Pangs! by Robert Herbert McClean
Published by Test Centre (2015)
Pangs! is the debut poetry collection from Irish experimental writer and audio-visual artist Robert Herbert McClean. The collection consists of three interconnected sequences of 23 numbered prose-like poems, arranged as a non-linear manual of observations and ideas. They are fast-paced and explosive, honest and fearless, intimate and unashamed.
McClean’s writing establishes new possibilities for recording and reacting to the realities of modern life. Poems about love, sex, violence and religion exist in a landscape of CCTV, Skype, YouTube, torrents and hard drives, operating via the propulsion of a cohesive yet fragmentary narrative, set to a soundtrack of synth pop and thrash metal. The recent history of Northern Ireland is a continual presence, impossible to ignore.
It is a poetry book for the digital age, reflecting our modern culture of obsessive notation and text-based communication; words and sentences crossed out yet visible remind us of the indelible digital traces we leave behind.
Pangs! introduces a striking and distinctive new voice, which combines a poetic and lyrical sensibility with a radical and rebellious energy. It is ‘emotionally kaleidoscopic’, ‘a panicked e-dreamscape’, striving to ‘dismiss the poetic’ in a satirical dissolution of the traditional lyric ‘I’ and its associated conventions.