Cusp – recollections of poetry in transition

Printed in Norfolk has been sent a review copy of Cusp – Recollections of Poetry in Transition. This 244pp paperback sets out to present “the spirit of a brief era which, in retrospect, was exceptional in its momentum towards the democratisation and dissemination of poetry. The era or ‘cusp’… between World War II and the advent of the World Wide Web”.

Cusp is edited by poet Geraldine Monk who has bought together the essays in this collective autobiography. Hannah Neate’s contribution Because the Trent Bookshop Is in Nottingham tells the story of the city’s Trent Book Shop, Poetry 66, and Tarasque Press. Much of her essay is based on transcriptions of an interview with Simon Cutts.

Here is an excerpt in which Cutts’ collaborator in Tarasque Press Stuart Mills sets out, in what Neate describes as ‘his typically humorous fashion’, some paramaters for poetry.

The proper subjects for poetry are;
the Seasons, the Affections, Fishing Boats,
Inland Waterways, Non-Alcoholic Beverages,
Certain Flowers, Certain Trees.

Improper subjects are;
Sex, Drugs, War and Self.

Adjectives should be used sparsely, if at
all, and not ever in proportion of more
than one to every 9 nouns.

Neat continues “By positioning itself in opposition to poetry about ‘sex, drugs, war and self’, Tarasque critiqued the beat and pop poetry being promoted elsewhere in the UK by the Liverpool poets and New Departures. In the above poem we see a respect for a longer literary tradition, an older type of ‘popular culture’ that privileges outdoor pursuits, seasonality and nature. This is almost a variety of pre-war vernacular through which objectivity is used to draw attention to the page, which works as a material and typographic artefact. This is a modern rather than pop poetry”.

Cusp is published by Bristol’s Shearsman Books and costs £12.95. Click here to order.

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