Gub is unlike anything I have ever read. In a playful demotic that is exhilarating, hilarious and never forced, Scott McKendry makes magic of a Belfast that in other hands would make grim reading. From surreal, almost fabulous - in its purest sense - encounters with birds and animals, to trippy interrogations of identity and tradition, he makes the most surprising connections. If there is sometimes the sense that no one is more surprised than McKendry - one poem is subtitled 'Somehow after Cezanne' - this should not be confused with a lack of confidence; these poems have a formal elegance so assured as to feel utterly organic. The most exciting poet to come out of the north of Ireland in many years
Scott McKendry's poems are exhilarants; richly textured, gregarious, sublimely sophisticated. The extraordinary ambit of his language ... is interwoven, irrevocably, with its pleasures. Gub, as noun, carries the trace of its verb: it is gastronomic and discerning, but it makes no bones about how the sausage is made. And rather than bend the local to the universe, the universe is drawn to these poems: migratory geese, the Flintstones, the small delinquencies of childhood and teenhood. And the author's new orthography for his 'Belfastois'. Gub is a world you don't know and don't know you know. In the company of these magisterial, unique, frequently hilarious poems, you'll wonder where you've been
What makes McKendry's work so interesting, so important, is how he captures, with anecdotal specificity, one anabranch of somewhere that all too often has its stories told for it. Gub avoids homogeneity of experience, but this virtue is secondary to the collection's scansion, wit, and hypnogogic deployment of language. McKendry understands that a place's lexicon can become conative, indifferent and even deleterious to its speakers' intentions ... He fishes from a polymathic frame of reference, and the result is poetry that reaches far beyond a place's geographical parameters, achieving a complex North Belfast psychogeography. This collection is sharp, maximalist, and phonetically and formally buoyant.
McKendry does something truly radical with this book. Even at its most phantasmagorical, it combines intense philosophical inquiry with a profound familiarity with the terrain on which his world is built and the people who populate it. Gub is a work comparable in scope and import to Ciaran Carson's Belfast Confetti. Like Carson, McKendry's ear is attuned to the cadence of the city's "speech and slabber", which he transposes, with great aplomb, to the upper echelons of contemporary poetry. Gub is one of the funniest books I've ever read, and one of the most moving. It parses the ironies, contradictions and shortcomings of the working-class Belfast I know with moments of incredible beauty. There is nothing else like this in Irish poetry. A lyrical savant of the highest level, and one of the most exciting writers in Ireland today, McKendry is utterly his own beast
[Gub] is exhilarating: I think of Blake's 'Energy is an Eternal Delight' but it comes here with tremendous sophistication, flair and originality
The poems are brutally eloquent, and with a fierce cultural commentary running through them, from the carry on in the hut at the Twelfth bonfire site to a satire on the secret inauguration rituals of loyal orders. There is a streak of surreal hilarity in those that involve the poet as a childhood 'oddity' observing the out and out craziness of the Troubles