what's been said

Praise for The Triumph of Cancer (my fifth collection of poetry, published November 2018):

'If McCabe explores the role of poetic language in expressing the experience of cancer and pain, he also tests the role of art in helping overcome trauma for the sufferer and the bereaved. Varying linguistic registers in the collection face cancer head-on with dark humour ... The collection becomes a medium for the poet to find the right language to feel in control of cancer, and to begin to come to terms with his father’s death. Poetry becomes a way not only to express pain, but also to overcome that pain' (Molly Moss in The London Magazine)

'The poems are at once personal and ecumenical. The language constantly subtracts from the physical world, as you're made aware of a thing transmuting. Beneath the fear, loneliness, bravado, ranking and fame, what McCabe uncovers is a profound human need to connect and be loved at a time of overwhelming crisis' (Anthony Anaxagorou, Poetry Review)

Praise for Dedalus (my first novel, a sequel to Ulysses, published in 2018):

"Chris McCabe fortunately has the talent to match his chutzpah and, in dismantling and reassembling Joyce's novel, he has created a complex and original work of fiction... McCabe's invention never flags."  (David Collard in Literary Review)

'Dedalus is a creative response to the greatest novel in the English language. It is a momentous act of hubris. Chris McCabe has the cojones of Achilles. How many writers in the last 97 years have thought to themselves ‘I wonder what happened to Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom when they woke up on the 17 of June 1904? And think: sequel?’ Whatever the number … they’ve either thought better of it or tried and failed. Of course they have: it’s a mad idea. But not for Chris McCabe … he wondered and then thought: “fuck it. I can do this.” Let me just quickly say what Dedalus is not … and that’s a good try or honourable failure. Dedalus is work of art … answering to a deep need of response … by a writer-poet possessed of the imaginative gifts to deliver that response in the 21 st century … this is the most beautifully published book on our shortlist, and without a doubt the most beautifully published work of fiction this year …' (Republic of Consciousness Prize)

Praise for Speculatrix (my fourth collection of poetry published in 2014):

"Breathtaking verse combusts in dark Thames pubs where revenge-tragedy dramatists drink with hedge-fund managers" (The Sunday Times)

"McCabe positions himself in Speculatrix as a great writer of the modern-day City (capital C)...one of the most original contributions to British poetry in quite some time" (Dai George, Ambit)

"Bold, woozy and thrilling" (John Canfield, Poetry School Book of the Year)

"Speculatrix is a book in perpetual motion, alive, dynamic, galvanised by its sources but not overwhelmed by them. It is a sublime work of artistry, unashamedly clever, eschewing the parameters apparently agreed by committee for poetry of directly lived experience and everyday language to produce a work of jacked up, febrile intensity." (Tom Jenks, The Wolf)

"McCabe’s suburban commuters are ‘the zòmbies of / ambition’ and, in this cadaverous updating of The Waste Land, suppurating fiscal and physical corruption take centre stage." (John Field, Poor Rude Lines)

"Chris McCabe’s collection Speculatrix juggles language like he’s juggling knives, mixing contemporary urban scenes with Elizabethan and Jacobean references – sparks flying from the clashes and contrasts [...] These are complex, strange, boisterous and unsetlling poems." (Mike Loveday, Magma)

"The formal constraints that McCabe uses... add to the sense of barely contained and conflicting energies: wealth and financial collapse, creativity and death, reality and play. This is a city on the verge of a riot it doesn’t really understand." (Billy Mills, Elliptical Movements)

"McCabe is a poet for modern times and Speculatrix – in its dark mechanical thrum – gets closer than any book to defining the cross-narrative, digital, consumerist, money-defined, zombified, alive world we inhabit." (Cadaverine Magazine)

"In this haunted work, history, tragedy and comedy roil in energised and dynamic engagement with language of the early modern period, bringing it confrontingly into the here and now through a lens of gender, the gaze fixed on the stage of the poem, intrigue, injustice and the city of London.... A formalist in a fresh way, Chris McCabe's 'play-poems' are compactions of history and place, manifestations of the violent struggle for identity towards which many of us are impelled. This poetic work is long overdue. It's one we need." (John Kinsella)

"As fast moving as quicksilver and as venomous as mercury ... these poems glow with the fire of inspiration—he is a torchbearer in the dark catacombs of poetry." (Valeria Melchioretto, Writers' Hub)

"The way each prose poem with its staggered spacing and accented syllables veers back and forth between the ages is a giddy-making experience but an exhilarating one too. This is what innovative poetry needs to do – scorch and tear at the boundaries of language in order to expose uncomfortable truths." (Josh Ekroy, London grip)

What's been said about my poetry:

“an impressively inventive survey of English in the early 21st century” (The Guardian)

 “Chris McCabe is a poet who takes risks” (The London Magazine)

“his poetry is raw, energetic and experimental” (The Times)

“McCabe upturns not so much the roots and fears of society’s evils but the language which begets, normalizes and justifies them” (Scottish Poetry Review)

“the pleasures of the text and of the world seem to defy the powers that be” (Poetry London)

“Chris McCabe’s Zeppelins is my poetry book of the year” (Jeremy Reed, Tears in the Fence)

“seems able to casually render huge political topics into small dense lines pregnant with meaning and humour” (Poetry Review)

 "Chris McCabe writes poetry that puts the music of everyday speech first, sweeping up matters contemporary, ironic, profound and downright funny in language you want to get your mouth around. Voracious, incisive, encompassing and always fresh, Chris breathes life back into the English language for us all." (Huffington Post)

"A formalist in a fresh way, Chris McCabe's 'play-poems' are compactions of history and place, manifestations of the violent struggle for identity towards which many of us are impelled." (John Kinsella on Speculatrix)

On performance:

“McCabe’s softly Liverpudlian narration of his ‘pomes’ is unassuming but, like his poems, has an understated strength” (The Observer)

“the Jamboree’s packed and whooping audience would surely encourage you to seek both out” ( book and performance of Shad Thames; Londonist)

“The perfection of this production lay not only in McCabe’s highly accomplished, flowing text, but also in the intensity and command of the here and now” (on Shad Thames; Culture Wars)

“his Liverpudlian accent adds important texture and anecdotes offer valuable context, welcoming the listener into his strange world” (Exeunt Magazine on Southbank reading, November 2012)

“There is a shortage of political poets in the UK, and of funny poets, and of vital performers and poets who fascinate as well as innovate. Chris McCabe lessens all these deficits.” (Roddy Lumsden)

"I’m a big fan of Chris’s poems and never fail to be impressed with his ability to convey his complex and conceptual poetry to audiences through his performances. If you ever get a chance to hear him read I recommend you take it." (Ollie Dawson, Director of The Poetry School)

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