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This review is taken from PN Review 207, Volume 39 Number 1, September - October 2012.

Wastes of Hazard michael cullup, A Change of Season (Greenwich Exchange) £11.95

Michael Cullup is a fully paid-up member of the awkward squad, which is a pretty good place to be. His business is with the obdurate, ultimately isolated human being; the parade of victims and survivors, the dance of images for literary effect, are not for him. The best of this poetry is bare stuff, unaccommodated man. He is the country scholarship-boy grown old, from a sharp, windy East Anglian landscape ironically remembered in 'Distant Hunting Horn':

Free of all Latin names and reference books,
we were inheritors of ignorance so rich
it took the form of knowledge.

The harsh elements of clay and thorn, of rough-and-toughs like Frostie and Slade, are echoed by corresponding images drawn from Cullup's naval experience as a National Serviceman, that feeling for

these cobbles, lashed by driving rain
the under-roll of shingle
raw at the sea wall.

The images knocked and driven in when young build the furniture in the adult's house of knowledge. Cullup shares with me that wartime and post-war world where things are awkward, unfrilled: the world of reductive proverbs, cold fingers, and heavy greatcoats - a climate, too, of Reithian improvement and moral earnestness.

The Victorian poet James Henry, rediscovered by Christopher Ricks, has a haunting, untitled poem about the cyclical nowhere of life

Clear and bright sometimes, sometimes dark and clouded
But still the same sunsetting and ...


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