Throughout this collection, opposites collide – reality and delusion, political activism and apathy, friend and enemy, life and death. Messiahs parachute themselves to disused northern fairgrounds, a woman diets until practically invisible, trained apes teach a colony of drunks how to dance, a bingo night fuels familial despair and love, and an airborne cabbage blasts a cyclist into orbit. With precision of language and a colourful, anarchic spirit, Mackenzie’s poems focus on their subjects with humanity and hard-won compassion. They have a light touch, but are never trivial. They are for readers who trust that questions are rarely simple and answers never final. Ironic and humorous, complex and engaging, you can’t do without The Opposite of Cabbage.
‘Restrained, intelligent, quietly ironic poems, so precise and assured in their craft that they sometimes sail into liquid light.’ —Helena Nelson
‘The sluice of news, the creative writing biz and grimly comic crowd-behaviour: Mackenzie is appalled, amused and attracted all at the same time. But it isn’t all Desolation Row and the poems here of loss and love pierce through and touch.’ —Richard Price
‘Rob A. Mackenzie’s vibrant, kaleidoscopic poetry displays a playful, witty and fertile imagination. But sometimes, just sometimes, it dips into a deep reflection on the frailty of our mortality such as in the exquisite poem, 'In the Last Few Seconds', which took my breath away.’ —Bernardine Evaristo
‘Rob Mackenzie’s Happenstance pamphlet The Clown of Natural Sorrow combined a precise eye with deftness and a good-natured voice which controlled its subject-matter to considerable effect. Those same qualities are present in his collection The Opposite of Cabbage; but these poems are also tougher, often bleaker. Mackenzie is equally unafraid of both Idea and Sentiment, and manages to handle both in poetry which is tight in its formal elements and wide-ranging in its scope. The sense throughout of a life being lived, examined and framed intelligently is enormously satisfying.’ —James Sheard
‘Nudging at the curious in the everyday is typical of Mackenzie’s work ... These are honest poems with a humane touch that takes them beyond their surface familiarities. A small book but it’s consistently interesting.’ —Jim Burns
‘As they say, you can't break the rules unless you know them, and Mackenzie's clearly qualified to break them.’ —Tim Love
‘Intelligent, well-crafted poems. Witty and humane, with a quiet quirkiness.’ —Hamish Whyte
‘Intellectual resourcefulness formal assurance and a copious imagination underpin MacKenzie’s intuitive mastery of our post – almost- everything, huge, tiny, sad, happy, global Scottish moment’ —Donny O’Rourke
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