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I have promoted McNamara’s work through his author page and recently had the opportunity to read an as yet unpublished piece of his that is Gregory Corso–esque in its ruminations on death.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

This Transmission

“Voice(s) across Space-Time”

A review by Joey Madia

Irish poet Michael McNamara’s latest collection packs into 35 pages a wealth of imagery in its visionary calls across the viscous, enigmatic ether of Space-Time. This ebook’s striking cover features dozens of bearded, wild-haired faces—similar, yet unique—held in a heartlike, streaming-ribbons shape, although one at the bottom breaks (or falls?) away in screaming fury.

The author?

Aspects, of, perhaps, of some other entity entirely, as you will see.

Like dialing in a radio from a far off station, the poems in This Transmission change voices, tones, periods, and perspectives in a cascade of crisp images and dire observations. The title poem puts the mysterious, myriad faces on the cover into context: “the Chinese, the Spanish Mexicans, the Native Americans, Siberians and Inuit” and extends the focus beyond the minority male, asking, “Was that Yoko, Cleopatra or The Magdalene?”: powerful, misunderstood, and misrepresented women all.

In the second poem, “From Prussia with Love” (mark the pop culture and art/literary riffs—they are everywhere embedded), the collection’s Voice gets stronger, declaring, “I’m your Alpha, your Omega.”

We’ve heard that one before.

But who is this declarer? In a later poem, the Voice says:

That’s me posing for Modigliani.
That’s me with Jacob Boehme.
That’s me behind The Maid of Orleans.

I am The Boer, The Troubadour, The Carthaginian, A Flower Girl, Soul Queen Of Harlem.

I stood with Alexander

Like the Faceless Men in Game of Thrones, the Voice declares:

I will steal another man’s face
and speak with my mouth his truth. Continue reading