|Letterpress: New and Material Poems
142 x 234 mm
As a visual artist, Simon Cutts is a poet, and as a poet he is a visual artist. This is no glib turn of phrase, but a lived reality insofar as he conceives how one artistic practice can show the ways of opening the other. For some time now he has insisted that the book is not merely (or simply) a vehicle for poetry, but is itself part of a poem’s form. He extends the idea of a poem being a field of dynamic action beyond the boundaries of the page so as to encompass the book as whole. To read Letterpress is to become a participant in its total and encompassing range.
Walt Whitman once wrote, “This is no book; Who touches this, touches a man,” and yet Cutts has shown us that the book is also a book, and what that entails is something we all take so much for granted we have forgotten that it remains a form with which we must also contend. The eye moves over and across poems that are visual in the ways that all words in print are visual entities—black marks on a page that we arrange with our experience, our imagination, and even our hope for a meaningful world.
With Cutts’s Letterpress the printed word becomes an occasion for specific engagement with the local and the precise, the things before our eyes on every page and as every page. The mirroring, the visual chiasmi, the helical twists of Letterpress insist that tropes are a directing motion and any reader worthy of the name will turn towards these poems. And that reader will note too the way the page takes the ink, will account for the generous leading, will trace the particular length of the margins and will recognise all that material experience is also part of what it means to make meaning.