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Primers Shortlist – Mark Cooper

We hope you’ve been enjoying discovering the work of the Primers shortlist as much as we have. Over the last few weeks we’ve been showcasing those poets in the running for our mentoring and publication scheme with Nine Arches Press.

We’ve already featured poems from Geraldine ClarksonJo YoungKate DavisKatie GriffithsKen EvansLouise Ordish and Lucy Ingrams. Now, let’s add to that list with…

Mark Cooper

Mark’s poetry has been published in Urthona, several anthologies, and two pamphlets. His work has been shortlisted for The Bridport Prize, the Live Canon International Poetry Competition, and an Eric Gregory Award. He lives in Devon.



n. (vard-deh-ay’-grr) Norwegian. A spirit that precedes a person, causing
witnesses to believe they have seen the subject before he or she arrives.

Someone is living in my house. His breath
waits for me on the mirror before work.
Bookmarks creep half a chapter on. The songs
coiled in my guitar have slackened by a note.
Friends tell me it’s a trick of memory:
old ghosts stalking the lounge like cigar smoke –

I’d been saving some but he’s smoked the lot.
Bottles empty overnight. I hear them
clinking on the branches of the pear tree
when I can’t sleep, talking their bitter talk
like drunks until a gale moves them on.
The mornings are silence and broken glass.

In winter, he laid mirrors from the house
under the half-suspended snow to watch
coldness and the unconscious world collide.
Friends spotted him in restaurants with my wife.
There were footprints leading from the well.
Apparently the bastard has my shoes.


Stay tuned for features on all the shortlisted poets over the coming weeks, and find out the full Primers shortlist here.


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