Mark Niel is a Milton Keynes based poet who was appointed as Poet Laureate of Milton Keynes in May 2011. Mark is a weekly contributor to his local BBC Radio station and has been heard on Radio 4. In may 2012, mark was the Bard in Residence for BBC Radio 2's "2Day" Special and was also commissioned to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, with the resulting poem read by Imelda Staunton.
Mark's mission is to take poetry to the people, letting it break out from the page to be encountered as entertainment, visual art, videos, comedy or architecture.
Starting out on the busy open mic and Poetry Slam circuit six years ago, Mark's energetic and engaging performances soon saw him starting to make guest appearances. Mark's breakthrough moment was winning the prestigious Camden Crawl Poetry Slam, which led to a tour with leading poetry organisation, Apples & Snakes.
Now a muliple Poetry slam winner at main events msuch as Ledbury, Bristol and wenlock Poetry Festivals, Mark has performed at Latitude, Green Man, Wychwood, Shepherds bush empire and the Cheltenham Literature Festival.
Mark is one of the few poets to reach the final of the legendary New Act of the Year competition (January 2013) and he recently featured at the Will Gpmpertz fringe hosted by the BBC Arts Editor at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Mark has been full time since the beginning of 2012 and writes to commission, makes appearances at events and festivals, conducts workshops in schools and companies. His first collection, "Somewhere South of Normal", is published by Allographic Press ijn cambridge and was officially launched on 21sst March (World poetry Day)
Poetry Kapow, Milton Keynes 2008
The Camden Crawl 2009
Farrago Spring Slam 2009
Hammer and Tongue, Oxford and Cambridge Chapters 2009 and 2010
Tewkesbury “Awaken Your Senses” Festival 2009
The “Big Love” Slam, Bilston 2010
Bang Said the Gun, London 2010
Word 4 Word, Stratford, London July 2010
Wenlock Poetry Festival, 2010
Ledbury Poetry Festival, 2010
Buxton Wizard Words, July, 2010.
Team Slam at the Bristol Poetry Festival, 2010 (Captain of winning team and top poet)
"Seeing him perform, it's easy to see his passion and feeling for words and performing. He's a very strong performer and the audience loved him." - Petersfield Herald May 2013
"Mark uses his acting skills, beauitiful, powerful emotive voice....." - Petersfield Herald, December 2010
“Ignited the space with his comedic stanzas” - Rum Punch, Partnas in Rhyme September 2010
“A Bravura Performance” - Buxton Fringe Review July, 2010
“Mighty Fine”- Elvis McGonagall
“A rising star of the UK Poetry Scene" - Hammer and Tongue
”A histrionic Tour de Force" - Rachel Pantechnicon
“Stuff like that is the reason I still go to poetry nights” - Niall Spooner-Harvey
“Just seen Mark Niel smash it at Speakeasy. One to watch, literally and figuratively” - Tim Clare
“Human emotion sings between the lines” - Essential Writers .com
“ A Blistering Set” - Earshot, Cheltenham April, 2010
“Disturbs young people” - Amused Moose, London
“A great headliner” - Richard Tyrone Jones,” Utter”, London.
“A fantastic performance” - Felix Dennis
“That was brilliant” - Mrs Barbara Nice
“Thanks for being so bloody good” - Glenn Carmichael, The Team Poetry Slam, Bristol Poetry Festival
“The person next to me said 'I didn't know poetry could be such fun'. The evening was filled with many pleasant and humorous poems. Live performance of modern poetry works really well when it's personal and expressed with feeling. Mark Niel, who was also host, certainly knows how to communicate his work; his pieces were comic and powerful. If you like humour will certainly enjoy, 'My name is Mark Niel!' and 'My half of the fridge!', both of which have wonderful twists at the end - Review of Tongue in Chic at the Buxton Fringe, July 2010.
Recent review from Movingtone.com
Thus ends the first half of the evening, and so begins the 'Special' half. Mark Niel (That's N-I-E-L; take note or risk the mock-homicidal consequences) is a self-proclaimed stand-up poet – which as he cheerfully explained means if no-one laughs it's poetry not comedy, and vice versa. Not only that, but he's the democratically-proclaimed poet laureate of Milton Keynes – yes, Milton Keynes has a poet laureate. The audience loved this guy – listening, laughing, and groaning at the terrible puns in all the right places; if there is a spectrum of poetry with academic written word at one end and a crowd-pleasing performance at the other, Mark is definitely towards the latter. So much so one wonders if this is still falling under the poetry banner – but a performance it definitely was. Similar to Hammer & Tongue founder Steve Larkin, his set is incredibly fluid with little distinction made between 'pieces' and 'talking-between-pieces' – frequently the two interwove, and what you thought was an intro quickly turned into the attraction itself. Such blurring of lines is far from being unstructured; in fact signifies a consummate and well-seasoned performer.
Another similarity is that when you do this kind of thing full-time, your profession becomes your pool of material; performance poetry about performing poetry, about poetry nights, about poetry gigs. The whole thing was laced with an incredible flair for self-satire, so much so it was hard to tell whether there was some sincere stuff in there parading as parody. Mark Niel's sets were replete with material lambasting the cliche's of the medium, from the confessional poet to the self-absorbed poet, whilst also being itself very self-involved confessional poetry. This kind of odd self-completing loop or comedic solipsism has a lot of mileage, and it's definitely a compelling trick – but I'd be interested in seeing how it fares in the long term; whether it ends up eating itself. The rule of thumb seems to be, if it's not poetic, make it funny; if it's not funny, make it poetic; if all else fails, get loud, unhinged, and irrationally over-emotive. What was important was that it was very funny, well-delivered, and presents an accessibly unpretentious face to anyone guarded towards spoken word. The medium has a lot more versatility than comes into most people's minds when the word 'poetry' is uttered, and everyone here tonight seems dedicated to broadening those horizons – putting poetry in a different light, into non-traditional spaces, and into popular consciousness as synonymous with 'entertaining' as much as 'cultural'.