Introducing Author Marc Woodward!

Forthcoming in spring 2022.

Marc Woodward is an Anglo/American poet and musician living in the rural English West Country. His writing reflects his green surroundings, often with a dark undercurrent and a hint of wry humour. Sea Crow Press is delighted to be publishing his new collection, Shaking the Persimmon Tree, in spring 2022. Marc wrote this collection from the wild and sunny hills of Abruzzo in central Italy, as well as reporting from his usual territory in the bucolic English West Country. The poems range from environmental concern (‘the right-****ing-now of climate change’), to the Covid pandemic, police badgers (!), escaped lovers and archeological road trips – as well as facing up to some of the darkest shadows which stalk us all. 

In his own words:

I’m delighted to announce my new collection Shaking The Persimmon Tree will be published by Sea Crow Press and I’m thrilled to join the growing family of this new, exciting, publisher based on Cape Cod.

Cape Cod holds a special place in my heart – back in 2015 I came over to the Cape to teach mandolin at a weekend ‘camp’ in East Sandwich. After the weekend was over I rented a cabin on Gull Pond near Wellfleet and holed up there to concentrate on writing. My chapbook A Fright of Jays had come out earlier that year and I was putting together work that was eventually published in 2018 as Hide Songs – including a sequence of poems written on the Cape. 

I went at dawn to Newcomb Hollow,

a war reporter for Breaking Light,

to see the last gasp darkness swallowed 

down the gullet of a mackerel sky.. 

I was spied by periscoping seals

peep holing through the barbed edge ocean,

commanding waves to raid and steal 

in constant pillaging incursions

(Excerpt from The Battle of Newcomb Hollow – Hide Songs pub. by Green Bottle Press, 2018)

When I was there it was early October, the summer crowds had left and the Cape had the distinct feeling of the party being over. And that’s fine with me, I’m not good with crowds. I prefer to visit a beach at dawn, a quiet gallery or a bookshop relaxing into its own dust. Somewhere I picked up a copy of Walden by Thoreau, it could’ve been that secondhand bookshop attached to an Oyster bar overlooking an empty lot and windy curl of beach (surely that’s a combination you’d find nowhere else but on Cape Cod?) – but the book was new so I think it came from the little bookstore in Provincetown. I’d driven up there to go out whale watching:

Motoring out under a yawning Cape sky,

we pass three lighthouses on yellow dunes

into the oculus of air and ocean.

Shearwaters run upon the sea then rise,

tripping upwards from their light fantastic 

as we scan for humpback, minke and fin.

(Excerpt from The Light at Cape Cod – The Tin Lodes, pub. by Indigo Dreams 2020).

Thoreau seemed appropriate reading while living in a cabin on a lake – even if only for a few days! The following week I was booked to play a gig upstate and on my way from Boston I drove through Concord, Thoreau’s home town. I didn’t stop though. Maybe next time. 

Whether I get out to the Cape again remains to be seen – my memories from that time are recorded in verse – but it feels special to be reminded of my visit by working with Sea Crow Press. 

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t end this post with some lines from the forthcoming book which focuses on my homeland of England and Italy where I’m fortunate enough to spend occasional periods. 

This is a one-sentence sonnet designed to leave the reader slightly breathless and flustered – perhaps like the Cape on a crowded summer’s day!

Lovers in the Elephant Grass 

Sunlight stripes us through the wavering stalks 

as we lie breathless and high, listening 

to the frantic insistence of skylarks, 

feeling our hearts recover, pulses slow,

numb to all of time but this one moment, 

wild within the elephant grass raffia,

its thin shadow grid moving across us, 

so if we half close our eyes we flicker

like the final frames of an old film show 

about jailbreak runaways who outwit 

the hounds and strip off in a southern field, 

shedding more arrows than eager Cupid, 

only to find their malnourished bodies 

tattooed with a sweet and biblical crime.


Marc Woodward has been published internationally in a wide range of journals, anthologies, and online sites. He was writer-in-residence at The Wellstone Center in Santa Cruz, CA. in 2018 and shortlisted for that year’s Bridport Prize; won the 2019 Keats’ Footsteps Prize, and was commended for the 2020 Acumen Poetry Prize and the 2020 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award.

His previous collections include A Fright of Jays (Maquette Press, 2015), Hide Songs (Green Bottle Press, 2018), and The Tin Lodes written in collaboration with well-known poet and professor Andy Brown (Indigo Dreams 2020).

Summer on Old Cape Cod

What was summer like on Old Cape Cod?

During my youth, Orleans boasted many summer camps, several of which specialized in sailing. Young people came from everywhere to attend the camps and develop skills in swimming, boating, and other activities. When there was a baseball game at Eldredge Park, buses would bring the campers to attend; after the game, we would see buses returning to the South Orleans camps and would hear the campers singing. What a joyful sound that was!

Jobs as counsellors were much sought after by college students, some of whom met their future spouses while working at the camps.

Sadly, increasing governmental regulations made the cost of operating the camps prohibitive by the mid-1970s. Unable to make a profit, one camp after another closed; the land was subdivided and the rustic cabins replaced by upscale homes. 

A summer beach on Cape Cod.

Another summer delight was the carnival sponsored every year by the American Legion. The carnival, eagerly anticipated by both children and adults, came for a week and was always well attended. My favorite ride was the merry-go-round, although the flying swings were a close second. I avoided the Ferris wheel, where teenage guys liked to rock the cars.

Some older friends once took me on the Octopus; once was definitely enough!

There were many games such as throwing darts to break balloons; picking a lucky plastic duck from its moving stream; pulling a string to reveal a door with a prize behind it, etc. One game involved jewelry prizes; a high-school boyfriend won me a ring and my mother quipped that she had never expected her daughter to get engaged at the carnival!

Also offered were a host of interesting edibles: candy apples, cotton candy, etc. The carnival was where I learned to appreciate vinegar on French fries! My mother used to warn me, for reasons of food safety, against eating hot dogs or hamburgers at a carnival. I remember as a young child seeing people eating just such items there and wishing I knew their names so I could check for them in the obituary columns! 

The camps and the carnivals are fond memories now, but people still come to swim, sail, and sunbathe; to hike the nature trails and ride the bike paths; and to enjoy this unique place where we are privileged to live. Long may it be so!

Mary E. McDermott is a 13th-generation Cape Codder living in Orleans. She worked for 17 years in the Orleans Assessor’s Office and 23 years as a commercial insurance broker at Pike Insurance Agency. She has been a justice of the peace to solemnize marriages since 1976 and has previously published two books of poetry, Tapestry and Handle with Care. Her poems have appeared in several publications including the Christian Science Monitor.

Read more about Cape Cod in Mary E. McDermott’s book Old Orleans, Memories of a Cape Cod Town.

Take a Cape Cod book to the beach with Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems by Mary Petiet.

Cemetery Musings

“If in heaven
There is no wit
You’ll know she went
To hell for it.”

Cemeteries have fascinated me ever since the days when I would accompany my mother and aunt to place geraniums on the family graves for Memorial Day. As anyone knows who has taken Bonnie Snow’s cemetery tour, burial grounds give one a sense of connection with our history.

The Orleans Cemetery is the final resting place of Isaac Snow, who was instrumental in naming the town and who was our last surviving Revolutionary War veteran. Also interred here are “Uncle Harvey” Sparrow, who served in the War of 1812, and Webster Rogers, the longest-lived of our Spanish-American war veterans. Webster’s daughter, Emma Augusta Rogers, known as “Emma Gusty”, made her own graduation dress, but her father would not allow her to attend the ceremony. She vowed to be buried in the dress, and she was, over 70 years later!

One of my family graves has a tragic story. My great-aunt Myrtice Chase, wife of my great-uncle Ernie, was a young wife of 23, having her first child. According to family lore, she was given ether, which her lungs could not tolerate; she died and the baby died with her. She was buried with the baby still in utero, and her husband never knew if it would have been a son or a daughter. 

A New England Grave Yard in the Fall.

On a happier note, the cemetery holds the remains of Dr Claude Heaton, who delivered Margaret Mead’s daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson. Apparently, Mead wanted either a home birth or natural childbirth or both, and Dr Heaton was the only physician who would agree to her wishes. Mother and daughter came through the experience in good health. as she relates in her autobiography.

At the top of the hill is Barna Sprague’s gravestone, with the face of a dog carved into each of the top corners. These canine faces represent her two yellow Labs, Breeze and Daisy; Barna died while trying to rescue Breeze from a fire which destroyed her home. (Daisy escaped.) It was typical of Barna to risk her life for a beloved pet; her heart brimmed with compassion for animals.

But cemeteries can also hold unexpected flashes of humor. Consider the stone of John and Grace Lyons. She was the first to pass, and her epitaph reads, “If in heaven/There is no wit/You’ll know she went/ To hell for it.” After his death much later, his epitaph was inscribed: “Thirty years later/Still loving his Grace,/He hoped to meet her/Either place!”

I encourage everyone to take a walk in a cemetery. There is always much to be learned.

Mary E. McDermott is a 13th-generation Cape Codder living in Orleans. She worked for 17 years in the Orleans Assessor’s Office and 23 years as a commercial insurance broker at Pike Insurance Agency. She has been a justice of the peace to solemnize marriages since 1976 and has previously published two books of poetry, Tapestry and Handle with Care. Her poems have appeared in several publications including the Christian Science Monitor.

Sea Crow Press has two books about Cape Cod.

read more about Old Orleans in Mary E. McDermott’s new book

take some poetry to the beach with Moon Tide by Mary Petiet