by Mark Holihan
Like the glass-fronted cabinet in Mark Holihan’s Kent home, There Are No Foreign Lands contains beautifully-rendered fragments from the life of a migrant: “pieces of memories from a place where your face and voice aren’t foreign”. These are poignant poems of travel, displacement, personal and political realisations. Sample poem
Mark Holihan, a writer and graphic designer, is a former Californian who has spent much of his life travelling and is now settled in Kent. He is an alumnus of San José State University where he studied graphic design, creative writing and anthropology. A winner of the Phalen award for both poetry and short fiction, he has also been shortlisted for the Bridport prize, and is published in various anthologies and magazines.
978-0-9932119-8-0. Cultured Llama. PB. 203×127mm. 92pp. May 2016. £10.00.
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These patient, expansive poems take the time to describe what’s felt through what’s seen, what happens, often shot through with a wry, deadpan humour that seems characteristically Californian.
Holihan can wrap a surprising power into apparently straightforward this-happened-and-then-that happened tales, locking in an energy that pulses on after the end of the poem.
What other poet is able to assume such a modest ego? Though he would never express it so grandly, Mark Holihan is on a quest, philosophical, searching for truths, understanding, co-ordinates, and he’s prepared to take risks along the way.
Michael Curtis, author of twelve poetry collections, including
The Fire in Me Now (2014) and Lullaby Dreams (2015)
Mark Holihan is one of the finest unsung poets. Now living in Kent, his is a trans-Atlantic voice, criss-crossing oceans, time and the imagination to bring poignant poems of travel, displacement, and personal and political realisations, through acute visual imagery and ease of language, from locations as disparate as Californian backyards and Egyptian souks. At a time when enforced migration brings daily news of horrors, these poems force us to remember when travel was a liberal pursuit, and international encounters a privilege. He writes with a heightened awareness of us inhabiting a world where beauty and danger co-exist side by side, nurture, succulence, abundance and death trapping all creatures, from butterflies and spiders to our human selves. Eulogies to his loved ones are mapped precisely in geographical landscapes of memory, whilst an awareness of the haunting stillness of the soul is embedded amongst the embellished tapestry of a vivid poetry, and a voice that has come into its own.
Maggie Harris, author of Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning (2012) and In Margate by Lunchtime (2015), has twice won
The Guyana Prize for her poetry, and was the Caribbean
Winner of The Commonwealth Prize, 2014
Mark Holihan’s poems, at once lyrical and conversational, are admirably wide-ranging: geographically, from the tropics to England; emotionally, with their impressive control of tone; and topically, with a broad variety of subjects drawing on a remarkable breadth of experience. This is a richly stimulating first collection.
Professor Jan Montefiore, author of Feminism and Poetry (1987,
2004), Men and Women Writers of the 1930s (1996), Arguments of
Heart and Mind: Selected Essays 1978–2000 (2002), Rudyard Kipling
(2007) and In Time’s Eye: Essays on Rudyard Kipling (2013)