Beautiful Fish by Mark Kilburn

Mark Kilburn (who writes on ABCTales as Kilb50) won the 2020 Cerasus Poetry Olympics back in July. As part of his Gold Medal prize, Cerasus has collated a collection of his poetry which is now available on Amazon: 

Beautiful Fish: Kilburn, Mark: 9798572785401: Books


Here's a review by Ewan:


Beautiful Fish By Mark Kilburn : A Review


I was very pleased to be asked to review this collection “Beautiful Fish” by long-time ABCTales contributor, Mark Kilburn. It is the latest offering from Cerasus Poetry.


This collection is broad in content. An everyman Adam is often our guide in pieces which stretch from birth to thoughts of reincarnation. Overt subject matter ranges from the mundane of a Saturday Night Trip to the Laundrette to a not quite earthly Elsinore, Again . Often the one seeps into the other as it does in the astronomer’s guide to a kitchen that is Nicolas Copernicus in My Mother’s New Kitchen. 


“Beautiful Fish” kicks off with the entirely apt Entry Point, in which the birth of a child is likened to a space-ship’s re-entry through the atmosphere, with it’s astronaut-embryo. 


“Adam drifts in his space-womb, thoughtless

as a mayfly's wing. Floating in blood he turns

as Jupiter rules the Ascendent,”


Next follows Tea Box, a Medal and a Bone a moving tribute to a survivor from the Forgotten Army of WWII and how PTSD affected them and how we were frightened by our own ignorance of it – and theirs. 


Roadworks and it’s companion piece Tarmac Adam are personal favourites, I’m reminded of Bleasdale’s “Boys From the Black Stuff”, which is no bad thing.  


I could write reams on what there is to find in these wonderful poems.  The finding of balance when New Year’s Eve at the Meiji Shrine, Tokyo complements Tea Box is to be treasured. If I read anything else as uplifting as 


                  amongst monks

            and salarymen and grand old ladies from Ginza,

            counting stars, thinking back as well as forward

            the most luminous thought of all


any time soon I  shall be very surprised indeed. 



If you read  The Child We Can Never Have without your eyes moistening, your heart is made of granite. The Ghost of Henry Snarkville Walks Worcester by Night is strange and compelling, making the reader wonder what a ghost from five centuries ago would make of their own town. 


There is so much to admire in this collection; recurring motifs of mayflies or fish, beautiful and not;  playful use of language (see A Gastropod Transmits My Image to Its Unconscious Self); strong themes of love, regret and mortality or simple- seeming elegiac and lyrical poetry. All are in evidence from page one to the beautiful Adam Reincarnate which closes the collection. 


This might be the among very best of Cerasus Poetry’s output so far, Mark Kilburn is to be congratulated on producing a collection that I shall return to again and again. 


Beautiful Fish by  Mark Kilburn 


Cerasus Poetry ISBN: 979-8572785401


Sold. I'm buying a copy. 


Thanks celtic.


Many thanks Ewan for your perceptive reading and generous review of Beautiful Fish. A fair number of the poems included in this collection were first posted on this site, re-affirming, in a small way, what an important resource for writers AbcTales is.




Thanks Drew.


Congratulations, Mark -- looks like I need to get myself a copy! 


Thanks Mark (& I'm enjoying Pigeon Variations)


Cheers, Mark. That's really nice to hear.

Good luck with the book.