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John E Marks

Twitter: @ydidunyway
Updated: 1 day ago

Contact via WOL



I was born in Altrincham in Cheshire England. I lived in London for over ten years and now live in Monton in Salford. I am English, my wife, Martina is Irish. We have five surviving children who I love dearly and who give me much hope for the future. I worked for The Open University for 30 years teaching literature, linguistics and history. I have survived cancer and sepsis. I love reading poetry from the past mainly British, Irish and American: Chaucer, Donne, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, Blake, Plath, Yeats, Adrienne Rich, Denise Leveroff, GM Hopkins, Larkin, Owen, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Emily Bronte.....the list goes on. I try to learn from these poets of the past as well as from many of the poets here on WOL: David, Jacob, Rachel, Taylor, Stu, MC, Cynthia and many others. I try to remain open minded and do not often write from a purely personal perspective. I attempt to give a voice to the voiceless: the dead, persecuted minorities especially the Ezedi from Shingal in Iraq, people lacking formal education but with much wisdom. I write for a wide audience and I hope that I treat my reader as an intelligent collaborator in creating the 'meaning' of the poem. The poet, through innovation in both word choice and form, seemingly rends significance from thin air: as in my favourite poem 'Sailing to Byzantium' by the Anglo-Irish poet WB Yeats: I That is no country for old men. The young In one another's arms, birds in the trees, —Those dying generations—at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies. Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unageing intellect. II An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing For every tatter in its mortal dress, Nor is there singing school but studying Monuments of its own magnificence; And therefore I have sailed the seas and come To the holy city of Byzantium. III O sages standing in God's holy fire As in the gold mosaic of a wall, Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre, And be the singing-masters of my soul. Consume my heart away; sick with desire And fastened to a dying animal It knows not what it is; and gather me Into the artifice of eternity. IV Once out of nature I shall never take My bodily form from any natural thing, But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make Of hammered gold and gold enamelling To keep a drowsy Emperor awake; Or set upon a golden bough to sing To lords and ladies of Byzantium Of what is past, or passing, or to come. W. B. Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium” from The Poems of W. B. Yeats: A New Edition, edited by Richard J. Finneran. Copyright 1933 by Macmillan Publishing Company, renewed © 1961 by Georgie Yeats. Reprinted with the permission of A. P. Watt, Ltd. on behalf of Michael Yeats. Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989) WORDPRESS: RECENT BOOKS: 'A waste of time' 'Shadows and Dust'


SONG FOR THE OLD YEAR Redemption comes at such a cost Freezing winds off the Irish sea Blow me away from hearth and home At such a cost - loss pressing on loss - Yet still the winter-birds sing, Seemingly so carelessly, And we know it costs them their whole life To fly this way and sing and eat and build and build Yet still this merely human, framed of earth, Cannot scrape away the curse of discontent: Sitting solid as a rock, squatting squarely On the chest where a bird would build a nest Then fly high high into the blue skies of summer So far, far away from this deep and dark complacency. DRINKING WHERE THE RIVER BED IS DRY Charlie and I have walked our post-cancer walks Down this narrow stretch of green in the city For a full decade now. We’ve aged together But not like malt, we’ve blended into each other, Man and Dog. He recognizes the smells, me the sights, And his life is shorter than mine. That afflicts me like A sentence. Very few minutes pass Without me thinking of that. He connects me to the Pack, little knowing that the human herd is what I find Most offensive, most absurd. I try to fly past those nets Of race, nationality and religion. A new Daedalus come To cry: “my medium is the heavens, my medium is the sky.” But we walk slower and slower each day, me clearing Up his shit, him watching the dreary Manchester sky. ............................................................................ THE STOLEN CHILD I remember falling as a child And being lifted by a fairy-wild She kissed my cheek and mussed my hair And then she wasn’t there. Some blind folk see the faeries clear For faeries are always close or near. Oh, better far than what we see Are faeiry wings that brush our faces Like spiders’ webs or shimmering laces Such magical, lovely, lonely things. A rustle in the wind reminds us A faeiry sprite is near. Shush! Do not scare her She is full of fear until her night is spent Her tears upon the pillow-scent… The crow she sings her lullaby as harsh as harsh can be But the golden faeiry goddess makes it so lovely for me. ............................................................................

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.

Audio entries by John E Marks

The dying of the light (12/12/2018)

Lancaster (10/12/2018)

Identity theft. (10/12/2018)

The price of coal (09/12/2018)

Killing off the Elephants (07/12/2018)

Fear in a handful of dust (07/12/2018)

stormy weather (04/12/2018)

A judgement of conscience (02/12/2018)

The Moor's Last Laugh (01/12/2018)

The Buddhas of Bamiyan (01/12/2018)

More audio from John E Marks…

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Thu 29th Nov 2018 22:54

Good evening John.

When I have time I will dive a little deeper and Immerse myself in your work.

Thank you for your support and comments

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Big Sal

Fri 23rd Nov 2018 18:35

Thanks for everything, John.

I also appreciate the shout out on your newly-typed up biography for WOL.

We can all stand to learn something from each other.🎇

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Taylor Crowshaw

Wed 21st Nov 2018 21:19

Thank you for your comments on The Dance John, it is wonderful to read the perspectives seen in our work, from another's view. Taylor

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Big Sal

Sat 20th Oct 2018 01:16

I'm glad you like the piece John, not many people did. As for all the great work you've been posting up, I can only hope you preserve them in some additional way as they are something special and deserve recognition.

Keep on writing my friend, and good health and wishes to you and yours. 👍

Be well.💪

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Martin Elder

Sun 30th Sep 2018 10:25

Thanks for your words John. I always look forward to reading your work and I love your sample poems which are good reflection of what you write. I totally understand what you mean about a dreary Manchester sky as I live in the area myself.
Keep writing and posting my friend
all the best

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John Marks

Fri 31st Aug 2018 10:55

Thank you to all of you kind people who have taken the time to comment upon my scribbling. Kindness is, for me, the greatest, and most under-rated, of the virtues. Thank you Big Sal for planting in my head the possibility (I was going to write 'positing' but that's a very silly word) that I might be around at the end of time. Has my head spinning that. I love to read poetry, I read everyday if possible, and I try to learn from other poets of the past and present. I really admire the work of the deeply unfashionable, Anglo-American, Anglican poet TS Eliot:

“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?”

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Big Sal

Thu 30th Aug 2018 15:04

Here's hoping you keep writing until the end of time John.👍

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Frances Macaulay Forde

Fri 17th Aug 2018 03:00

G'day John,
I've bought and read your Kindle chapbook 'A Waste of Time' and do not consider it so... I enjoyed it!
Especially the more personal poems like 'Children' or the 'Photograph'; the very sad 'Words that I forget' and 'Rainy September'.
Unfortunately I no longer buy books but only Kindle versions because my house is FULL! So although I would like to have purchased it, apparently 'Shadows and Dust' is only available to read on Amazon's app - which I don't want.
You are a favourite so I shall keep an eye out for more on WOL.

<Deleted User> (13762)

Mon 30th Jul 2018 08:36

Hi John
astir in SW Wales
this side of the Atlantic
travels on hold . . .

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Darren J Beaney

Mon 11th Jun 2018 19:27

Hi John

Thanks for the message, it was a pleasure to read your work. I love the idea of thoughts forming like an Oxbow lake. Terrific!

Having just read your profile -
I also love the way you have kept those 3 years going!


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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Sun 15th Oct 2017 11:55

I appreciate your interest and your comments. I always consider very carefully suggestions from fellow writers. And I have benefitted hugely.

But, in the case of 'The Dreamfooter', I would not now make alterations. It has been twice published and three times presented in spoken poetry 'programmes'.

I often make changes years after first 'writing'. Just not this time.

Thanks much. And, please, never hesitate to challenge anything I write. That is real 'sharing'.

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Mon 10th Jul 2017 12:43

Interesting how 'history' is essentially 'story' as opposed to 'records'. The account itself, or at least the slant of it, depends on the person/s reporting of the happening/s, personal interests and the effective result/s. Records are then hugely influenced.

Point of view must always be a cautionary background to 'history'.

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Dominic James

Mon 13th Feb 2017 13:40

Hi John

Just come across your home page and blog, I hope the collection is going well, let me re-word comment on Byzantine - I retreat rapidly before your superior knowledge!

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Tue 14th Jun 2016 12:51

I'll make an effort to check more of your work. I like your ideas. Besides, my eyes work better now.

I live in Sale. You might like to try the WOL evening at Sale Waterside which meets next Tuesday; it's a widely varied group, and very friendly.

I'm going to be so embarrassed if you've already been out and I've not recognized your name.

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Patricia and Stefan Wilde

Thu 26th Aug 2010 22:05

Good evening John-'Fog at sea'..brilliant! your work is a 'must read' without doubt-and very much intend to do so-hope your health improves and quickly-thank you John-best regards-Stef

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Ann Foxglove

Tue 27th Apr 2010 00:31

I think your poem is really good. I esp like the last verse. To be able to write about this sort of subject in such a no-nonsense straight way makes it all the more touching. Hope your better health continues and hope to see more of your stuff on WOL.

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