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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Niel’

… even if the rose at its centre is black and not exactly a Gertrude Jekyll, or a Dusty Springfield (no – really) or Peace rose.  Though peace is one of the concepts at the heart of the project.  And, come to think of it, more than a fair few of Dusty’s songs apply too.

MK Rose opening 2013

So inevitably it rained for the official opening of the MK Rose on Saturday, November 9.  But were the spirits of those attending dampened?  Maybe a little, though the idealism still shone through – as, inevitably, did the sun as proceedings drew to a close – and hearts were gladdened.  It’s worth mentioning Mayor Brian White’s speech was especially worthy of the occasion.  There were a lot more people there for that than the photo suggests.  Forget all the jokes, there’s a pride to be had in being a citizen of Milton Keynes.  Here at Lillabullero we have got somewhat behind in our chronicling labours of late so (reproduced here with his permission) I think I’ll leave it to the capable hands and fine words of MK’s Poet Laureate Mark Niel to tell what it’s all about:

A Place To Be: for the opening of the MK Rose
by Mark Niel

And so we are gifted a Rose
that speaks of love
and so much more.

A unique space:
from amazing grace
to Olympic gold,

where tales
of triumph and tragedy
are simply, honestly told.

A place to grieve
in that sea of liquid loss
only true love knows,

A place to count the cost
paid too many times
in war’s countless bitter blows.

A place to think
and be inspired
by giants that have gone before;

the inventors and pioneers
that helped unpick the
locks of once closed doors.

A place to be proud
of our citizens
like Jim Marshall, our Father of Loud;

Doreen Adcock, who taught us to swim;
John Newton, a turned round life
captured in his famous hymn.

A place where pillars teach us;
lessons etched
in marble letters,

and whether your faith is in
higher or human beings,
a place to decide “I will be better”.

A place for kisses on Valentine’s day,
for Patron Saints and
festivals of light,

for thanks and tears on Armistice Day,
honouring those who fought and
lost their fight.

A place that will shape
how the world sees us
and how we see the world,

A place for the unexpected;
for May Day dance and
wisdom’s greatest pearls.

Let the MK Rose be
a new member of your family.
There’s only one in the world and it’s ours!

So use it, visit on days
that are special to you
to remember or simply lay flowers.

The city has been gifted a Rose,
a place of reflection and grace.
Let us now own it, make it our space.

If you want more on the background to the project, including some fascinating illustrative material from artist Gordon Young‘s pictorial research prior to producing the designs for his impressive creation (along with some future developments in Campbell Park) then the official website is the place to go:  http://www.mkrose.co.uk/index.html.  You can also find more of Mark’s poems there.  Most of the marble pillars bear an inscription and a date – the blanks are built-in future-proofing – many of local relevance.  It’s a shame they haven’t (as of 18.11.13) kept up with the pillars now actually there on The Rose on the website – for there are more installed now than listed.

JTS 1One I personally was particularly pleased to see included in the quirky pantheon was writer Jack Trevor Story‘s (Click on the picture to enlarge if you can’t read the inscription).  I’ve blogged about his work here on Lillabullero and intend to do more.  Completely in the spirit of the Rose is the text that continues out of sight: JTS 2

In the same vein the pillar for another local writer from another century, William Cowper, gives the full text of his To the Immortal Memory of the Halibut, on which I Dined This Day, Monday April 26, 1784.

Some, including a few local British Legion branches, have objected to the Rose in principle – saying an Armistice Day commemoration has no place being anywhere near a pillar for National Joke Day (as it happens, July IJD1) – but there was a dignified non-religious civic ceremony there on Monday, 11th November, at which the British Legion was represented.  The joke about the International Joke Day pillar is that … well look at the picture (and some very bad jokes were made as part of the opening ceremony).  The point of the MK Rose is to echo what used to be the News of the World‘s motto – “All human life is there” – without the prurience and the paper’s dark side.

Father of Loud & Bernie MarsdenI bet gigging with Whitesnake back in the day (1978, as it happens) rock guitarist Bernie Marsden could never have imagined a day like this (that’s Mark Niel at the back in the photo, him with the poppy).  Jim Marshall‘The Father of Loud’ – was a big benefactor and sponsor to various causes in MK, including the MK Dons, as his business blossomed in Bletchley.  Jim Marshall’s pillar has an electricity plug wired in.  I shall now commit an incredibly corny bit of rhetoric as I tell you that Whitesnake‘s first UK hit was a cover of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s Aint no love in the heart of the city.  Cue pantomime response please.

The Wolverton Silver Band were part of the celebrations – of course.  The melancholy of a decent silver band’s sound never ceases to get to me.  Playing in a marquee because of the rain, some of their instruments added a neat parallel bit of found geometrical art and design to proceedings:

Bradwell Silver Band MK Rose Nov 2013

 

 

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There have always been floods in the fields around Stony Stratford though it’s nothing like the bad old days – even if the official Environment Agency signs by the flood gates on the Ouse have spelt it Stoney for at least 5 years – and this was nothing like 2007.  (Actually flood gates is a bit dramatic: according to the same sign it’s only a sluice – this info added this sunny Saturday morning on Cup final day).  I know it’s hardly Tewksbury but nevertheless it’s still a surprise to find parts of all of one’s regular perambulations under water and impossible (as an – ahem – mature adult) to contemplate continuing on without wellingtons.  Things change so quickly.  Hence, the tranquil scene at the weir near the old Wolverton Mill, that was no more than a trickle not so long ago, at the end of last week:

And on Monday, aswirl, it’s Weir? What weir?

And Tuesday it’s back again:

So much water, here and gone again.  You wonder if the mallard nesting in the tree, the Noah among ducks mentioned in a recent post, knew something.  Certainly it would appear the oystercatchers nesting on an islet in the nature reserve chose their spot well.

Meanwhile, indoors, another barnstorming performance from MK poet Mark Niel last week at a charity gig at the University Centre in MK to celebrate the launch of his new career as a professional poet – which must be good to have on your passport – and his Somewhere south of normal CD.  Billing himself as  a ‘stand up poet’ these days and energetic as ever – though he started with a tie on last Thursday – he’s a phenomenon to behold, close to overdoing the over-wrought maybe at times, but very funny and not without the odd more traditional poetic moment.  He finished with what is now known as “that poem” – a love song to his audience – and you’re getting no spoilers from me on that one.  It’s wisely absent from the CD, which still gives a good representation of his work.  Mark maintains a website – A Kick up the Arts – and a blog (from which this picture is lifted), both with plenty of examples of his work. May he prosper.

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Stony faced
by Mark Niel

From the first scratches of stone on stone
To marks in clay and cuts in bone
From papyrus, parchment, paint on silk
To Guttenberg’s bible and printer’s ink
People have recorded knowledge they gained;
Events and mysteries have been explained.
From classic novels to Winnie the Pooh,
A universe of writers wait for you.
And when you walk through a library door
That world is yours to fully explore.
But where doors are closed, our minds may follow
And saving money sounds far too hollow
When future generations will bear the cost
If their doorway to the world is lost.
So I hope the protest of empty shelves
Makes the purse holders ashamed of themselves.
The lack of books
Speaks volumes.

This poem was commissioned by the Friends of Stony Stratford Library.  It’s in the public domain so long as Mark is credited (and you spell his surname correctly).

Mark Niel is one of the main movers of the MK poetry scene, and recently edited (or ‘reluctantly edited’ as it says on the title page) ‘Reflections from Mirror City: a Tongue in Chic anthology’ (TiC, 2010), which featured the work of local and visiting poets at the Tongue in Chic sessions.  Mark has his own website, ‘A kick in the arts‘, and you can find more on the web by using ‘mark niel’ and ‘poet’ in your search engine; those quote marks are functional, not ironic.  ‘Stony faced‘ was premiered at Stony Stratford Library this morning (Saturday, February 4).  it was one of the  contributions to Stony Stratford’s read-in as part of the national day of action in defence of libraries.

In case you missed it, Stony was the library that loaned out all its books; every book was borrowed, leaving empty shelves – a protest that achieved global recognition (no, really).  The struggle continues.  The ‘Save Stony Stratford Library‘ campaign has a Facebook page.  Lillabullero (this here blog) has two previous relevant posts, the first about the birth of the ‘Wot no books’ campaign, and another one, with more about Stony Stratford and my personal contribution to emptying the shelves here.

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