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The Frost Fairs by John McCullough
  

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Reviewed and selected by our poetry expert, Liam Parkin.

The Frost Fairs is John McCullough’s debut collection, having previously written poems for The Guardian and many poetry magazines. The collection is delicate and sometimes dark, but offers an overwhelmingly beautiful portrait of current culture - both good and bad. McCullough’s down-to-earth style reminds one of Don Paterson, with similar imagery and colloquialisms. The poems will often leave a crisp image left in the mind’s eye, coupled with interesting abstraction which allows us to question a lot of values that are often taken for granted. McCullough has a very distinctive style of voice, creating a close affinity with the reader which builds to a wonderful empathy with the voices in this collection. A remarkable debut, he offers a playful, yet serious set of poetry which is full of nothing other than sincerity.

Synopsis

The Frost Fairs by John McCullough

The Frost Fairs is a compassionate book with a global and historical scope, tackling science and city life from a range of surreal yet poignant angles. It explores love in many forms, from modern transatlantic relationships to hidden gay and cross-gendered lives from the past. The pieces travel from ancient Alexandria to twenty-first century bars and council estates, behind everything the vastness of the sea and sky. The array of voices here is striking: taxi drivers report their most outlandish fares and hermaphrodite statues flirt with observers; abandoned lovers watch frost fairs melting on the Thames and drag queens revel in the freedoms afforded by the Blitz. Formally deft and carefully crafted, this diverse range of poems uses language that is always musical and alive. Surprise and the uncanny are cherished as ways of returning to us the strange leaps and enduring power of our deepest yearnings. In this collection, longing and losing condition all we see and hear, making the impossible suddenly plausible. Whether exploring Brighton seascapes or questions of empire, there is always in McCullough's writing an openness to seeing the world from an alternative point of view. At once bold and haunting, The Frost Fairs opens the door to a new country in the reader's imagination in its exploration of the possibilities of the human heart.

About the Author

John McCullough was born in Watford in 1978. His poetry has appeared in publications including Poetry London, The Rialto, The Guardian, Magma and London Magazine. He teaches literature and creative writing at the Open University and the University of Sussex and has a Ph.d from Sussex on rhetoric and friendship in English Renaissance writing. He lives in Brighton.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999

Author

John McCullough

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Publisher

Format

Paperback

Categories


ISBN

9781844713981

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