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Ivor Cutler

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Glasgow, Scotland (1923 – 2006)

Ivor Cutler (January 15th, 1923 – March 3rd, 2006) was a Scottish poet, songwriter and humorist. Originally a teacher, he taught at A.S. Neill’s Summerhill School. He appeared in The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour film,” on Neil Innes’s television programmes, and on ’s influential BBC radio programme, for which he recorded a total of twenty-one sessions between 1969 and 1991. In live performances he would accompany himself on a harmonium.

Many of his poems and songs involve conversations delivered as a monologue and, in these, one party is often Cutler as a child. The humour often develops from the child’s curiosity and the playful or self-serving lies the parent tells him to get, for example, a chore done or simply to stop the incessant questions. More of Cutler’s poetry is in the form of short, almost epigrammatic, observations and micro-dramas, usually surreal. He could draw impossible pictures of the thoughts and actions of ordinary people, animals, or objects with the same sense of an outsider’s wonder.

Cutler was born in Glasgow, Scotland into a middle-class Jewish family of eastern European descent. He cited his childhood as the source of his artistic temperament, recalling a sense of displacement when his younger brother was born: “Without that I would not have been so screwed up as I am, and therefore not as creative.” In 1939 Cutler was evacuated to Annan.

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