Mark Ward’s debut collection Thunder Alley was a semi-autobiographical account of the diversity and divisions within his hometown of Blackburn. The Visitor’s Book expands on this theme, exploring the relationship between people and their environment. It collates and chronicles the overlooked, the ordinary and the remarkable: the things that pass and those that endure, into a rich seam of narrative poems.
"Vivid, sharp, memorable observations of the places that have touched Ward's eye and heart; the tone is characteristic of the man; poems worth reading!" Jack Mapanje
Named after a former town-centre street, Thunder Alley is a remarkable account of contemporary Blackburn and its people. This is a place where, in the author’s hands, even the mundane seems extraordinary, from the disabled veteran Mr Brown who escapes into a jigsaw; the Polish Barber unable to forget, to the genial tramp who simply vanished.
The language is fresh and immediate; the poems are lucid and by turns, harrowing, stark, playful and wise. It is Blackburn, but you could be anywhere.
Buy Mark Ward’s Thunder Alley and you won’t be disappointed.
These drawn-from-life poems are sharply written, deftly observed and shot with humour.
What more could you possibly want?
John Hartley Williams
This is the world as we know it, or think we know it: the focus is intense and compelling, but always eloquent and lyrical. The narratives are full of unsettling detail, edgy and profound,
but compassion underpins everything. This is a moving collection, full of wisdom and insight, beautifully crafted, it holds a mirror up to the world and says: look, this is what we are.
These poems are stubbornly human in the face of inhumanity, and infused with that hint of the Romantic, where even as despair and emptiness is faced unflinchingly they rage utterly against the dying of the light.
An eclectic selection of poems taken from a number of publications including:
Life in my Living room (1993) and The Dark Unquiet Hills (1995).
Mark Ward has heard the music [of the Heights]. Composed of wind and mist and solitude. It keens between his lines. Listen…’
Rebecca Chesney/Mark Ward
Pamphlet: Art/Poetry. 32 pages. £5.00
Sharing stories of childhood holidays in Morecambe prompted the joint venture that is ‘Five Rivers’. This collaboration between a poet and an artist is much more than nostalgia. These photographs, and the installation that they accompany, reflect the biological richness of Morecambe Bay. Rebecca brings a scientific mind to her creations. She has collected and tested water samples from 18 points around Morecambe Bay, a site of international scientific significance. The results form the installation, creating a contemporary picture of the area to both reflect and balance the narrative of Morecambe, as described in the poems.
Mark’s poems react with Rebecca’s work, giving a context that is both richly personal and universal. Mark charts the resort’s heyday and decline, from the construction of the power station to the advent of the package holiday. He measures this change in shifts of rhythm which mirror the increasing pace of modern life, before applauding its current renaissance.
The people are returning. This book, and accompanying exhibition, is a tribute not only to Morecambe Bay but to a generation that is managing to put the magic back into the places of its youth.
Mark Ward with Ann Dinsdale and Robert Swindells
Paperback 73pages. £3.99
Hendon Publishing Co Ltd. 2007
I.S.B.N: 978 0 860671 60 2
Website designed, developed and hosted by Michael Webster
To hear Mark Ward read some of his poetry from Thunder Alley please click any of the links below; to read a selection of the poems from any of the books, click on their cover.