Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Mark Goodwin, Steps


if you are reading
this walk imaginatively
rather than actually

walking it then there is
only one certainty

this is a poem (“From a St Juliot to Beyond a Beeny, / a Walk in a North Cornwall”)

I only recently secured a copy of Steps (Sheffield UK: Longbarrow Press, 2014), Leicestershire, England poet and sound artist Mark Goodwin’s fourth full-length poetry collection. According to his author biography at the “Writing East Midlands” website, “He has a reputation as a landscape poet, and as a poet of being and doing. Mark is a walker, climber, balancer, stroller, and an ‘experiencer of place’ … much of his writing reflects this.” Engaging with the tradition of ‘walking’ appears to be a uniquely British tradition (see also: Tony Robinson’s 2013-14 BBC series Walking Through History), very different from, say, Frank O’Hara’s strolling around poems or Baudelaire’s flâneur, although closer to what Vancouver poet Meredith Quartermain explored through her Vancouver Walking (Edmonton AB: NeWest Press, 2005). Goodwin’s poems in Steps are composed as long, steady stretches; extensions of sound and rhythm, writing first person movement and white space in a crisp, precise lyric. “I watch my imagination swirl / with my dirt down a plughole,” he writes, “my seed bursts hollow // my thin sick imagination is lit / only by the sun’s setting to the west / I am a silhouette // my knowledge a skeleton [.]” Goodwin’s are lengthy extensions; long lines set as a sequence of short lines and staccato stanzas. There does seem as much consideration for rhythmic visual space within these works as considerations for sound, his first-person meditations rolling and strolling down pages worth of contemplation:

shall an I see
a glint

shall I see
a lost

nestling gleam
at bottom

of mind
how will

I breathe I

from water
shallow but
utter other

no further
no more

an I can only

see a solid
world through solid
eyes I see

through moist

organs of solid

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