Next Generation Poet 2014
Mark Waldron’s debut collection The Brand New Dark is a book about sex, eyes, eggs, dogs, death and sausages. It is a book concerned with our loss of faith in language, a book about our place in the world, about sex and love and a pair of puppets called Dougal and Florence.
This surreal, absurd and entertaining collection mixes the formal with the colloquial, the tragic and the comic, the intensely personal and the comically detached, in a style which is startlingly original without being obscure.
Funny, dark, disconcerting and moving, often all at the same time, the poems are refreshingly direct, spoken in a way that seems to implicate the reader in their situations and discomfiting stories. The Brand New Dark is above all an entertaining collection of accessible poems. A book for all the people who don’t like poetry as well as for the people who do.
‘Mark Waldron is the most striking and unusual new voice to have emerged in British poetry for some time. His offbeat observations and surreal imaginings are set off by a precise management of tone and mordant sense of humour. There is much black comedy in these poems but at the same time it becomes evident that a deeply humane sensibility is at work. His great gift is to face two ways at once: to our received culture, traditional and popular, and towards odd new ways of imagining ourselves. He brings to bear a sharp ear for the absurd coupled with a sure footed clarity and grace of speech. This enables him to write unforeseeable wordplays and images. In this way, his work captures exactly the uncertain mix of what it is to be a person living today – I really cannot recommend it highly enough.’ —John Stammers
‘The Brand New Dark is a marvel of charm and curiosity. Mark Waldron's poems are generally short, crisp and lyrical, but they are driven by a phantasmagoria of garrulous creatures, spectres and shapeshifters, alter egos and alluring women. This is one of the most original and memorable debut collections for many years.’ —Roddy Lumsden
‘This is urgent, thought-provoking poetry – one of the most important debuts for a long time.’ —Clare Pollard
‘Dreams and the body, and their interaction, perhaps the most dominant themes in this weird and wonderful debut collection with its egalitarian blending of mind and body, self and world... Waldron is particularly skilful at pushing an image through its own bizarre logic towards an unexpected and pleasing finale... this striking collection ultimately triumphs, reimagining life’s imponderables as vibrant and tangible – and delightfully kooky – the ‘world’s bright juice’ running through it all.’ —Emily Berry