholds
and whisper songs
forgotten since childhood.

We will trust to light now,
tend fire as if an orphan,
Swap secrets in the glow
and test truth
with the fragile flames.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

NaPoWriMo 24/30 Poem "Golden"


They were in the middle of a comfortable silence.
An epic, comfortable silence.
So far it had lasted three and a half years.
Each day they woke and bit their tongues
To prevent spoiling their wordless cocoon.

Six months in, he had taken a breath to tell her
He was so wonderfully happy
At how comfortable their silence was
But she caught it and her eyes flashed both lightning and love
Letting him know she knew and saying it might be a jinx.

They left notes for each other
Magnetically pinned to the fridge,
Rediscovered the art of love letters and
found depths to themselves in silence
they would never have found by talking.

He had once left a note suggesting they learn to sign
But she thought that would be cheating and
somehow the silence would know.
So they read each other day by day
Looked deep beyond the other’s soul.

Each day became a dance to the music of rests
Of expanded hearts and anchoring love.
 They disconnected the phone,
Cancelled the cable and hid the radio
At the back of the closet.

Finally, he had to tell her and let it all out.
It was like a soufflé collapsing.
Wordlessly she packed and left,
Crumpled and airless
Wondering how long the next one would last.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Latest NaPoWriMo poem 23/30

That Time

There was that time
we got the good table
by the window with the view
and the sunset was ours to share
or not.

There was that time
we were given free
champagne and you drank
both glasses because I
was driving.

There was that time
the moon turned somersaults
just for us
because it said
we made him happy.

There was that time
we waited until
sunrise, then
turned our backs
pretending we didn’t care.

There was that time
with the butterflies,
like huge, unwieldy
homemade kites
landing on our hands.

There was that time
we remembered there was that time
but we couldn’t remember
how the story ended
or even if it had happened to us.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

NaPoWriMo 22/30 Children's poem

Eggs on Beans on Cheese on Toast

The meal I like to eat the most

In the town or on the coast

Every day, that is my boast

At posh parties when I’m the host

Order by email, phone or post

I’d fight anyone, even ghosts

I prefer them to Sunday roast

‘Cos it’s the food I love the most


Saturday, 21 April 2012

NaPoWriMo 21/30

Café Antonia (and other fallen soldiers)

It’s strange to think
there are places on the planet
that you can pinpoint
exactly where you where
ten years ago.

Her birthday and a recommendation
from a friendly hotel receptionist
led to not just a meal,
or an experience,
but a story.

We wouldn’t have been brave enough
viewing the exterior,
and a French Moroccan restaurant
in Spain?
We paused.

But it was one of those rare times
when you felt the planets aligned,
the heavens had deigned to favour you
and lady luck greeted you
with a big, wet French (Moroccan) kiss.

Waiters, atmosphere, décor, wine, food, prices;
characters in a narrative
told many times.
We sent many on the pilgrimage.
All came back believers.

Now our memories are just two ghosts
trapped inside the corpse
of another failed business.
We ask a local,
“It’s complicated” he says.

Tonight, we will light a candle;
remember that first tagine,
wine charged by the centimetre
and waiters who showed chefs wiped-clean plates
that promised hope for the English after all.

Friday, 20 April 2012

NaPoWriMo 20/30 Latest poem


We are the faithful,
waiting for sun.
We believe in the sun,
we know the sun,
know beyond doubt he will be here soon.
We have felt his love,
our skins show our devotion:
from the lobster of new disciples
to the deep mahogany
of long time apostles.

While we wait for the sun,
we discuss the sun;
the time he appeared yesterday
and how glorious that was,
how clouds tried to thwart him
but because he loves us so much,
he overcame the clouds
and blessed us with his presence.
We drank wine and broke bread
and rejoiced by the taking off of clothes.

Some were baptised in the pool
and others just donned sunglasses
in honour of him, overcome with thanks.
It is late in the afternoon now
and still we keep the faith.
Cream and oil waits to anoint us
towels lie ready to be our shrouds;
surely he will not disappoint us today
when we love him so fiercely
and have spent so much on air fares?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

NaPoWriMo 19/30 Seven degrees

Seven degrees

If the “Seven degrees of separation” theory is true:
That every human being on the planet
Is only six steps away as a
Friend of a friend of a friend
Of a friend of a friend of a friend,
How come only fourteen people
Turned up to my last gig?
By my calculation, that is over
seven billion dropped balls,
or un-pulled out fingers.
Incompetence or apathy on a massive,
Epic, worldwide scale.
Shampoo sales must have been
through the roof that day;
head and shoulders above
all previous records.
Or perhaps they all stayed in to watch
Simon Cowell’s latest programme
As their souls were swept to hell.
Just a thought!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Today's Poem from Tenerife

Girl, undressing.

Today in Tenerife, it is twenty-four degrees
with a little too much sand in the sky.

The girl is working, setting out her
kaleidoscope of dresses, tops and shifts.

When she is ready,
she announces the parade.

On one chair is an unfeasible number
of garments for one girl to wear.

The other chair crouches silently
waiting for the discards after their solo.  

She begins. Parading by the pool
in elegant toe-first steps.

Ten metres to the right, back to centre.
Ten metres to the left, back to centre.

Appoaching base camp, without breaking stride
her hands cross just below the waist and

grasping the hem, in one single,
upward fluid stroke, she has undressed.

Men become meerkats, staring and storing 
her tall, tanned, toned frame

now dressed in only
bikini and high heels.

Just as quickly, she shucks on the next dress
and for an hour repeats the cycle:

To the right, to the left,
undress, re-dress.

It is a lifetime of one night stands
enacted in an hour.

Afterwards, men buy their women
tops and dresses from her.

Penance for their wishes
to have been an audience of one

just once in a faceless hotel
in any anonymous town.

As she leaves they would say,
“I don’t even know your name”.

“Rebecca” she replies,