Thomas McColl subtitled this collection ' 25 brief studies of the cursed, coerced, combative and corrupted' and with that line, I was ready to be immersed! McColl paints a world of manipulation, political corruption and asks if we are 'too far gone' in a world of technological dependency. We will be unleashing this grenade in book form in May 2020.
One of the main themes, or points made, in Grenade Genie is that, ultimately, everyone and everything is expendable – but while this knowledge can generate either a sense of hopelessness or the nothing-to-lose strength to rail against it, one particular strength of poetry is that even if only the former gets expressed, the latter is automatically achieved.
The book is split into four sections – Cursed, Coerced, Combative and Corrupted – and throughout are poems featuring individuals faced with impossible situations. For instance, in The Bunker, residents know their tower block – mistakenly built on top of a secret (and cursed) nuclear bunker the government still refuses to acknowledge – is a combustible death-trap; in Carry My Eyes, a refugee is an expendable pawn for the social media generation, soon to be forgotten; in Lightning Strikes, workers soon realise that freak lightning killing the Chairman has changed nothing and, unable to go on strike, the best they can do is shoot lightning daggers at the new Chairman (knowing full well that lightning never strikes twice); and in the title poem, Grenade Genie, a person possessing genius but requiring the spark has little choice but to pull the pin on a live grenade in order to release the genie inside that will grant him his wish (which of course kills him but in committing this act wipes out a whole establishment that’s blocking all progress).
And that’s the thing: Sometimes, there’s nothing else for it but to simply do something – make a stand – even if the situation really is hopeless. In any event, hopelessness, once expressed, is defiance. For instance, in Security Pass – the first poem in the second section, Coerced – the narrator describes his photo taken for his brand-new pass as a confused expression that could pass for defiance but isn’t. But, in this poem, and via this collection, it is.
Thomas McColl has had poems published in magazines such as Envoi, Iota, Riggwelter, Prole, The Journal, London Grip, The High Window and Ink, Sweat and Tears, and in anthologies by Hearing Eye, Shoestring Press, The Onslaught Press, Fairacre Press and Eyewear. His first full collection, Being With Me Will Help You Learn, was published in 2016 by Listen Softly London Press, and one of its poems, The Chalk Fairy, was quoted in The Evening Standard (as a result of it also appearing in the Shoestring Press anthology, Poems for Jeremy Corbyn). In 2017, a stand-alone single, The Loneliness of the LongDistance Kissing App, was released by Spacecraft Press, and this year, he is one of four poets showcased in Co-Incidental 4, a pamphlet published by The Black Light Engine Room Press. Thomas performs his poetry regularly in London and throughout the UK.
Keep your eyes peeled for 'Grenade Genie' this May, there will be many a pun about how explosive the book launch is going to be! We do not apologise in advance.