Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Poetic People (28): Dr Marc Latham of GreenyGrey and Folding Mirror Poetry

'Tangerine beaks'
Swan Summer Serenade

Those of you who read my blog from time to time will need little introduction to the creator of the Folding Mirror poetry form, Dr Marc Latham of the GreenyGrey website. Marc's eBook is now available for purchase as a download from Chipmunka. You can read my shortened review on the Chipmunka site here, or the full review here on my blog:-

Bipolarity and ADHD to Folding Mirrors: Poems reflecting on the Mind, Life, Nature and Space
Author: Dr Marc Latham

ISBN: 978-1-84991-023-1
Published: 2009
eBook: 112 pages

Publisher: chipmunkapublishing, the mental health publisher
Price: £5 (pdf download)

‘Let me take you on a journey, to the centre of my mind.’ Marc Latham

Have you heard of the GreenyGrey? This reviewer first became acquainted with Dr Marc Latham through his GreenyGrey website, in which he explains how his concept of the GreenyGrey ‘encapsulates the dominant natural colours of the British landscape, with the land predominantly green, and the mountains, rivers, sea and sky usually grey.’

Marc’s writing arises out of the wellspring of his medical conditions. His early poems in the eBook were inspired by rock lyrics on the subject of bipolarity, schizophrenia, paranoia, alienation and depressive illness.

‘I ... felt different and knew that my future would not run as smoothly as that of most people,’ Marc explains. He knew that writing was a definite ambition, but it was his creation of Folding Mirror poems that led to his increasing activity as a practising and published poet.

Marc’s Folding Mirror pieces are formed around a folding middle line. They reflect aspects of the bipolar moods swings that compass both sides of what Marc describes as ‘the fine
line of normality somewhere in the mind’. Football matches (with two sides and two halves), reflections, horizons and equinoxes have all been given the Folding Mirror treatment, along with a host of other subjects, such as science and art.

Early poems, prior to the Folding Mirror ones, demonstrate Marc’s understanding of traditional poetry techniques. The World Beyond Reality, for example, employs rhyming couplets and is structured in quatrains. Other pieces make use of poetic repetition and alliteration: the phrase ‘cirrus castellanus clouds’ occurs in Cloudy Sunset.

Pain is a recurring Leitmotif, but Marc is not afraid to explore positive aspects alongside the sometimes stark realities:

From the pain I want to develop
From the pain I seek to grow

Using pain to create...
(From: Me Driven by Pain)

Some poems demonstrate the poet’s anger and frustration: others highlight moments of great beauty. This reviewer’s personal favourite, Swan Summer Serenade, evokes a magical scene:

Tangerine beaks
are raised and lowered
like snakes charmed
in a solar haze
to wondrous praise.

Marc has a great affinity with the natural world in all its wild and wonderful manifestations. He longs for others to share what this reviewer might venture to call his ‘GreenyGrey’ manifesto, and is prepared to communicate his eco-warrior message in unique and arresting ways:

So goodbye Mr. and Mrs. Manatee
it was nice eating you.
(From: Nice to Eat You Mr. And Mrs. Manatee)

A number of Marc’s Folding Mirror poems are laid out like horizontal triptychs (take for instance Motorway Manic Mind Metaphor and Foundations of Independence). Other poems run vertically down the page, with the pivotal line at the halfway point. The collection includes some fascinating ekphrastic Folding Mirror poems, written by Marc in response to his encounters with paintings by artists such as Blake and Constable.

This reviewer’s favourite poem is Hiking Hadrian’s Wall at Summer’s End. The Roman wall runs through the centre of this piece, stretching from coast to coast, between swathes of poppies and thistles. ‘Poetry’, Marc declares, ‘inspires one to learn a little about many things’, and this collection certainly challenges the reader’s perception of what is black and white - and green and grey.

CG, 2010

Caroline is a member of Disability Arts Cymru, and has six poems in 'Hidden Dragons/Gwir a Grymus: New Writing by Disabled People in Wales', ed. Allan Sutherland and Elin ap Hywel (Parthian 2004).

Dr Marc Latham’s websites:


steven said...

i loved that tiny insight into marc's writing! steven

Marc Latham said...

Thanks a lot for your words and time Caroline, and very pleased that you appreciated the poetry.

Your work and encouragement has been a constant inspiration for the continuing evolution of the Folding Mirror form, and I hope you continue to enjoy it for a long time to come.

As I said in the email, and incorporating a construction metaphor that just came to mind: it makes all the mental digging, word cementing and structure building worthwhile!

Janet Jarrell said...

I dropped by using a link from Marc, and I love the links you have - heading over to Quill and Quire - sometimes we just need to see these things to remember.

Well done on supporting other poets!