Mark Pajak

Mark Pajak

Mark's pamphlet 'Spitting Distance' is one of our Laureate’s Choice pamphlets, chosen by Carol Ann Duffy. 

Mark Pajak was born in Merseyside. His work has been published in Magma, The North and The Rialto,  and highly commended in the Cheltenham Poetry and National Poetry Competitions. He is this year’s Apprentice Poet in Residence at Ilkley Literature Festival. His poem 'Spitting Distance' won first place in the 2016 Bridport Prize. 

Mark's pamphlet 'Spitting Distance' is one of our Laureate’s Choice pamphlets, chosen by Carol Ann Duffy. 

"A poet to watch out for" 

– Zaffar Kunial


'I was stunned by these poems. Fresh, urgent, alive, awake, with such a strong visceral impact I couldn’t sleep. Mark Pajak offers a high-res lens through which we share his vision of the suffering of children and animals. There is a fierce intelligence at play here, emotional, physical and cerebral. The combination is genius.'

– Patience Agbabi




Collie dog


in a shed

in Toxteth.


We shoved

the door in

found him


A bin bag

of cutlery,

a cider pint

stink. Flies

in the spoons

of his eye sockets.

Scraps of fur 


with blood.

Empty shelves

of ribs

and the pear stalk

of his penis.

Dead. Until

I touched him

and he whined

like a knife

scraping a plate.

Rattled the rinds

of his tail.




How did you start writing?


At school, learning difficulties meant my literacy was poor. I struggled and fell

behind. But my mum would tell me about Stephen Wiltshire, the artist who grew up with autism and didn’t speak until he was seven. It was this – combined with my dad reading Burns to me (where patterns of sound unlocked words in a way that prose couldn’t) – which woke up that first deep want to be a writer.


My father is from Glasgow, my mother and bother are from Liverpool and my sister was born in Lagos. I was born in Merseyside but grew up on the move. I went to university in Liverpool.


Which are your favorite poets and poems? 


Heaney is the poet I come to for guidance. Not just in writing but living. I love ‘Postscript’, however I will always have a soft spot for Burns’s ‘Tam O’ Shanter’ which was one of my very first poems. 


Where do you mostly write? What do you do instead of writing?


I write in the morning. The earlier the better.

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