Saturday, June 9, 2018

Ludlow bells are calling!


Well, yesterday was a fine day for a poet; a trip to the beautiful Shropshire jewel, Ludlow and a recital by previous poet laureate and national treasure, Andrew Motion!

Andrew is currently reading his latest work 'Essex Clay' which I found of considerable interest as I was born in Essex and attended Braintree college when I was eighteen. I have only spent three years of my life there in total but I know parts of rural Essex and it's coast.

Essex Clay is a biographical long poem about about life, love and loss, an intimate narrative that I felt very privileged to hear from the author's own lips.


Today is another literary one at the first Montgomeryshire Literature Festival. It is situated at Bodfach hall near Llanfyllin and promises to be an absorbing day.

The weather appears to be getting up steam now. Although I don't have a Ludlow poem (yet) I do have a summer one set near my old stamping ground near Allscott in Shropshire, home to a large part of my childhood. It recalls an idyllic time that seems so very far away now, but that is the beauty of place, and a place which remains unchanged.

The Aqueduct

In August haze we'd barefoot down
Through dandelion and daisy grass,
Toward the river's lazy brown
Where swan and coot and moorhen pass.

Our place below the Aqueduct,
Where iron framework high and dry,
Stood cattle mired and puddle ducked,
Black against the summer sky.

With cautious toes in velvet silt
We waded where the milkers drink,
Our pleasure pool where Telford built
A highway making waters link.

Still it stands to bridge the stream,
The Aqueduct and Longdon's pride
Where once we, in a childhood dream,
Stepped softly by the river side.

I also got to take a selfie with Alfred Housman (well, kind of.)


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mark Bardsley's Crazy ANIMAL POEMS out now!

Yes folks, after grafting away in my burrow all winter I am now able to release my book of crazy animal poems. It is a full colour larger format (6"x"9) paperback containing 55 humorous poems about animals and their antics. It has a small back section with a few poetry hints and tips and 6 blank but illustrated pages for aspiring poets to use (hopefully the page footer illustrations might provide some inspiration). The price is £12.99 and it is only available from Amazon or me if you can catch me at a live drawing or book signing event.
If you would like to host a book signing event, do contact me at bardsleyart@gmail.com

My next Book signing event will be on Saturday, May 26th and Monday May 28th (bank hol)
at Coed y Dinas Country Store, Welshpool, SY21 8RP. 10.am till 5pm.

Hope you enjoy it and I am always grateful for a written review if you purchase it from Amazon. The next book is already in the planning stage!


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Mrs Flossy Cotton Bottom

I'm rapidly approaching launch time for my new paperback 'Mark Bardsley's Crazy Animal Poems'
so here is a taster. This one is a bit Beatrix but a bit Bardsley as well (the bit that's Bardsley is usually the nutty bit, but you probably already know that!)

The new book will be a soft-back in full colour containing 55 illustrated poems and some secret  writing pages for budding poets at the back.


MRS FLOSSY COTTON BOTTOM

Mrs Flossy Cotton Bottom
Asked me round for tea
But dandelions and thistle down
Are not the food for me.

‘Oh do partake of toadstool pie
And have some teasel tart.’
Dear Mrs Flossy Cotton Bottom
I must now depart.

‘But blue bell batch and cicely greens
You surely can’t refuse?’
Oh Mrs Flossy Cotton
I would rather eat my shoes!

My colon cannot cope with food
That rabbits can digest.
So Mrs Flossy Cotton Bottom,
                     Fare thee well, ‘tis best.








Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Shropshire Summer Poem


Here is another poem from my steadily growing Shopshire material.

This one is rather more cheerful than  'High blue air' featured in my last blog. It is based on fond childhood memories of one of my favourite bird watching haunts near the little Hamlet of Rushmore in the parish of Wrockwardine.
It was a place where I could regularly watch kingfishers and still, for me, any day is a good day if I've caught a glimpse of  these bejewelled marvels.

I'm also working on a compilation of my illustrated animal poems to release as a hard copy paperback so I will keep you informed on that score too.

If you are feeling cold take heart -  'Sumer is icumen in' (The Cuckoo Song, circa AD.1260)

The Dazzling Brook

All along the dazzling brook
The velvet bullrush forests high
Where willow veils and twisted crook
Are heaven wrought on earth and sky.

The Emperor unfurls his wings
And with the courtly damselfly
Pavanes above the mayfly rings
Where dappled trout keep watchful eye.

The listless breezes laced with scent
Of may and honeysuckle sweet,
Strike the scene of spring now spent
To lay the summer at my feet.

Marsh marigold (a thousand suns)
Warm the Heron's patient feet
That tip-toe where the crayfish runs
And beetle boatmen take their seat.

Tufted ducks in centric flight
Divert the launch of startled rail
While Jays with sleeves of sky blue bright
Rob thrushes of their lunchtime snail.

The circumscribing whirligigs
Go giddy in the glimmer-glare.
Great crested grebe's fine periwig
Resists the flow of noiseless air

But now here speeds the brightest star,
A meteor of sparking blue
That flashes through the culvert bar
To clasp the Alder, wet with dew.

Fishgig poised with focused gaze
Upon the scintillating fry,
Held ready on this best of days
To dive and spear before my eyes.

All along the dazzling brook,
Are denizens bejewelled and fair,
The pages of a secret book,
Illuminated, rich and rare.


By the way, if you like this illustration it is in fact composed of various elements from my card craft cd series  available from Card Hut (see the link on my website)www.markbardsleyillustration.co.uk


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Poetry on Shropshire

A Shropshire Child.

While things have calmed down a bit and feet are being warmed by fires I have been writing poetry about Shropshire where almost all of my schooling took place.

Initially inspired by a fresh look at Alfred Housman's iconic work 'A Shropshire lad', I decided that it was time to write seriously about this fascinating county where, to be fair, I spent far more time than Housman did ( he was in fact reared in Worcestershire and rarely set foot in Shropshire).

Only 16 of the 63 Housman poems in 'A Shropshire lad' actually reference Shropshire and only 15 specific Shropshire locations are referenced in total - that's less than the amount in one of my Shropshire poems!

The problem and dare I say, disappointment for me and possibly many other readers is that, rather than being a series of odes to Shropshire, the collection is rather introspective and melancholy and has very little to say about the County itself.

My self appointed challenge then, is to write 63 poems (I was born in 1963) all of which reference or are inspired by my relationship with Shropshire, its landscape, life and history.

Here then, is a first taste of that effort. Humour tends to be my area but I am thoroughly enjoying writing something a little more weighty. I haven't decided how I might publish this material yet but let me know if you are interested or would like to pass any comment.

The high blue air

Give me days in the high blue air
Where the tide of care recedes,
Where my feet stand firm on solid ground
And my heart no longer bleeds.

Let me lie on a counterpane
Of scented mountain green,
To follow the lark's ascending flight
And see the things unseen.

Catch me when I fall to earth
In the honeyed heather soft,
Where the swifts and martins multiply
Like arrows hurled aloft.

Where whistling swallows dart and dive
At the mayfly's fractured light,
Let me lie and sink in deep
Till the fall of velvet night.

Give me days in the high blue air
When the hovering hawk is near,
High in Shropshire's verdant hills
For I know my heart lies here.

Copyright; Mark Bardsley