Mícheál McCann’s debut pamphlet ‘Safe Home’ was published by Green Bottle Press in 2020. From the opening mini-sequence ‘Études’, there’s a strong sense of musicality and cadence. There’s also a strong instance of McCann’s signature knack of rooting even the grandiose to the everyday when the poem moves from the beauty of the orchestral music to “the washing machine burps.” These mundanities are tenderly observed – and with humour.
Many of the last lines in these poems forced me to stop and put the book down. McCann has a great skill in delivering the perfect last line – in the poem ‘Peadar’s’, the poet observes a world lost in its own enjoyment, building to the final line “No one hears last orders.” The beautiful ‘Leaving London for Belfast’ is a touching love poem that ends with the showstopping:
“I hoak for a lifevest under my seat
to realise I was wearing it all along.”
Throughout the collection, there’s a real sense of the poet urging us to appreciate the detail. Mc Cann sites his poems in the detail and uses these details as an anchor to the wider world – whilst still describing the everyday in a fresh and unexpected way (such as when the night sky is described as “ muckily dark sky/ ornamented in stars” in ‘Letter from the Living’. We’re told detail “is the only thing we have left”. The collection ends with ‘Prayer’, another poem that urges us to appreciate the detail in the world around us, with its “sheep-gutty clouds” and the promise of “my eyes/ are lit.”