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Robert Herbert McLean’s ‘Pangs!’ — Notes from an abandoned review

thoughts are expressed and then repudiated — revisionary, impulsive (and sometimes repulsive), suggesting, like its title, that — lived through desire’s pangs and that language is not so much the container or medium for pre-ordered subjectivity but its waste product, — known by the whistle of its passing rather than its form or shape as it goes

not that a poem follows the creation and curation of a self, but rather McLean’s poems are that self in the act of revision

Despite then being interesting in theory, the book itself is boring. You flick through the ~70 pages of ‘waste material’ — the book is bound like a flipbook — and stop here and there, you put it down and pick it up again, you read some lines at random:

Fond bends of the bob and tug of love giving over as if an illegal fireworks display. Swans
are the best friends of a shoe seller’s ghost. I told her she’s the coldest witch of any winter.

This restless phrase-turning goes on and on.