Demons, geese, The Laughing Cow, marching bands, LSD and pistols smuggled home from the USSR. You’ll find all these in Scott McKendry’s GUB. Rooted in the language of working-class Belfast, and slipping between eras and time zones, closing the gap between the real and the fantastical, the academic and the everyday, the parish and the polis, McKendry’s exhilarating debut collection comes to terms with generational trauma, social decay and the rituals of a place with a fraught history and an uncertain future.
Invoking the balaclava’d gunmen, urban warlords and explosions which gripped the decades either side of the Good Friday Agreement, GUB drags the language of ghettoised Belfast into serious Irish poetry. Wearing the lyrical influences of his ‘ugly city’ lightly – Carson, McGuckian, Longley – McKendry’s tightly-wrought structures weave an unprecedented verse of mourning, witness, alter ego, class alienation and aesthetic turmoil. Noisy, dark and witty, GUB is an utterly new voice out of Belfast, but one posting bulletins across inner-city neighbourhoods everywhere.