I.S.B.N. 978 1 872764 26 9
A short sequence of poems set on and around a street that bears the poet’s name; it’s a candid and affectionate portrayal of the people and changing environment of the author’s hometown.
In the title poem, as in others in this little book, [Ward] cultivates a garden of sturdy poetic plants; they are beautiful, benodorous, they make you smile and cheer you up.
Mistress Quickly’s Bed
Review. Summer 2013
Coleridge Street is in Blackburn, a once thriving Lancashire mill town now pretty much a no-man’s land between Preston, which has risen on its university (money and cosmopolitanism), and the backwaters of east Lancashire where you can buy a house for ten grand and are unknown to the smart kids making their way in New New Labour Mark Ward chooses the name of the street for the title of this pamphlet, because he comes from Blackburn and now works in the Lake District. The long title poem is a delightful experiential time-travelogue through the streets, pubs, clubs and front rooms of the town in the adolescent years. It pricks the illusory bubble of small town dullness and inactivity: there’s as much going on here as in Chelsea or Islington, it just goes on without so much money. Ward’s writing is clear, tight and creates the right pace of movement. His references are charming, hilarious, wry and sometimes tragic. He mentions Dave Cunliffe, that small press veteran of the town, hounded by the authorities, who rightly deserves celebration for his tenacity and lack of conventional ambition. In hundreds of small towns across Britain, young people have found a way to make their lives exciting in spite of the efforts of the official culture to dull them down. Good for them, and good for Mark Ward. In the title poem, as in others in this little book, he cultivates a garden of sturdy poetic plants; they are beautiful, benodorous, they make you smile and cheer you up. This is a collection to carry in your pocket and to take out on the bus (in Blackburns up and down the land) on the train, in waiting rooms or during those long minutes in the modern day first circle, the meeting. It is small and short but its contents are big and enduring.
Alan Dent: Mistress Quickly’s Bed.