Malcolm Carson

Gifts and other goodies

I love to come home to A5 brown envelopes – the kind that are thick enough to contain a book or pamphlet, not thin enough to be a returned submission. This last week or so I’ve opened three such envelopes and have been chuffed to see the books and am grateful to the lovely poets who sent them: Derrick Buttress, Malcolm Carson, Alison Hill.

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A while ago I read through some of Malcolm Carson’s poems from Cleethorpes Comes to Paris. There is the obvious connection between us, Malcolm kindly endorsed Snow Child three years ago, but there’s the less obvious one – we were both born there (sadly Cleethorpes, not Paris). I was whisked away within weeks, not sure how long Malcolm stuck it out. The sequence of poems is published by Shoestring Press and recalls a trip to Paris of times past. Leaving from Calais the narrator says, “Pardon, monsieur, / quelle est la route à Paris”. Carson mixes what we know of Paris – Sartre, Gauloises, the Metro with a glimpse into its seedier side:

Round midnight when we saw her
haunched to piss, the pavement
flowed until she upped her drawers

alert now to our approach. Clochard,
we said, held back, watching
her embarrassed shadow skulk
against the Sorbonne’s gothic walls.

(Clochard)

Some great writing and my favourite lines have to be:

I caught him at the Gard du Nord
boarding the train for Cleethorpes.

(Chez Popoff)

I’ll leave the last words to Nigel Jarrett at Acumen and report on the other two books soon.

“Musical, resigned sensuous… So persuasive is Carson’s voice”.

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Malcolm Carson

Malcolm Carson: Featured Poet

Malcolm Carson

Chomrong

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,
orchidaceous,
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.

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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.