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Hove-to is a State of Mind, Mark CarsonTitle of pamphlet black lower case about a quarter of way down and right justified. Below this, left justified, is a full colour rectangle of illustration that extends over about seven eights of the width of the jacket, about 2 inches deep. The predominant colour is blue, and features a boat, indistinct but probably moore. Blow this, small and lower case, the author's name is right justified.

Wayleave Press, 2015  £5.00

Poetry that pulls me through it

Mark Carson’s great at drawing me into a story. His poetry is so natural it’s almost invisible. It doesn’t intrude. I like this. Instead, many of the pieces feel propelled forward – either by narrative or motion – and take me tumbling with them.

Here’s how the first poem starts:

You always knew that something was up
if the wireless played music. Just music.
Michael the Dutch meat-marketing economist
came down to the fence as he always did
to exchange a lack of information.
     (‘Coup’)

I’m so immediately, conversationally, drawn in. I love especially that ‘Michael the Dutch meat-marketing economist’. So specific. So odd. He’s instantly real to me. And yes, I want to read on …

‘Cherangani’ is a poem enhanced, for me, by the fact it’s almost all one sentence. It relies on its lineation to guide us. Again, this pulls me into and then down through the poem – like following a thread, which tugs us onwards:

They were there when we wakened
in the first light as we thought it
as the bell birds called in the thorn scrub
and the mists dissipated 

Or take ‘Lying Hove-to is a State of Mind’, which also has its own tilting motion – one exactly reminiscent of the sea swell it embodies:

Mark time, this world goes nowhere.
It tilts, it tips, was there a time
when it did not? Try to remember it
and fail. World
without end.

This is no coincidence. Our almost Herman Melville-esque poet doubles as an ocean engineer. Motion is always present… even, at times, when it seems to be absent. Here’s ‘A Message from the Southern Ocean’:

The wind died days ago,
there’s not a ripple on the surface,
but the swell still breathes.

Charlotte Gann