Thursday, September 22, 2022

'With The Great God Pan in Whitby'

The Irish literary magazine Poetry Bus edited by Collette O’Donoghue and Peadar O'Donoghue bears on its masthead a Mark E Smith quotation: “If you’re going to play it out of tune, then play it out of tune properly.”

The latest issue, Poetry Bus 10, includes my 16-line poem 'With The Great God Pan in Whitby'. This was inspired by one of the memorable occasions of the original Arthur Machen Society, a weekend in the North Yorkshire harbour town when Mark E Smith, singer and songwriter with The Fall, joined us, with his girlfriend. We met at The Angel, where Machen had stayed, and explored other places associated with his visit.

MES was a keen Machen fan and wanted to hear about the Welsh writer’s stay there during the First World War, as a reporter investigating rumours of suspicious activity on the cliffs. There was nothing in the reports, but instead Machen filed pieces for his paper, the Evening News, on ‘Wonderful Whitby in the Moonlight’, and on the town’s famous trade in jet jewellery. The stay also inspired his atmospheric story ‘The Happy Children’.

The poem recalls some of the, er, interesting incidents of this Whitby encounter with MES. 

This well-designed paperback offers 55pp of contemporary poetry from a diverse international line-up.

(Mark Valentine)


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