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Meet our May Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight:         Abbot Cutler

Highlighted by Slate Roof Press

Abbot Cutler has published three collections of poems: Rebecca, 1843-1847, published by Rowan Tree Press of Boston, MA. in 1982, The Dog Isn’t Going Anywhere by Mad River Press of Richmond, MA. in 2000, and Say Dance, Say Night, with Slate Roof Press in May, 2013. His poems have appeared in numerous publications including Orion Magazine, Ploughshares, Hanging Loose and Blue Sofa Review, and in several anthologies, among them What Have You Lost, edited by Naomi Shihab Nye. He lives in Ashfield with his wife, the photographer, Sarah Holbrook.
Poetic Profession "At various times when I’m working on a poem I have to stop and clarify for myself what it is that I am trying to say. Metaphor, rhythm, rhyme, meter… how the words sound when spoken aloud… all this is important, but it has to be informed by what the poem is attempting to say. Richard Hugo puts it this way, “the need for the poem to have been written has to be evident in the poem”. Galway Kinnell in an interview years ago said that if a poem is really a poem “the separate egos vanish” and the poem becomes “simply the voice of a creature on earth speaking”. I try to keep that in mind when I’m writing." -Abbot Cutler

Getting Ready

OK, I’m ready to confess that if I saw a scrap of praise
in the street and it was for me I would run headfirst
into the swirling dust of the traffic to pick it up.
I’m ready to welcome Discipline, in his dark
practical coat, into the mudroom of coming close
and roll bones with him there on the wide plank floor.
OK, I’m ready to give up the way I have of hiding
behind the sly smile of irony, the animal of which
slides along at the edge: stone wall, hemlock grove, kitchen sink.
I’m ready to stitch the patch of reason to the cloth
of genuine feeling. So much has to do with the quavering
at the top of the note and then the slow roll down, and
I’m ready to give up my cut rate suite lodged
With the idiots in the motel of right and wrong,
follow the riverbank all the way to the turbulent sea.
I’m ready to say what I desire. I’ll do it for you, for me.
I’ll untether the horse of need and empty the saddlebags
of  the fast food of I don’t care and whatever.
Say yes and tomorrow and absolutely and yes,
yes, yes. 

Now in our 10th year, Slate Roof Press is a member-run, not-for-profit poetry collaborative originally established as a resource for western Massachusetts poets outside of established venues. Since then we have expanded to serve the entire state as well as neighboring regions. We publish hand-sewn, limited-edition, art-quality chapbooks with letterpress covers and featuring the artwork of local regional artists. Members participate in all aspects of publishing, including selection, editing, book design, production, marketing and distribution; each poet works closely with master printer Ed Rayher of Swamp Press on design, typography, paper, and binding for his or her book.

Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight is a monthly installment from Mass Poetry. Each month we will be shining the spotlight on a poet affiliated with, and nominated by, one of our poetry partners. If you are a partner with a poet to nominate, email
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