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Cusp

Graham Mort
ISBN-13: 
9781854115485
Publication Date: 
Monday, November 14, 2011
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Graham Mort specialises in revealing all that is “underfoot and unsaid” (“Dowser”) in Cusp (Seren, £8.99). It is a far-ranging collection – mentally and physically. “Electricity” is an epic hymn to the life-force but the highlight is “Manchester”: “love, its dirt of ingrained truth/that all human beauty is impure”. - Daily Telegraph

"...master of form and functionality..." - Poetry Review

“Graham Mort is a deeply engaged poet." Edinburgh Review

Cusp this new collection from Graham Mort, features many of the qualities readers have come to admire; keen observation, a feeling for the natural world that echoes and enhances the human interactions in his poems, the sense of the individual as part of a larger society of which we are implicitly responsible. New here is a different sort of line, which alternates short and longer lines in a step-like formation, a terracing which propels the narratives along. Also included is the remarkable, ambitious long poem, 'Electricity', fizzing with riffs on its theme. Morts formal rigour, instinctive compassion, and warm humanity shine through in this new book, the first since his acclaimed: Visibility: New and Selected Poems.

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Review from Poetry Review

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The work in his latest, Cusp, is as tightly controlled and well-observed as its predecessors. Mort is not a people’s poet, His poetry has no immediacy, belly laughs, or political diatribe. It is fluid and dense, a rich verse drawn from his observing the natural world. Mort is out there, deep among the fells, following the becks as they course down their gullies…The book finishes with a twenty-page tour-de-force, ‘Electricity’, where Mort, master of form and functionality, is at the top of his powers. It’s a poem that sparks its way through world knowledge and its consequences, electricity, as the grand metaphor, ‘call me the turning worm at the heart of matter/ I’m everywhere…’ It held me.

Peter Finch

17/09/2012 - 09:13
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Review from Magma

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Something of a hidden gem among contemporary verse practitioners in England, Graham Mort is a poet of fascinating texture and nuance. In Cusp, his eighth collection and the first since the publication of his new and selected poems in 2007, Mort demonstrates a further refinement in his mastery of the lyric mode. A typical Mort poem is a tightly wound mechanism, precise in language and dynamic in expression, all fortified by a robust sense of the line. Take this stanza from 'Drought', for example, which shifts with deceptive ease from attentive description to austere metaphor and almost aphoristic phrase-making, then back again: And below, ducking under blossom that soaps each slender branch's arms, Lonsdale's wide groove pulls his tributary down, draws out this moment the way all things are instantly lived and past and lie as unremembered futures. Then we die, and they are tides of a parched mind flooding with old prophecies: those gulls stacked above an empty farm, its churns dry, its first miraculous enamel bath a drinking trough, its heaps of knackered chain and seized pump. Given his descriptive gifts, it is perhaps no surprise that Mort is a particularly fine nature poet, and there are shades of the great Michael Longley in the way his textured language entwines and becomes almost indivisible from the subject of poems such as 'Italian Hawks', 'Black Crow', the spider in 'Happened' or the ants of 'Siege': I watch ant columns enter as you sleep; shouts of Castilian are fading in the street as they advance to their redoubts; a forward party's raiding at your knee their armour gleaming in faint light that buckles in the shutters above me. It is testament to Mort's ability that even a rather whimsical piece about poetry itself, 'Fricative', is far from dry or abstract but enlivened by the vivid imagery of "rivers of grass, cloud/creeks, fjords of tidal blue sky/the hydrogen of galaxies". In addition to these lyrics, Cusp closes with a long poem that gives voice to 'Electricity' itself, and Mort takes the opportunity to inhabit a more energetic and self-aggrandising voice. "I am the light of the world! The one/And only Elektro Electricus Electricity!" begins the poem, and the voice of electricity has much to tell, from the way "I name you and name your world - the way/you sign yourself in billboard lights across/your tiny global one-horse town" to a cosmic view of how electricity is the very stuff of life itself: What else? Protons electrons neutrons atoms molecules matter - all that dust and gas fire and ice water and steam the piss and wind of space-time dollops of stuff whole families flying their wall-of-death orbits showing off in the atom's introverted universe and that other universe out there its infinite scale billowing still... Inevitably, any poem considering the life force must turn to the shadow of mortality, and in this 'Electricity' does not disappoint, as the electrical activity of the brain allows it to embody memory itself: "your/mother's smell of lavender talc and sweat"; "your father's hands/mending a broken toy"; "the afternoon of/that lost day you recall meeting a lover/when rain drizzled after a missed bus...". A genuine tour de force performance, 'Electricity' caps one of the meatiest and most satisfying collections of poetry to emerge in recent years, one which deserves the widest of attention. Andrew Neilson, Magma

01/03/2012 - 10:25
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Review from Bookmunch

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A splendid addition to an already impressive portfolio of published work. This is poetry you can touch, feel, smell, taste and drown in. Mort’s passion and his sensual feel for language and form is evident in every line he writes. His gift for portraying everyday things in extraordinary ways sends the mind spinning to catch up. His way of seeing the world, of feeling his experiences is sometimes almost shocking in its newness.' Carola Huttman, Bookmunch, February 2012

02/02/2012 - 14:44
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Review from NBAA Review

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You quickly discover that his writer’s eye has the ability to note the smallest detail, the change in light, the movement of the air dispersed by a bird’s wing. He forces you to hold your breath so that you travel with him along the intricate placing of each line.
NBAA Review, February 2012.

02/02/2012 - 14:44