Rob A. Mackenzie – The Good News (4 stars)

Rob A. Mackenzie – The Good News

Edinburgh-based author's second full collection amuses and provokes

(Salt)

The Good News is the much-anticipated second full collection from Glasgow-born, Edinburgh-based Rob A. Mackenzie.

Never afraid to tackle big questions (the poet is also a minister in Leith), he gives no coffee table answers. First in the book’s three loose sequences, ‘The Lingua Franca Happy Hour’ addresses Scotland at a historic crossroads. Innovative and playful, Mackenzie channels Woody Allen, Blade Runner, Songs of Praise and an angry monarch before constructing a cento of lines from a hundred Scottish poets to bring us to the present day, where his hilarious found-poem ‘Tippexed Speeches on Scottish Independence’ reveals just what the party leaders aren’t saying.

‘Autistic Variations’, explores autism as no writer before. No mimsy poems-as-therapy here, only frankness about the conflicting emotions an autistic child engenders.

In ‘Human Manoeuvre’, the final sequence, Mackenzie really gets stuck into life’s existential midden. From slacker angst, ‘Experience’, through yearning open-field poetry, ‘Nocturnes’, pop-culture baiting, ‘Talent’ and ‘The Boxer’, to simple joy ‘Horizontal’, he consistently amuses, provokes and establishes himself as a voice for our times.

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