Mark Roper, with his new book of poetry -Even So : New And Selected Poems – is a great achievement and a welcome recognition by Dedalus Press of how far poetically Mark Roper has come since moving to Piltown from the UK in 1980. His quiet style of nature poetry opened a fine furrow with The Hen Ark (1990) and continued to strengthen with Catching The Light (1996) and the impressive Whereabouts (2005) and we now have the best of these works along with new work, Even So, in a beautiful collection. You can feel the landscape turn into mythic and iconic status. Cahill’s Hill has taken on a whole landscape of meaning since Whereabouts:
Love for these things
Becomes the prayer
You offer to all
That is not thing.
And now in Even So, it is still there, a natural constant; Keeping the wide world wide a while.
A new poem like The Crossing, shows you and surprises you with that fine delight good poetry must have. It opens
One day you will walk down a road
You’ve walked down a thousand times
and you will follow the poet until:
The words will be taken
Clean out of your mouth.
Then you can sense how immense is the seemingly narrow universe this poet chronicles like – the silence inside a sloe – and then the powerful realisation:
How you will wonder
What you ever did before.
That poem hit me like a train in a tunnel, with the clarity, the ordinariness and then the shock that confronts you and makes you question what you ever did before.
Birds take on new meanings and restore tired lives and in the quiet poems you feel restored and made new, made clean, refreshed by a poet at one with his thoughts, his words and his special universe of verse.
In a poem like Someone Else, you again get to feel the sense that words make of thoughts where a small intimate moment is lost in the immensities of another’s thought. Mark Roper even makes all ray rain a beautiful sharing of –
All day the world licking its skin
Washing its face like a cat.
A poem about familiar winter visitors to Tramore, Brent Geese, is a meditation on knowing your place in the scheme of things. There is a new sadness in this selection that I seem not to have noticed before and a beautiful poem like In Praise Of Pottering, has a measured resignation in its closing lines –
Very little happens for a clear reason
It is not our fault we grow old and die.
While A Day represents a lifetime:-
Where the lake is
A mirror which
Again and again.
Truth is, there is so much happening in Mark Roper’s poetry.
The book will be launched at a reading in Greyfriars Gallery at 5pm, Saturday 25th October, during the Imagine Festival.