The poems in Alan Gillis’s fourth collection, Scapegoat, find themselves on the edge of the ordinary, carrying the ills and beauty of our times within themselves, cast between what is, and what might be. Epiphanies of impinging memories from childhood and adolescence become poems in which tales from Northern Ireland’s past vex the present, exploring themes of desire and fear, violence and shame, forgiveness and change. Other poems face up to the ‘zeitgeist’ of today, with a shifting mix of humour and ire, love and turbulence.
Veering between scabrous satires and hymns of praise, dream-like fantasias and clear-eyed reckonings, Scapegoat finds itself on the brink between civility and the wilds, striving to come to terms with the maelstrom of living. With searching depth and vivacious exuberance, Scapegoat gives us the calm before the storm, the wreckage after the storm, and, for the hell of it, the eye of the storm itself.