In his most daring collection to date, Chris McCabe delves into the shadowy recesses of London history, bringing forth unsettling anachronisms and revealing the city as a perilous place to exist.
Taking its name from the term for a female spy, Speculatrix is at once the voyeur and the observed. Fame and death are McCabe’s subjects, sifted and strained through his poems’ urgent rhythms. At the heart of the book, a sequence of wild, neurotic sonnets tears at the corpus of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre to conjure a visceral landscape of decay and financial collapse. Extending the collection beyond his trademark urban locale are startling poems for the loved and departed: from the artist Francis Bacon to the poets Arthur Rimbaud and Barry MacSweeney. In Speculatrix McCabe has pulled out all the stops, showing why he is considered one of British poetry’s most exciting and pioneering spirits.