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Panic Response: John McCullough, Penned In the Margins, 2022.

Published earlier this year, Panic Response is John’s third collection of poetry. John won the Hawthornden Prize in 2020 and teaches our popular Advanced Poetry Workshops. Written in response to the dark years we have just experienced the poems deal with personal and cultural anxiety and chart a trajectory that leads to a more uplifting space. Critical reviews have been enthusiastic and full of praise.

‘The fear of speaking is as tremulous as the desire to break restless silences in John McCullough’s electric third collection. Mournful yet angry, surreal yet deadpan, McCullough’s poems put immense pressure on the autobiographical self: “I write this while my hands are shaking.” The poet grasps the present tense by its throat to revisit the scabs of childhood, breakdown, stigma, homophobia and other sources of turbulence and panic. Historical and scientific anecdotes loom large, creating a syncopated cultural and personal chronicle that is elegiac, rebellious, painful and radiant. Whether confronting a vending machine in Shinjuku, Tokyo, a long-lost friend, or Watford’s spit-filled pavements, McCullough’s poetry translates the “nervous chatter” of our lived moments into a bold, multilayered narrative where the self is found to be “removing / pieces of myself, a little at a time”.” – Kit Fan, The Guardian, April 1 2022.

Find out more about John McCullough here