Loose Canon

“Different mirrors; different reflections.”

A review by Joey Media

“Loose Cannon”: an expression that derives from the danger posed by an unsecured cannon on the deck of a ship.

Irish poet Michael McNamara’s newest collection plays on this definition. If he is the first to do so, I applaud him. The implications of this homonym certainly fit and the implications are profound.

Edgar Allen Poe said that a novel is a cannon, while a short story is a rifle. But what of poetry? We might say that a collection is a cannon, while the individual poem is the rifle.

Inserting the homonym, this loose canon of collected poetry can certainly do some damage: to the established canon and to our perceptions of time, place, and death.

These themes, prevalent in McNamara’s work, are the primary reason I am deeply engaged with it. I recently reviewed his collection, This Transmission (Argotist Ebooks, 2019), a complex work on the amorphous nature of identity. As founding editor of newmystics.com, I have promoted McNamara’s work through his author page and recently had the opportunity to read an as yet unpublished piece of his that is Gregory Corso–esque in its ruminations on death.

In Loose Canon, which features the poet on the cover, photographed with what appears to be a thermal-imaging camera, McNamara takes us around the world, looking at love, identity, death, and art. His image on the cover is done at a Dutch angle, cuing the tilt that will set that unsecured can(n)on—the poet—in motion. Continue reading