Mark Fiddes: Featured Poet

I was really pleased to place Mark’s poem about Franco’s tomb, In the Valley of the Fallen, third in this year’s Frogmore Prize. Here are a couple more of his poems, including one about a shed!

Mark Fiddes Photo1 copy
Down among the Shedmen
For the Shedmen of Wandsworth
It’s the month of great hunkering
Winter, grey and skinny, loiters
Like a hoodie round the corner
With his pisshead mate Christmas

The Shedmen fist their mugs of tea
As sweet and brown as the allotment
Where they sit on good spade days
Hunched in busted plastic chairs
Banished from marital patios

The Shedmen mustn’t grumble
Between retreat and armistice
They hint at bold escape plans
In their voluntary Colditz
Watched by poplars still as sentries

The Shedmen poke the idle smoke
From bonfires that can’t be arsed
To rage or dance flamenco
Stoking up dreams that smoulder
In the green damp snapping fire

Yet still they believe – in rhubarb
Swiss chard and monogamy –
Folding each sodden day back
Into itself with loam and hoe
In sombre geometry

(Runner up in this year’s Charles Causley Prize judged by Andrew Motion)

The terrace at the end of the world

I live in a fragile house
Rain blisters the windows
Wind wolfs at the casements
Doors burst into their frames
Electricity surges like a wildcat
Scratching out filaments and fuses
Gas sleeps rough in Victorian corners
The boiler chokes and heaves like a keeled beast
With its burden trodden into the muddy road
Beside which we freeze, refugees from sleep
Awaiting the milkman’s sodding whistle
That at any other dawn would mean
Execution by a drunk firing squad
But today signals the all clear
Even if it’s Lloyd Webber
He twitters, a distant hit
From Cats or Les Mis

Born and raised in Northamptonshire, Mark Fiddes now lives in London after spells in Oxford and Washington, D.C. When not stuck on the Northern Line, he works as a Creative Director and magazine columnist. Over the past year his poetry has won prizes in the Philip Larkin, Charles Causley, Gregory O’Donoghue, John Clare and Frogmore Awards. He has also been published recently in the Southword Journal, anthologies for Templar, Fish and Lightship Publishing as well as the Human Rights collection In Protest and the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2013.

6 thoughts on “Mark Fiddes: Featured Poet”

  1. Wow! some great lines in these poems – love the bonfires ” that can’t be arsed
    To rage or dance flamenco” and I think the last stanza of this poem is fantastic – the sense of still believing in rhubarb, swiss chard. It makes me see why my dad might have spent so much time in his shed on his allotment “stoking up dreams”. The terrace at the end of the world – I somehow found this very moving and love how you can read it many ways – those last three surprising lines are a masterpiece. Thanks for this great read on a Friday morning.

  2. Congratulations to Mark for placing 3rd in the Frogmore. I am here sitting under a maple tree in my back yard enjoying both of the posted poems. Agree with Valerie about the last verse of the shed poem. And I love the first 6 lines of the end of the world poem – and how the “fragile house” is beset by the wild beasts of various kinds!

  3. The Shedmen are an account of men such as Stanley Spencer might paint. Comedy clings to them yet their plight is sadly truthful. However there is nothing fugitive about them – they are emphatically real and present. This elevates them…

    The Terrace on the other hand is a tale of a conspiracy from a fabulous fabulist. More please.

    1. Dear Charity, you have put your finger on exactly what it is about Stanley Spencer’s work that makes the paintings so iconic. Thank you for the insight. More fables on the way.

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