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The Country of Perhaps
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (94 pages)
(Pub. Jun 2002)
The Country of Perhaps is a work in two parts. Part I, a collection of lyric poems, explores the nature and the power of human illusion, and shows how that power is generated not from 'cultural forces' but from the demands of individual choice in the face of implacable circumstance. Thus Icarus, choosing to fly but finally, glad of falling. Thus the fishermen of Santa Monica Pier, retreating into the benevolent defeat of their illusions: 'Real life's defeated them across the word'. Part II is composed by Mass, a longer 'poem for voices' (the tautology implies that the piece should ideally be read aloud). Based around, and analysing, the various components of the religious Mass, and centred in the meaning of the Eucharist, Mass analyses the Christian guarantee of salvation, and concludes that it, too, is a myth, another necessary invention about truth. One spokesman for this conclusion is Judas Iscariot, who delivers the Homily in terms that may be familiar to those versed in so-called 'cultural theory'. Another spokesman is the beloved disciple, John, whose voice encompasses an older, wearier and more generous wisdom. Mass is both satire and politics, analysis and elegy. It is McCully's most ambitious achievement to date.
Praise for Chris McCully 'His verse is crisp and propulsive... At its best, McCully's translation is clear and readable, hitting the beats of Old English metre, and offering punchy phrases'
Caroline Batten and Charles Tolkien-Gillet, Translation and Literature
'This is a commendable and exhilarating book, McCully admirably bringing to life the world of honour, weirdness and creatures beyond our ken.'
Anthony Clay, Chase
'McCully gets the life of words, their swing and weight, resonance and cadence. The poems spark with great lines and phrases...'
Literary Review 'This is a singular collection from a singular voice in English poetry, and I highly commend it.'
Phillip Quinlan, Angle
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