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Showing posts from March, 2011

Review: Mark Waldron's The Brand New Dark

The late American comic Bill Hicks once infamously began a stand-up routine with the deadpan line “If you work in advertising or marketing, kill yourself now”. He may well have made an exception for someone like Mark Waldron, a poet who writes adverts for a living. His debut, The Brand New Dark, is far removed from the clich├ęs and superficiality of modern commercialism; witty, subversive, often darkly comic poems which are full of unusual images and curious turns of phrase. But the world which Waldron deftly unpicks is also a bleakly decadent and harrowingly pertinent one, uncovering “The King … in his counting house / not counting out his money, but making some swanky / kind of love to his secretary”, while elsewhere, a man dressed in a Mickey Mouse suit at Disneyland becomes a chilling metaphor for our increasingly isolated and virtual lives.

The success of the book, however, stems from the way in which Waldron handles the sinister, noirish aspects of contemporary life; a darkness wh…

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As anyone with an interest in these things, an inbox crammed with newsletters and notices, and a growing lack of shelf space knows, there are plenty of literature magazines about, plenty of poetry mags among those, and plenty of indie poetry mags among those. When I first started – for my sins – reading contemporary poetry, I took out subscriptions to all sorts, and still do when the bank balance permits. But there really are loads of the things and, while some are certainly safer bets than others, it’s always a gamble as to whether you’ll find stuff to enjoy – be it poems, features or reviews – inside their pages. Will it really be worthwhile parting with your hard-earned dough in exchange for a new sub, even a renewal? Perhaps not, if the mag in question is anything like Pen Pusher who, upon recently folding, told their existing subscribers that their money was gone, and thus, effectively, to get lost and jog on. (Not forgetting the magnanimous invitation to freely “hate” them for i…