Poetry Reading & Signing
Wednesday, March 18th @ 7pm
“God was busy as usual / just letting things be.” But Mark Gibbons wasn’t, and isn’t, just letting things be. He’s watching; he’s listening which means he’s seeing and he’s hearing and he is trying to make a difference in the only way he knows: through his booming, musical, profane, poet’s voice. In mostly cloudy, Mark leads us into darkness under the house where family secrets reside with rodents and rat poison. I imagine he is wearing Ed Lahey’s old miners’ lamp for illumination and, in that dim light, we readers view our own dark secrets. Still, we mustn’t label Mark Gibbons as a bard of darkness. Much of what Mark hears is music, and his poems sing, not only in his own lyrical voice but also in tribute to the lyrics and rhythms of musicians and poets who have accompanied and eased Mark’s journey through this vale of tears. These are the poems of a working man, working his way day by day, noting the pain, but seeking, and often finding, the joy. “Living,” says the poet, “should be easy / like dying.”
— Robert Lee (author of Breath)
Mark Gibbons is my kind of poet—one who tells the truth and tells it straight. mostly cloudy is a crystal clear book of poems that helps us see the beauty in everything from shit jobs to loss and hardship. While Gibbons writes often about music of a certain era (Joplin, Hendrix, the Grateful Dead), his voice is its own kind of music, a kind that offers wisdom and comfort for this wild ride we’re on. At the end of these pages I’m left crying and laughing, with little fear of whatever comes next.
— Melissa Stephenson (author of Driven)
One Man's Opinion
Whenever I have occasion to introduce this guy to friends and acquaintances, I do so by saying, “And here’s my personal poet laureate, Mark Gibbons.” It’s an opportunity for a chuckle or two, maybe a wisecrack, but the sentiment is genuine. Gibbons represents pretty much everything I want from someone holding such prestigious office: he’s friendly, generous with his time and knowledge, delivers spectacular readings and, most importantly, is one hell of a poet.
Gibbons is in the upper echelon among poets I most relate to. Our backgrounds are similar, and at only a decade or so apart, rooted in the same kind of small town, complicated-relationship-with-our-fathers soil that so much of the work gestates from. Like all poets who do more than just try and stroke their readers with florid language, somewhere along the line Gibbons made a decision to crack open his heart and take in all that the world can deliver, for better or worse. His rugged poetry is the result of that. It isn’t an easy thing to surrender to, because that whirlpool of love and heartbreak and the cruelties and idiocies of the world can make for some dark days. But we’re the better for him having done so.
I feel connected to this collection of wonderful new work in ways I haven’t as much with my friend’s previous books, likely because I read so many of these poems not long after they wriggled free of Gibbons’s brain. But as writers that is exactly the connection we want to make with a reader, to make it seem like the work is equal part theirs too. Gibbons nails the beauty of that best in the opening lines to the poem “Reading May,” when he writes: “This is what is divine / about literature / that we may connect / with another human being / in our mind / across time.” What a beautiful truth. Sometimes that time can span decades, if not centuries. And sometimes it can be mere hours, when a good friend and stellar poet sits down on the opposite side of a couple of frosty beers, slides a piece of paper across the table, and says, “What do you think about this thing I just wrote?”
— Chris La Tray (author of One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays from the World at Large)
The cover image and seven photos inside the book were taken by Kurt Wilson, a native of western Montana and photojournalist for nearly 40 years before retiring from the Missoulian newspaper in 2019. He lives in Missoula, Montana, with his wife, Karen.