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Mal Morgan

Beautiful Veins by Mal Morgan & Fighting in the Shade by Peter Kocan

April 2000, no. 219

In a note to the reader, Mal Morgan tells us that this last, posthumous collection Beautiful Veins – it comes with a CD selected from this and other work – was written during the five months after his being diagnosed with lung cancer. They’re note-taking, note-jotting poems. A sense of someone hurriedly trying to account for and describe his response both to the diagnosis and to the radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments which ensue is uppermost. Strong, disturbing, they’re often ‘I do this, I do that’ (Frank O’Hara’s phrase) confessional poems.

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No Collars No Cuffs, plenty of fisticuffs, and you’ll probably get K.O.’d by all this, after a round or two of three or four poems each. You may need someone in your corner to bolster you, for as Geoff Good­fellow writes in ‘Skin Deep’, a women’s prison poem:

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