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In December 2018 we lost our colleague, teacher and friend Professor Michael O’Neill. Just before he died, Michael had completed his fifth collection of poetry, Crash and Burn and so, at a poignant poetry reading, we were able to remember Michael by celebrating the launch of this posthumous new work, while also looking back at his earlier poetry and the poetry he cared for by other writers.
This recording features readings and reminiscences from Dr Sarah Wootton, the poet Jamie McKendrick, and Michael’s colleagues Professor Stephen Regan, Professor Jason Harding and Professor Mark Sandy.
Crash and Burn is published by Arc, RRP £10.99. The volume has four parts – devoted, in turn, to the preoperative chemotherapy; the operation; the post-operative chemotherapy; and a coda. Everywhere life and death are in close contact in a volume that is uncompromisingly unafraid to deal with the realities of illness while retaining humour, grace and eloquence. The collection, though emotionally devastating, still discovers and celebrates beauty sought and found in the act of writing, and reading, poetry.
You can listen to Michael himself reading from his two previous collections, Gangs of Shadow (2014) and Return of the Gift (2018), in these earlier podcasts.