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The cover of Whistle


by Martin Figura

80pp Hardback
ISBN 978-1-904852-26-1
Published 26th March 2010

£10.00 post free in UK.

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WHISTLE was Shortlisted for The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2010 (March 2011)

Martin Figura’s riveting sequence of poems about his childhood, his father killing his mother, and the consequences of that upon the whole family is remarkable for the story he doesn’t tell, as much as for the story he does. Exercising a humanising restraint, delicately balanced, these poems are an attempt to excise memory, to fill in some of the missing gaps, but the sense one is left with most of all is absence and loss. Moving, brave, unsentimental, Whistle doesn’t blow the whistle on the family. Instead it rather heartbreakingly tries to piece together the fragments of a life, shattered by murder. Sometimes lyrical, rarely angry, often tender, Figura’s soul-mate throughout is the understanding and watchful eye of the camera: ‘One day I shall hold them with white gloves, / carefully brush away the dust and look / through their shadows and fingerprints.’

Martin Figura has a strong stage presence. His subject matter is so challenging it makes the audience gasp. In spite of this, he engages the listener with warmth and humour. Pitch perfect, he knows his lines and knows how to deliver them. You will be entertained and moved in equal measure.

His subject matter is dark and dramatic, a personal journey into family tragedy, against a backdrop of history and politics. But Martin’s stage-presence, his humour and his warmth makes this a shockingly enjoyable journey. His skilful blend of anecdotal story-telling and poetry help to build up powerful emotion without ever becoming manipulative and his use of still image (he’s a photographer as well as a poet) give the show a visual poetry.

Martin Figura was born in Liverpool in 1956. He is married to the poet Helen Ivory and works part-time at the Writers’ Centre, Norwich and as a photographer. He is a member of the poetry ensemble The Joy of 6. A spoken word version of this collection produced by Apples and Snakes begins touring in 2010. Nasty Little Press is publishing a pamphlet of his amusing poems in November 2010. He is Chair of the Café Writers Live Literature organisation in Norwich.


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Last modified: 27 March 2010