At a jumble sale last week, I was delighted to pick up a bundle of Dennis Beerpint poetry books for less than the price of a toffee apple. Well, I say books, but these are leaflets really, of between four and twelve pages each, printed with a Gestetner machine in the early 1970s. Here at Hooting Yard we think Beerpint is a criminally overlooked versifier, often subjected to critical maulings when he ought justly be garlanded with laurels.
Much of the material in these forgotten publications sees Beerpint finding his voice, and admittedly that voice was still a little shaky at this early stage in his career. I was struck, however, by the odd gem such as Illness, which begins:
Oh how dark the night is / When you’ve got meningitis
and by Being A Bee, with its wonderfully evocative couplet
I do as I do and I does as I does / And what I do and does is buzz
I think it is lines like these that fool people into thinking Beerpint “twee”, or a peddler of doggerel. This seems a particularly fatuous accusation when one considers titanic works of poesy such as Lines Upon The Death Of Dag HammarskjÃ¶ld In A Plane Crash (September 1961), with its vibrant “pluckety-pluck” rhythms, massive resonance, reach, vigour, gargantuan ambition, deliberately blurred vision, knock-kneed tremblement, sourness, decisively windswept atmosphere, implacability, tartness, muscular bounding strides, and bravery in confronting, head-on, conundrums of global significance. It ends with this Beerpintian flourish:
O Dag! Alenda lux ubi orta libertas / I’ve reserved a pew at your Requiem Mass
Who else could have written that?