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“Today you turn up
five habits to quit for happiness:
criticism, control, complaint, excuses, expectations,
without which you’d be happy, bland
Is the attempt to secure happiness worth making? Or is it simply a fast track to inevitable disenchantment? Rob A. Mackenzie confronts such questions in The Good News, his second full collection, but it’s no self-help manual. Fate, faith, travel, love, politics and death are woven into taut, affecting poems, which reveal new layers with every reading: a professional sceptic tries in vain not to become too certain of his own doubt, angels weep in Spanish into their designer coffees, and a hundred Scottish poets are enlisted to articulate the trials and tribulations of their nation at a key point in its history. The book’s central section is a sequence concerning autism’s effect on family life. Poets have written about autism before, but no one has written anything quite like this.
Mackenzie offers a typically versatile collection in style and form, combining an inimitable sensibility and imagination with a secure command of tone. These poems confirm his growing reputation as one of our most intriguing and alluring voices.
‘Rob Mackenzie's The Good News truly is good news for readers of contemporary poetry. He has a wonderful ear, a wide knowledge of literature in several languages (beyond the Italian he translates from here) and a voracious appetite for the world's frustrations and rewards. He writes with great intelligence and music, can be politically astute then immediately playful; his work is inventive, humane and welcoming. This book will surely confirm his reputation as one of the best Scottish poets of his generation.’ —Ian Duhig