Mark Hinchliffe has been writing poetry since he was sixteen. He was inspired to read poetry, and write his own poems, after his English teacher played a recording of Ted Hughes.
Mark has been involved with the Albert Poets in Huddersfield for nearly twenty years, reading there regularly, and also organising readings.
He corresponded with Ted Hughes, who took an interest in his poetry. This led to Mark’s involvement in the Elmet Trust, of which he is a director.
The Raven and the Laughing Head
There’s a lovely lyrical completeness about your poems. So natural and full – they just float out. Something perfect about them. So wholehearted and affectionate. (So rare!) Ted Hughes (Letters of Ted Hughes, ed. Reid, faber and faber, 2007, p.734)
One wintery afternoon in a bar of a pub in North Tawton, with other friends of Ted Hughes, after his funeral, I came to know a young man who had joined us, a fellow guest, Mark Hinchliffe. After that meeting Mark and I kept in touch. Over the years I have read many of his poems. What struck me immediately was the rare gift of seeming able to spin a poem out of nothing. The touch is so light – it could be Chinese.
Mark Hinchliffe writes love poems, praise poems and poems of lamentation and devotion. I am reminded too of a meadow beneath which lie layers of archaeological sites. You might find mythology here, or Sioux history, or fragments of Huddersfield or America. There is magic, anecdote, film history. This breadth of theme is belied by the poems’ directness and apparent simplicity, the intimacy of address, and an innocence that hums with love. These are not ironic poems. They weave myth into both the dark and the everyday with a seriousness and attention that could be prayer.
They carried the stained glass
windows into the mountains
to save them from the fires.
As people burned
a man wrote a book
with pages of coloured drawings
of the Bee Tiger,
the Red-Necked Footman,
the Old Lady,
the Feathered Thorn.
And as the flames came closer
the moths shone brighter,
brought him warmth,
as if each page of colour
was a tiny sun.
And as he began to burn,
as smoke spiralled
from his fingertips,
the moths flew
from the pages,
they filled the room,
carried him away
into the mountains.
The Raven and the Laughing Head, Mark Hinchcliffe, £7
MISS GALE’S GARDEN
Your poems are very moving and pure, your point blank economy of words and your sense of phrasing is everywhere. Ted Hughes
You can never tell where a Mark Hinchliffe poem will go. It may begin with its feet on the ground, in some recognisable place populated by living and breathing people, but it’s quite likely to end up flying, or vanishing, or undergoing some magical or ecstatic transformation … He is an authentic original. Christopher Reid
Thank you for your moving poems. Samuel Beckett
Miss Gale’s Garden
The wall full of coloured granite – browns, yellows, blacks, oranges – glitters as if it sings, so high it keeps the energies inside.
Outside the studio are marble blocks, black and ridged with white peering through. Like chicks inside an egg, surrounded by leaves and feathers they wait for their hands and hammers, chisels and holes; like parcels wait to be opened.
They roll down the garden to the wall like cattle who want to be fed. Their breath spirals through the wall into the streets, like a Twister, and lifts the roofs of houses, as if they are greeting each other.
Witches fly backwards. Cats hang tightly on their backs. Cows fly past them.