Naked in the Sea (and various other places)

Remember the sand at Shelley Beach (and other places on the South Coast)?  You sit between the rocks with the warm waves pushing against you, and as they recede (with a noteworthy pull)  you dig a handful of sand up and look at it closely…  (see above).

I have various cooldrink bottles with “shelly sand” standing around my house.  Exiled from the sea, I love keeping one near the head of my bed, and one on the bathroom windowsill, and a couple randomly around the living room area.  It helps me remember that wonderful salty, foamy living water around me, tugging at me, lifting me up and depositing me like a piece of driftwood on the tide line.  (“UP we go!”)

But I am no poet.   So when “Naked in the Sea” was presented to me for partial publication (Masque has already part-published, P’kaboo got the ebook though), and by P’kaboo author Marie Marshall, I was intrigued.

The theme of the poetry…  best I give you a preview rather than a review.

Pearl 2:
you secret
in salt-flesh
in a sea
of love-songs

It seems as though someone has already written a long review for the collection.  At any rate the ebook is available on Amazon at, but of course also at P’kaboo Publishers!

Naked in the Sea

by Marie Marshall

Naked in the Sea image

(available directly from P’kaboo, also Amazon)

On reading Naked in the Sea, I found myself feeling naked, minuscule, swept away in the all but unfathomable sea, real or imaginary. Marie Marshall’s poetry is, to my mind, a revelation sans pareil. Mysteriously, Marie’s poetry leaves me with the uncanny impression which the finest of poets invariably experience, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians: 13:12). I say this because, as a poet myself, I am never quite sure whether I write my poems or they, as it were, write me. The best of poetry seems to come unbidden to the poet, who is quite impotent in the face of the powers of imagination, the source and fountain of all that is finest in the endeavours of humankind. As if in echo of Percy Bysshe Shelley, in his A Defence of Poetry (1821), where he so eloquently affirms:

§6 Poetry, in a general sense, may be defined to be “the expression of the imagination”: and poetry is connate with the origin of man. §7 Man is an instrument over which a series of external and internal impressions are driven, like the alternations of an ever-changing wind over an Æolian lyre, which move it by their motion to ever-changing melody.

And this is just how Marie Marshall’s Naked in the Sea strikes me. Here we’ve come face to face with a poetess who defies comparison, the hapless devotée, not merely of her own mortal inspiration, but of the all-embracing immortal spirit of Poetry itself.

Yes, Marie Marshall’s Naked in the Sea leaves me naked, body, mind and soul… As Marie herself recently wrote, “To describe is to destroy. Décrire, c’est détruire.” Marie never meanly describes; she sublimely pens soul to soul. In her own striking rhythms we may find traces of those of Gerard Manley-Hopkins (1844-1889). And that is not all. Like Gerard Manley-Hopkins before her, she often resorts to mystifying hyphenated turns of phrase. In Hopkins we find such constructs as “wind-wandering weed-winding bank” (Binsey Poplars) and “skies of couple-colour” (Pied Beauty). Likewise, in “Naked in the Sea” [the title poem of the collection] we find, “true-cross of sea-nails”, and “later, later still, star-late,…” strikingly reminiscent of Hopkins. On the surface perhaps; in the depths, far from it. Marie Marshall’s elocution is far afield from Hopkin’s. Given the remarkable sensibility of her poetry… I find myself all but speechless at the sweeping genius that so often informs Naked in the Sea.

This being said, I defy any critic to do justice to her luminous creativity, the soul of her heart’s aspirations and desires so eloquently transformed into poetry, in the truest sense of the word. If asked to assign her a place along with the finest poets of the twentieth century, I find that I must rank her with the likes of William Butler Yeats and Edna Saint-Vincent Millay, however much her style and disposition as a poet diverge from theirs, as indeed it does. Marie Marshall shines as a beacon amongst early twenty-first century poets, all too many of whom are mediocre wordsmiths, merely regurgitating the rigidity that characterised so much of the poetry of the twentieth century, a century in which the vast preponderance of poetry seemed sadly oblivious of the halcyon heights of the best of English poetry of the past…

Marie Marshall’s poetry is irradiated with the very soul and spirit of rhythm, assonance, alliteration and rhyme that is the hallmark of the most prized of English poetry, past or present. We are somehow aware that she, among a few select contemporary poets, has re-entered the Elysium of historic English poetry, with unique qualities which speak, not for the past, but for the emotional and spiritual needs and aspirations of poetry readers today, in our world of the early third millennium, and on such a scale that she shall, I am sure, endure.

Richard Vallance,
Editor-in-Chief, Describe Adonis Press,
Ottawa, Canada.

Postcript: If this book is out-of-stock at Amazon it may be purchased direct from Masque Publishing.

Postscript from gipsika:  And the Ebook, which will not be out of stock, from P’kaboo or Amazon.

2 thoughts on “Naked in the Sea (and various other places)

  1. That is a glowing review if ever there was one. One can tell from reading ‘Lupa’ the deep intelligence and knowledge which informs Marie’s writing, and these elements emerge brilliantly in this collection. Add her immaculate sculpting of words, and the result has to be something to be treasured and re-read time and again.

    • I’m not a poet but I heartily agree. They are really good poems. Apparently she’s being entered for a poetry prize by the publishers (can’t find the post anymore!!) that have debsed her next poetry collection, “Help, I’m a Fish” – wait, no, “I Am Not A Fish”. (Wondering how that ties in with “Naked in the Sea” 😉 ).

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