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Phantom Gang by Ciarán O’Rourke

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With lyric grace and meditative clarity, Phantom Gang offers a daring dissection of civilizational violence in a variety of contexts – from the intimate atavisms and inequalities of Irish history to the insidious growth of the global Big Tech economy in the present day – alongside deep, sensually delicate explorations of broken love and salvaged memories.

Honouring the work of a range of writers and photographers, including John Clare (1793-1864), Martín Chambi (1891-1973), Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), and Gerda Taro (1910-1937), these poems unsettle the boundaries between past and present, elegy and tribute, folkloric remembrance and political reportage, interweaving each with all to create a compelling vision of a world in motion and a consciousness alive to change – as spectral voices and still-living presences seep “into the open echo-chamber / of poetry”, casting light on the inner and outer landscapes of the poet’s life in time.

Following his acclaimed first collection, The Buried Breath, O’Rourke here expands and enriches the thematic concerns of his early work to accommodate new forms of portraiture and moral questioning, while further honing the “clean-boned” music of his poetic style, lit always by a profound emotional charge. Phantom Gang confirms O’Rourke as a leading new voice in Irish poetry.

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