Malcolm Carson

Malcolm Carson: Featured Poet

Malcolm Carson


As from the forest floor
the song breaks into bud,
slow, certain in the night air.
It runs from a single voice
and webs the throats
of the gathered throng,
surges into bloom,
pulsed by drummers.
From their midst a dancer emerges,
salutes the audience
then dances with the elegance of petals
demure, each movement
as sinuous as the turn of song.
Outrageous then the cock of the walk
who stomps around her
parodying her sweet restraint,
a rampant Chauntecleer,
hat skew-whiff, acrobatic
in his carnival, his burlesque of mating.
And like the maid enticed
but not submitting
she dances on, sublime,
her eyes and movement
seemingly untouched
yet knowing all too well
the part she’d play
in life’s longer dance.


Malcolm Carson was born in Lincolnshire. He moved to Belfast with his family before returning to Lincolnshire, becoming an auctioneer and then a farm labourer. He studied English at Nottingham University, and then taught in colleges and universities. When in Lincolnshire he edited the regional literary magazine Proof and organised several series of readings featuring leading poets. He now lives in Carlisle with his wife and three sons. He was a founder of Border Poets which has run several series of readings in the past few years with an emphasis on small presses. He has reviewed for Other Poetry and Critical Survey. Breccia, his first full-length collection, was published by Shoestring Press in 2007, followed by Rangi Changi and other poems (also from Shoestring Press) in 2010. He is a co-editor of Other Poetry.

6 thoughts on “Malcolm Carson: Featured Poet”

  1. I think this poem is amazing – it “wowed” me from beginning to end and I want to keep reading it. Not least because it reminds me of the sounds and colours of Nepal which I visited in the 60s and also brings back a vivid memory of hundreds of peacocks dancing and wooing each other in Udaipur in India – not in a forest but by the side of the lake.

    I love the use of words like “orchidacious”, and the skew-whiff hat and burlesque stomping of the male. And the wonderful touch in the last lines, their simplicity and mystery of feminine awareness. I can feel, smell and hear this poem and wish I had written it. Thank you for such a good read – I’ll go on the lookout now for more of your work.

    1. Thanks, Valerie, I’m so glad you like it. The moment itself was very powerful in the contrast between the beauty and elegance of the girl’s exquisite movement and the raucous behaviour of the man that I was concerned I might not be able to capture it, but it may be that I have.

  2. Ah. I just googled and found out where “Chomrong” is! Great title. And I also love “orchidacious”. I like how you show us the two characters dancing, and how they (and us too, I suppose) are all part of the action on the big dance floor of life. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, Elly. Chomrong is wonderful and the people very welcoming but as in a lot of places in Nepal they depend on a combination of hard graft and the trekking trade whilst still maintaining these wonderful traditions. ‘Chomrong’ just one of a sequence.

  3. Really lovely poem Malcolm. I love the stomping ‘cock of the walk’ and ‘dancing with the elegance of petals’ – the whole thing is a delicious mash of colour and movement. And I now know where Chomrong is!

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