These poems may sometimes pretend they’re joking but they never really are. And what is it they’re not joking about? Death for one thing, and the fact that we don’t actually know who we are, and the fact that we don’t truly know who our loved ones are, or what art is, or anything else for that matter.
Sometimes it feels as though someone has run off with meaning. It’s no longer to be found where we could once expect to find it, perhaps in religion or in nature or in art, and these poems set off in search of it. Their aim is to see if there’s a way of looking and a way of using language that can bring some meaning back to the world, because without it, we’re lost.
Meanwhile, Trees is Mark Waldron’s third collection, following The Brand New Dark (2008) and The Itchy Sea (2011), both published by Salt.
‘Clearly, Waldron has enough wit and imagination to sink a battleship, but perhaps the most interesting thing about his work is the use to which he puts features widely disseminated in contemporary poetry: randomness, whimsy, play and inconsequence…. When Waldron exploits these traits and turns them inside out, he shows an impressive elegance and rhetorical power, sustained despite a blizzard of broken registers and bits of this and that. His work reveals an authority it might at first seem far from seeking. The outcome is poetry that might count for something.’ – Sean O’Brien, Guardian
‘His special skill is comedy, but not the standup sort. His speakers expose themselves self-accusingly, defiantly, or bashfully, while at the same time seeming snug as bugs in their tightly interlocked chainmail of precise language…. And there lies the delight of the collection: it gives us a rare sense of the Elizabethan richness of an English that’s available right now. Underneath the defamiliarising ingenuity, the political pretension-pricking and all the narrative verve and swerve, the diction is the real star of this invigorating book.’ – Carol Rumens, Observer, Poetry Book of the Month [on Meanwhile, Trees]
‘Waldron’s poems are good at building a world, scaling out from close-ups of small objects to galactic constellations that absorb and skew their more recognizable scenes and references’. – John McAuliffe, The Poetry Review [on Meanwhile, Trees]
‘This quite astonishing collection should certainly be placed in the library, but carefully, with the most quizzical, ironical and independently-minded of older students directed towards it with glee: they will never have read anything quite like it before.’ – Frank Startup, The School Librarian [on Meanwhile, Trees]
‘Mark Waldron is the most striking and unusual new voice to have emerged in British poetry for some time. His offbeat observations and surreal imaginings are set off by a precise management of tone and mordant sense of humour. There is much black comedy in these poems but at the same time it becomes evident that a deeply humane sensibility is at work. His great gift is to face two ways at once: to our received culture, traditional and popular, and towards odd new ways of imagining ourselves. He brings to bear a sharp ear for the absurd coupled with a sure footed clarity and grace of speech. This enables him to write unforeseeable wordplays and images. In this way, his work captures exactly the uncertain mix of what it is to be a person living today – I really cannot recommend it highly enough.’ – John Stammers
‘Every so often you forget just how good Mark Waldron is. Then you read a random poem and end up hissing "damn" like a thwarted villain.’ – Kirsten Irving