Thomas McColl, Grenade Genie: Review

From the opening poem, it’s clear that this collection is an unwaveringly close examination of the modern world, its landscapes and its politics.It moves from the fresh and interesting descriptions of “buses are bison and people are grass” (‘No Longer Quite so Sure’) to the didactic “You’ve made a pact with the digital devil” (‘The Evil Eye’). 

McColl’s language is at times furious, at times mischievous – but always earnest. There’s a lot of playfulness in this collection – the playing with sounds in ‘All the Beach is a Stage’, the self-mockery and criticism of instapoetry in ‘The Greatest Poem’, the punctuation games in ‘Just One Comma Away’ and the way he likes to toy with genres, mixing the classical (‘Shopping with Perseus’) with the contemporary, with references to the works of Ayatollah Khomeini along with way (‘Obsolete’)

Politics features strongly, bolstering most of the poems. McColl’s work is strongest when it’s at its most subtle and he gives his message room to breathe in wonderful phrases like “And though nothing matters/ when we’re all just matter ‘(Grenade Genius’). It’s this type of playful wordcraft that adds a lightness to the anticapitalism and keeps the message fresh.

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