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The Triumph of Cancer

Chris McCabe

"Cells mutate, language dissolves and bodies fall away..."

a poetry book society recommendation
a book of the year - the poetry school

The Triumph of Cancer blurs the borders of science and poetry, working with forensic attention to capture the ‘inscape’ of the living world.

In this powerful new collection, presented as a museum of artefacts, Chris McCabe returns to the site of personal trauma to confront disease head-on. Elegies for his father, poets and celebrities mingle with still-life portraits of organic and synthetic subjects. These poems move with lyric grace and surgical precision against a backdrop of terror and cancerous global politics, showing McCabe at the height of his powers: dextrous, darkly comic and a true original.


Our price £7.99
RRP £9.99
Please note: due to the recent change in tax regulations, we are currently unable to ship to EU countries.
90 pages
ISBN 9781908058607
Published 6 November 2018
Cover design: PITM


'At once personal and ecumenical. The language constantly subtracts from the physical world, as you're made acutely aware of a thing transmuting. Beneath the fear, loneliness, bravado, ranking and fame, what McCabe uncovers is a profound human need to connect and be loved at a time of overwhelming crisis.'
Anthony Anaxagorou, Poetry Review

'McCabe channels his poetic energy, his humour, intellect and memories into understanding, exposing and therefore facing down a disease which has claimed too many victims. In this, he helps us to do the same.'
Maria Apichella, Poetry London

'It’s a collection that’s as bold and personal as its title suggests, containing elegies for his father and explorations of loss and illness, interweaved with history, modernity and politics. It’s a powerful and emotive read, and is shot through with McCabe’s relish of language and syntactical playfulness. The last line of the collection starts with ‘Flick light, light flicker’, and ultimately this collection is a flicker of light – vulnerable, but also illuminating and hopeful.'
John Canfield, Poetry School Books of the Year

'McCabe’s elegies for his father, and for famous poets struck down by cancer, push poetic language to map and mirror what happens to the body when cancer invades it ... [McCabe] tests the role of art in helping overcome trauma for the sufferer and the bereaved. Varying linguistic registers in the collection face cancer head-on with dark humour.'
Molly Moss, The London Magazine

'Ambitious, lyrical ... modern poetry at its best'
Jennie Byrne, Versopolis

Recommended by book vlogger Jen Campbell

About the author

Chris McCabe’s work crosses artforms and genres including fiction, non-fiction, drama and visual art. His poetry has been recorded for the Poetry Archive and he was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award in 2013. He has published four collections of poetry, including the highly praised Speculatrix (2014), and his work has been described by The Guardian as ‘an impressively inventive survey of English in the 21st century’. His psychogeographic books about London’s cemeteries, In the Catacombs and Cenotaph South, are published by Penned in the Margins. With Victoria Bean he is the coeditor of The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayward Publishing, 2015) and his first novel, Dedalus, a sequel to Ulysses, was published by Henningham Family Press in 2018. He works as the Librarian at the National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre.

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