Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mark Beevers - poet, editor, lyricist, writer

Mark Beevers has many of his poems archived on Typepad - here http://markbeevers.typepad.com/ and a current  / active one on Blogspot  http://captainmarkb.blogspot.co.uk/

Inspired by Kenny Foxton getting press coverage for his book in the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, Saltburn poet Mark Beevers also sent his books to the Gazette and some of the press cuttings are on here.

Mark's is an interesting story to relate in this history. Before 1987 Mark hadn't had a lot of success with his poetry but after publishing the first Outlet in autumn 1986 Outlet began to get regular packages of Mark's poems (even though we stipulated a maximum number of poems to send at anyone time) - I even got packages of his poems sent to venues where I was teaching Creative Writing!

Marks short, unusual and witty poems were easily accommodated under larger poems where none other would fit but we soon discovered his witty poems were gaining attention with our readers. Mark won the first Outlet poetry competition and a noticed was placed in Cleveland Scene in 1987 (Cleveland Scene was the free whatz on guide that went out free through the libraries like Outlet). As time went on the Outlet editors thought we should co-opt Mark on to the editorial board of Outlet and in 1988 we did so, giving mark his own column. 

Before that however I moved from Middlesbrough to Saltburn in 1988 and got to know Mark personally. At the time Mark Mark put out regular booklets of his poetry which he hand made and sold for '50p or half a pint of beer in the pub!". Obviously they were very limited editions.  Mark had some redundancy money, having worked at British Steel and down Boulby mines and I persuaded him to get his books printed. This he did, giving him a much wider distribution. Mark used to place some in very odd places in the hope that some unsuspecting person might pick up and read and hopefully enjoy his work. Mark, being a character, might have included sliding them surreptitiously on to literature shelves in local book stores, dentist waiting room tables, and all sorts of other colourful places!!

Mark went on to produce over 30 books over the next 5 years -see the covers here http://markbeevers.vox.com/busy-beever-books-1988-to-1993/ - published variously by Outlet,Exile or his own Busy Beevers Press.

We also introduced him to national and international small poetry press network and Mark began to get reviews of his books and poems published in many of these magazines as can be seen from the reviews on the back of his.

Mark wasn't particularly a performer but we involved him in reading at the Parallel Universe - a poetry and music performance in Saltburn for the first Write Around in 1989. I recorded Mark reading some of his poems in Saltburn on a four track portastudio and added some music and sound effects (the tracks will be on here at some stage).

In 1988 there was a job going for a trainee community printer as part of the Community programme in Loftus and I suggested Mark try for it. He was successful and began to learn about printing and publishing. When it 
finished Mark had a greater insight into publishing from the printing side and while he was already writing a column for Outlet, reviewing small presses, he was befriended by the newest local poetry magazine Exile, whose editors, Ann Elliot and John Herbert Marr now also lived in Saltburn. Ann and John were fans of Marks poems and also included some of them in their magazine and when Mark's job finished in Loftus, he went to work with Ann on another Community programme in  Middlesbrough, using his new learned skills to produce the magazine ET (Extra Tenner) which was a stripped down version of the former Community Programme. Mark was commended by Prince Charles for this work and there's press cutting to go with that.

Between 1988 and 1991 therefore Mark's isolation as a local poet had been transformed in so many ways, now with his own publishing imprint, co-editor of two magazines, having worked on two related Community programme schemes and having learnt valuable skills and well published by the small presses, and taken a couple of steps towards performance poetry with music.In 1990 Mark appeared in the audience on a BBC2 Open Space Programme we made about the work of Outlet and Write Around. Unfortunately, despite hours of filming, the programme had to be edited down to a 10 min slot on a half hour programme about Community

 Arts Projects in the North East of England so we weren't able to include all the local poets we would have liked to, including Mark but does at lest appear in it and was invited to join in a follow up  - which unfortunately never saw light of day.

From 1989, Mark had work published in the annual Write Around anthologies which had come out of the work of Outlet and Andy Croft, then a Literature tutor 

Mark Beevers 024
with Leeds University Centre at Harrow Rd. Middlesbrough, became editor of an Outlet inspired poetry page in the Middlesbrough

Mark Beevers 027
 Evening Gazette and between 1990 and 2000,Mark had many of his popular poems published in the Gazette. In 1992, Mark joined another employment scheme working on a Dormanstown Community Newspaper and created one for Saltburn called Saltburn Scene. Satlburn scene consisted of adverts, local information, a double page of local history or new age or rock music snippets and a Pen Pages mostly of his own poems but also some from contributors. Saltburn Scene went door to door in Saltburn on a monthly basis until around 2000.

In between time Mark had written lyrics for local bands and (while on yet another employment scheme - this time acting) began writing short humorous sketches - some of which were performed as part of the Stockton International Riverside Festival and later The Writers Cafe at ARC also in Stockton. He began attending a WEA drama writing course and developing his writing skills in various ways.

Around the mid to late 90's Mark showed me a flyer from, I think Peace and Freedom magazine advertising for 'poems that could be made into song lyrics for a band that are going to be bigger than the Stones" or to that effect. Although we thought that all new bands like to think they are going to be 'bigger than the Stones' Mark began sending loads of poems off like he had done with Outlet and talking about poet / lyricists like Jim Morrison etc. In early 2000's Mark claims to have recognised many of his lines and verses in the work of the Libertines and some Babyshambles songs, although with no credit. This includes the song Albion, which Mark claimed was based on his poem Albion with additional lines from other of his poems and lines that weren't his. Mark was narked but could consider at least that his work had made a contribution to something much bigger.

Towards the end of the 90's, Mark was becoming restless in his home town and was looking to expand his horizons. I'd suggested to Mark (who, despite little or no qualifications was well read in literature, rock, ancient and local history and new age) that he consider doing a degree. At the time he wasn't ready but in the late 90's he came to me as said he was beginning to consider that option. Mark joined my Creative Writing class in Saltburn and Stiletto Pigeonetto, a performance poet who I'd helped to get on a Technical Writing degree course, and who was also in the writing group, helped to guide Mark towards the right course.I gave Mark a reference based on his involvement with Outlet, the course and the Cleveland writing movement and Mark began a three year degree course in Literature at Teesside University, writing a dissertation on the work of William Blake.

After completing his degree Mark moved to York and again I helped him get on the FE Teaching Course and Mark began teaching Creative Writing himself in York for WEA, and was a writer in residence WH Smith's for National Poetry day and began a number of broadsheet publications in York, mostly containing his poetry and snippets of local hist of other pieces. Slatburn Scene came to an end and was replaced by the broadsheets like The Good Ship Albion.The Ship's Log (Saltburn), York Shambles, Yarn Ship, Fulford Flyer, Fishergate Frigate, Scarcroft Flyer, Hesleton Harbinger, Knavesmire Navigator,Wilton Wayfarer, Micklegate Magic Ship, Hobgate Bohemian, Bootham Broadside, Holgate Flagship, (in Yorks) Port-Pattaya Transporter (Thailand).

Mid-noughties Mark emigrated to Thailand to teach English as a foreign language and has continued to write prolifically and publish his flyers and has recently enjoyed monthly publication of a page of his poems in a Pattaya Trade Newspaper with a circulation of 50,000.

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