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Reginald Watson & President Burnham of Guyana 1966
Mark's father with President of Guyana.

Mark Watson, Ordinary Guy.

“Ordinary Guy” is a poetic snapshot, charting the travels of Mark Watson, an adventurous kid who gets taken into care in Liverpool in the ‘70’s and after years of neglect and abuse by the system, decides to fight back.


Born in Liverpool in the late sixties, Mark Watson showed an early love of poetry, writing his first poem at the age of only 8 years. His father Reginald Wilcox Watson was a merchant seaman, born in 1918 in a sugar cane plantation in Berbice, Demerara, British Guyana. His father’s nickname was “Slow Train” as he’d walked 250 miles from London to Liverpool, seeking work.

Mark Watson and Gil Scott Heron
Mark Watson and Gil Scott Heron

At the age of nine, Mark’s world changed, when his father had a stroke and became a quadriplegic. Mark was one of four siblings raised by his mother Sonia, who came to Liverpool from a little village in the Welsh valleys. A white woman raising four black kids in the 1970’s was a clear social work case and inevitably in 1975 Mark was taken into local authority care.

He emerged semiliterate from that era at the age of 18 years, with no formal qualifications and a bitter taste from the injustices he had both suffered and witnessed whilst in “care”. This was to spark a remarkable chain of events which caused him to challenge the system at all levels and compelled him to travel the globe in search of the truth.

The journey started with his meeting the infamous political poet and performer “Gil Scott Heron” who took Mark under his wing and schooled him in life. Mark has travelled on and off with Gil and his band from 1984 to the present day, touring the UK, Europe and the USA.

During these tours, Gil took it upon himself to mentor Mark and encouraged him to become productive, creative and educated. This mentoring, combined with close study of Gil Scott Heron’s published work had a dramatic effect on Mark, fostering a real sense of social responsibility and a desire to both change himself and bring about positive changes in the world.

Mark Watson and Robbie Gordon
Mark Watson and Robbie Gordon

Mark left Gil for a few years and went away to sea. He used the long days to ponder nature and taught himself to read and write. He wrote to Gil regularly, sending copies of his poems for Gil’s appraisal. This book largely derives from that period, inspired by Gil’s knowledge and the value of his revolutionary poetic work.

“Ordinary Guy” is a poetic snapshot at what could only be described as a most extraordinary life. The collection spans a period of 10 years and takes the reader on an epic journey around the world, seeking always to unravel the mysteries of life and nature through a combination of moving poetry and explanatory prose. The book includes "Malik's Mode" a foreword (written in rhyme) by Jalal of the legendary "Last Poets".

Determined to get justice from the care system, Mark successfully sues the council and gets a public apology from the Lord Mayor of Liverpool; before completing this, his first book of poetry.

last updated: 08/12/04
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