BOOK REVIEWS

REVIEW: RECKLESS PAPER BIRDS – JOHN McCULLOUGH (PENNED IN THE MARGINS)

Review by Rodanthi Tzanelli

There are different ways to protest against homophobia, indifference to homelessness and alienation. McCullough’s poetry collection has found an effective way to do this in the most unusual style. Offering a magical passage into burning social issues, individual poems afford a view into an invisible world of popular cultural creatures, fractal coasts and a critique of failing “nervous systems” that act as metaphors for problematic politicking and social organisation.

“Dear John, Firstly I would like to say sorry for addressing
You as Japan in my previous email. My various islands

accept your apology graciously. It’s understandable.
I am an archipelago that’s never sure where I lie.”

The tone of communication is exuberant and rife with polysemic connotations, producing a psychedelic effect. A sad Lady Gaga prompts us to reflect on how “terrible” it is “to be a god and listen”, thus suggesting that we have arrived at a crossroads as a sentient species: for sociality to survive, we must re-equip ourselves with compassion, learn to connect again where all links have been severed by our postmodern lifestyles. McCullough’s poetic artistry in his third award-winning collection talks about tolerance and the need to belong in a world often attacking difference before comprehending it.

Purchase your copy of Reckless Paper Birds from Penned in the Margin.

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