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Selected Poems,

Jeff Nuttall & Roy Fisher

Selected Poems, Jeff Nuttall & Roy Fisher


Publication Date: 01-Dec-03 | ISBN: 1844710130 | Trim Size: 216 x 140 mm | Extent: 264pp | Format: Paperback

UK & International Distribution: Macmillan Distribution | Publishing Status: Active Shop online at HiveFind your local bookshop




Nuttall grew up in a remote valley of Herefordshire, where his father became the village schoolmaster. Nuttall formed his standards of assessment in this valley and they have not altered very much since. He trained as a painter in the years following the Second World War, and in 1962, as a result of a session at the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, and as a result of meeting Bob Cobbing, he began writing poetry.

In 1975 Nuttall was elected chairman of the National Poetry Society and held this chair throughout the confrontation between the modernists and the neo-Georgians for which the NPS formed an arena. In that year he was Poets’ Conference nominee for Poet Laureate.

This book is a selection made from the work of a lifetime that coincided with the Cold War. It is clearly the writing of a man who expected the human species to terminate within his lifespan. An elegiac mood prevails behind the scatology and verbal clowning. Nuttall’s long line is much in evidence, punctuated by staccato percussive passages. The content always reverts to a gravitational concern with the way in which physical love must transform the repellent without euphemising or diluting its Swiftian character.

The poems we have are mostly desperate, the poems of a man who is afraid the light is going to go out forever, a man in panic. They echo and extend Nuttall’s involvement with jazz, in the rhythms, breathe-groups and harsh tonalities. The alternative disciplines of Welsh poetry, learned through Hopkins, make them relentlessly dynamic.

Nuttall has lived first by teaching fine art in schools and polytechnics, finally by acting small parts in film and television. He has been busy across a broad range of creative disciplines but it is in his poetry that his inimitable concerns are most clearly seen.


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Waiting For The Holocaust; Windows; I shall invite my little friends to tea; A phrase cracks through; They come like a wall, stalk forward gravely; It wouldn’t reach in the summer night; Little Miss Muffet; Summer drops dollars; An ancient thing; Dangerous to drink day; Insomnia; Notes Towards a Suicide Note; Ruth & Rover; Suffer Little Children to Come Unto Me; To Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Lord of Time and Father of the Universe; Schoolmistress; Autobiography; Gutter Grace; Dogs came to us; Locked buckled couple; Your sleepy musk is a season’s tang; To My Wife; Could see her a milky thing; Spread thighs bowstrung with your stretch pants; Them There Eyes; It’s a long way out on the swell of gristle; Skeins of groundmist; Girl forked on horizon sticks; The Voyeur; Mother & Daughter; Summer; The Twin; In the Park; When it had all been told; Barking; Jumpin’ at the Maudesley ; A pale old woman sits in a thicket; Sun Sequence; Lightning Sequence; Driving the jumper; Blood let / melt light; As a breast; Day breaks brittle blades around my heart; Medieval : England; Open my bones when the rain spills; Pig proud pain for the pit of her; Murder Song; There’s going to be; Small room big bed; DaDa; Kwela for a Situation; There was a cabbage; Acres of wreckage strewn round a rhino; Pig on a prong; Scissor. Trunk. Elephants.; Still Life I; Still Life V; Still Life VII; Still Life IX; Still Life X; I wandered lonely as a seal; The red turkey; Green rippers split curtains; George the corner crocodile; Pennine; Three Takes of the Same Chorus; I embrace an apple twice; I shelled a boiled egg badly; A little shrieker; Sheets aghast at an air’s intake; He goes out on an always Sunday frequently; bird with fall-coals; Handful shaved out of moorland; I am a hill; The Split; Premonitions of Divorce; Europe – Medieval; Newhaven Ferry; Dogwind; Debts; Four-Way; Pogrom; To Feminists; Summer Holiday; Jeff Nuttall’s Psychedelic Poem; Domestic Interior – Late Night; Margaret Thatcher And The Fox; Suburban Garden; Goodbye to Leeds (Regret); Two Takes of the Same Chorus; Puritans; Welsh Bay; Cloudscape; “The levels of gold are constant. . . .”; Summer; I yawn for a fishboy shy among bilberries; An essence so delicate; Love is a goad, a goatfoot god; The surly postman; Sea food salt pond; And the bee on wheels has laments on a stick; Autumnal; Tremble vigil; Every night is a curtain over deeper dark; Oysterflesh nurtures pearl; Shot Theft; Wet Kestrel; Sentinel; Shrike Shriek; When it comes; Stands at the stairs’ turn; The Familiar Ghosts; The Coast; Sculptures; Maintenance; Ejaculation; Siege; Radnor Sunset; Mediterranean; Return Trip; Mischief; Hillside Pregnancy; Channel-Crossing; Woman Approaching; Sore as a sandrock; 16th August 1981. Bedroom, Scarcroft.; Banks of vapour, flower-strewn; Humped cherrywool and a cockatoo whisp; Scenes and Dubs; Three Scenes: West Yorkshire; Dub One; Three Scenes: North of England; Dub Two; Two Scenes: England; Dub Three; Three Scenes: Todmorden; Dub Four; Two Scenes: North of England; Dub Five; Three Scenes: England; Dub Six; Two Scenes: North of England; Dub Seven; Three Scenes: London; Dub Eight; Three Scenes: Lancashire; Dub Nine; Three Scenes: Algarve; Dub Ten; Three Scenes: Todmorden; Dub Eleven; Three Scenes: Manchester; Dub Twelve; Houses; Prologue: Dream Houses; I. Alcohol; II. The Relationship; III. Religion; IV. Travel; V. Nationality; VI. Art; VII. Language; VIII. Anxiety; IX. Body; X. Sleep; Epilogue: Dream House; Abergavenny; Breakfast at Guernsey Grove; Hotel Bar, Harrogate. August 1992; Putney Antique Fair; Spaghetti; Bed Crash; For Basil; Sleep; Lower Usk; A social chrysalis looks like a tin bug; Some mumble so dim; Sketch for Autumnal; Autumnal; When the wind whisks at first-light leakage; The rain sends children; He’s lain by us all night; We set him high on a windowsill


“Like any life-forms that aren’t pickled in jars these poems draw on their manifest energy for their form.” —Roy Fisher


“Overall, Nuttall’s Selected Poems conveys a sense of how language can be manipulated for different ends. His novel painterly and musical poetry form a distinctive approach and legacy that has been marginalized more from the lack of an appropriate critical language than anything else. Combined with his critical writing, his poetry offers a celebratory vision of nature and the body, as opposed to material greed and shallowness. Seven hundred people, many of whom were taught by Nuttall, attended his London memorial event. He inspired them to fulfil their potential.” —David Caddy Wandering Dog


“The Selected Poems (Salt) of the poet, novelist, artist, musician, actor and cultural commentator Jeff Nuttall, published very shortly after Nuttall's death in January 2004, offers an excellent selection of Nuttall's poetry, and acts as a superb, if unplanned, memorial to this multi-talented and influential man.” —Robert Greenwood The Guardian



Jeff NuttallJeff Nuttall was born in Clitheroe, Lancashire, in 1933 and grew up in Herefordshire. He trained as a painter in the years following the Second World War and began writing poetry in 1962. He published widely with Writers’ Forum, Turret Press, Unicorn Press, Fulcrum, Trigram, Pirate Press, Rivelin and Penguin (Modern Poets No. 12). He taught ?ne art in schools and polytechnics, and acted in film and television. He lived in Crickhowell, Wales and died in 2004.

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