Poem of the Month: Benjamin Cusden on the homelessness


Mark in your diary the date: 26th September 2020

Philip Pullman wrote in the Guardian: ‘The plight of homeless people, and our reaction to it, are part of the hideous tangle this country has got into. There are so many strands leading into this appalling knot, that if we pull any one of them, the tangle gets worse.’

Benjamin Cusden is a poet who crossed over to the light from the darkness, and in the pamphlet, Cut The Black Rabbit, to be published on the date by Against The Grain Poetry Press, he presents the view from that darkness. These poems present a disturbing view of you passing by passive, without creating a contrasting view of the mechanical rhythm of legs of rains (or bars as visualised by Baudelaire) and ‘crowds of coats and trouser legs’!
May I stir up some passion in you and encourage you to buy this collection available now? You will see yourself from the other side of where you are: not as a mirror image!

Yogesh Patel MBE


by Benjamin Cusden


After Hirshfield

was once a poem of certainty
with foundations of childhood memories,
concrete proper nouns and scant adverbs.
It sailed down the Eden river with Tom
and his dad, saw a dead sheep tangled in the reeds;
pulled ollies on its skateboard with best friend Geoff
in the Summer of ’76 – scraped its knees on gravel
and called them raspberries –
took these medals with honour.

This poem was beautiful and wandered freely
through time and space, an innocent observer
to life, a reflection of corporeal in ether,
a meditation on what was and
what might be.

But then this poem stuttered, took a turn
in the wrong direction –
preferred to stay out drinking
than get home for an early night.
This poem grew sad and wondered why
it didn’t feel like a Betjeman, Hughes or a Larkin,
why it felt more like a Berryman or Plath.
This poem feared being read,
feared never being understood.

Now this poem is uncertain.
It sits within walls, locked in under its own volition.
It sprays itself with anti-bacterial spray until
its words become blurred and indistinct. Until
syllables become uncountable, until
consonants mix into vowels, until
ink runs from its paper, until
this poem hasn’t been written at all.

Benjamin Cusden
Benjamin Cusden

Ben has been both an award-winning
broadcast television editor in London and
homeless within the Cornish countryside –
this change in circumstance and the
landscapes he’s lived in are often reflected in
his poetry.
His first pamphlet ‘Cut The Black Rabbit’ will
be published by Against The Grain Press on
26th September 2020 – edited by Nine Arches
poet Jessica Mookherjee.
Ben has recently been published in Acumen,
Prole, The Dawntreader, Live Canon
Anthology 2019 and an anthology by Salmon Poetry raising money for the homeless.
Shortlisted for the Live Canon International
Prize 2019 and The Bridport Prize in 2016.
Ben is a regular volunteer for Ruth
O’Callaghan’s Lumen and Camden poetry
groups and has been a featured poet three
times – most recently with Christopher Reid
and George Szirtes.
Signed copies of ‘Cut The Black Rabbit’ are
now available from Benjamin at:
Unsigned pre-orders are available from the
publisher at:

Cut The Black Rabbit

The cover image “macroscopic model of pedestrian flow in urban spaces” by aluedt is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Comments are closed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: