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Often forgotten in the popular imagination, the National Serviceman still has his tale to tell.
Michael Cullup's long poem Matelot vividly recaptures the experiences of those who saw service aboard ship in the Royal Navy. Centring on the experiences of an Engineer Mechanic, Matelot describes life as it was then - the coarse language, the fights, the drunkenness, and, above all, the sterling comradeship.
Drawing inspiration from the realistic example of poets such as Alan Ross, Roy Fuller, Donald Davie and Charles Causley (all of whom had served in the Navy) Cullup's flexible, freer verse style brings back to life the voices of that past as they tell their intertwining and compelling stories.
It is, now, a time long gone, never to return. Matelot gives the reader some idea of what it was like to be part of it all - in its miseries, in its excitements and pleasures.
And in all its anarchic glory, too.
About the author:
Michael Cullup comes from Huntingdonshire. He went to Abbotsley village school in Huntingdonshire and then won a scholarship to Kimbolton School in the same county, where he published his first book of poems at the age of eighteen. After leaving school, he did his National Service in the Royal Navy, then went on to University College, London to read English. He worked as an insurance underwriter with the Pearl Assurance Company, and then as a Bill of Lading Clerk with the Port of London Authority, before becoming a teacher. Initially, he taught English in the UK but then taught overseas in the Netherlands, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. Returning to the UK in 1977, he spent many years working for the Bell Educational trusat in Norwich before becoming a full-time freelance writer. He has published more than twenty books, including six collections of poems.
Greenwich Exchange Category: Poetry
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