Erodes On Air
by Mark Goodwin
Mark Goodwin is a poet-sound-artist, and has been making poetry & fiction in various ways for over three decades. He has published six full-length books & seven chapbooks with various English poetry houses, including Longbarrow Press & Shearsman Books. Both Mark’s books with Longbarrow Press – Steps (2014) & Rock as Gloss (2019) – were category finalists in the Banff Mountain Book Competition. Mark’s poetry was included in The Ground Aslant – An Anthology of Radical Landscape Poetry, edited by Harriet Tarlo (Shearsman Books, 2011), and his idiosyncratic landscape poetry has since been studied in various UK universities. Erodes on Air is Mark’s first title with Middle Creek, and his first title in America.
Mark is a balancer, walker, climber, stroller ... and experiencer of place. He often climbs in the English Peak District; sometimes on sea-cliffs in Cornwall or in Wales; and he is a devotee of the mountains of Snowdonia, the English Lake District, and the Scottish Highlands. Mark was born in 1969 in Oxford, and brought up on a farm in the south of Leicestershire (in the English Midlands).
For the last twenty or so years he is has lived on a narrowboat, just to the north of the city of Leicester. Mark tweets poems, and photo-poem combinations from @kramawoodgin …
… and his sound-enhanced poetry can be listened to at:
"In Erodes on Air, we are invited into a landscape of stone and snow warmed through with wit
and Goodwin’s singular eye for the world and ear for its song.
These poems make and break and remake language and the world it wants, would, hold, examine, pronounce, occupy, articulate, be. They sustain and inform each other. It’s not the land we glimpse through the playful and ingenious language at work here, it’s language itself glimpsed through the land, scape, weather and ways, until they become indistinguishable, symbiotic, where semantic clarity gives way to fracture, allusion, echo, chance, pattern and revelation.
What erodes here are borders between language and land, between experience and experienced, between what can be known and what can be said. It’s a remarkable experience and the reader is left with more than the sum of their senses."
Seemingly simultaneously hewn from granite and whispered from the gossamer-glot of glaciers, these poems swiftly persuade the reader to slow down and take another look . . . at everything we thought we knew of language. Mark Goodwin’s innovative breaking and rearrangement of words reveals by disrupting the presumed flow, and makes the mind revert to revaluation, much in the same way a solo climber’s mind sums up options with fingertips, calculates grit and grip and tests tentatively for the way forward.
Goodwin’s poetry offers a new approach to reading poetry, one which mirrors adventurous route-finding. The brave reader finds his own passages between the poet’s lines, as snowmelt might in the geological phenomena of split and slipping slabs of stone, finding patterns of sedimentary strata in disrupted lines, which make of words diaphanous, multi-textured things, things we know but experience anew . . . and it is in that split-moment of open mystery as the mind scrambles for purchase, the reader arrives at a splintering of meaning and expectation, a technique which lends mystery to the journey of reading, the poem opening up before you as the pathless wilderness does the holy wanderer without map.
To those uninitiated into the way this added poetic device functions and the gold it offers, there may be momentary discomfort. In Goodwin’s spare and minimal lines, the same unknowing moments of the rock-climber for whom the next finger or toehold seem elusive, are experienced again and again. There is a danger in these poems which only exists in the mind, and one may be tempted to turn back and go no further. But those who persevere, who accustom themselves to the vulnerability of uncertainty, of not-knowing and still seeking, scrambling, reaching for the next, solid, coherent thing that feels right, will experience so much more than if these lines were rendered as prose sentences laid out squared as the polished steps of the capital building.
These are not monuments with brass cast signs, these are mountain moments lived through the mind.