Blackbox Manifold No.19

There’s a terrific start to the New Year over at Blackbox Manifold with Issue No. 19 now up online. Four poems from my new sequence about men and war are here, along with work from Tim Allen, Claire Crowther, Ian Seed, Helen Tookey, and many others.

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The Scores

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I’m fair tingling with excitement to have two new poems in this. ‘Men Looking Across Rivers’, and ‘Men on Call’, join work by Moniza Alvi, Melissa Lee-Houghton, Christie Williamson, Wayne Holloway-Smith, and many more. This is the third issue of The Scores, the journal of poetry and prose based at The University of St Andrews. Huge thanks to the editors, Patrick Errington and Rosa Campbell, for a magnificent job.

Review in the House

I’m incredibly pleased to see Spearmint & Rescue reviewed by Aoife Lyall in the latest issue of The Interpreter’s House.

Some of the highlights include:

‘A timely collection, Mark Russell’s Spearmint & Rescue opens with ‘The Girl of Boscastle’. A seemingly innocuous poem depicting the once-harmless hobby of people-watching, it reminds the reader how, with the rise of social media, the habit has become an unhealthy one; the drive to efface ourselves in our eagerness to construct and ascribe exaggerated narratives to those around us. An attempt to order and control a world that exists in increasingly unified and fractured states, Russell’s remedy for this epidemic of social deference is a collection that epitomises the intrinsic worth of the personal narrative; a call to move beyond the compulsion to ‘increase the prospect and consequence/ of love, of terrible loss and grief’ of others and to give quarter to our own lives.’

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‘The concept of existing between two states of being is poignantly revisited in ‘Aisle Seat’. The speaker contemplates a recent funeral while sitting in an emptied cinema, waiting for the credits to finish ‘because I want to see who did what for whom’. His desire to create a ‘mixed media collage’ from the ashes is a powerful one, and the poem finishes with a sense of loss and regret that is devastating in its simplicity; ‘saying none of this out loud until/ the credits had rolled and everyone was gone.’

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Spearmint & Rescue…reaffirms what is rapidly being lost: the value of the individual experience; the value of ourselves.’

My thanks to all involved at the House, especially Aoife Lyall and editor Martin Malone.

Review – The Frogmore Papers

There’s a lovely little review of Spearmint & Rescue in the current issue of The Frogmore Papers [No. 89].

Jeremy Page writes: ‘‘Mark Russell’s first collection dispenses wit and wisdom in roughly equal measure. The starting point of a Russell poem is often some mundane encounter or incident, but the beauty and craft of this writing lie in the unpredictability of what follows. In this accomplished debut, poems characterised by wry observation consistently ring true.’