Recovery Community

Conor Mc Donnell

ISBN 9781771262606

$17.00 CDN/USA 84 pages

Recovery Community explores intimate connections between deftly-layered moments of trauma illness and loss. This collection of poems, shot through with personal and professional experiences from physician-poet Conor Mc Donnell, recruits actors addicts and artists to a Greek-chorus rallying call: first-time experimenters are serenaded by the drugs that seek to trap them, Shelley Winters is raised from a succession of hollowed out pre-dug Hollywood graves, while the film industry retreats to the shadows under the glare of a 21st century lens. The poems in Recovery Community reinforce the value of doubt and conflict as necessary tools to navigate existence, and Mc Donnell sketches a map toward resilience with crooked lines of caution that linger long after reading this unique debut collection.

Praise for Conor Mc Donnell

The poems in Conor Mc Donnell’s debut collection are remarkable not only for what they say, but also for what they do. This is language that reminds us of our bodies in all their shocked resilience and visceral fragility, that reconnects us to one another by revealing how the bonds and distances between us are yet another form of syntax. These poems demonstrate how language itself is a material substance, deeper than ink and sound waves, that can weigh upon us, create walls, or form the foundation of a new and unknown world. In Recovery Community, Mc Donnell has given us another instrument to help us mend and go on.

—Paul Vermeersch

The voice of Conor Mc Donnell is sorrowing, injured, enraged, and caught in its own almost powerless benevolence. He belongs to a growing group of poets—a number of them, like himself, doctors—who register us as entrapped in worldwide chemical and technological sterility: addiction, and spectacle devoted to propaganda and injustice. For “addicts / cannot wash off the law / deaf as it is to poverty”. Then what can a doctor, or anyone, do? Dream of death and human wastage, and then wake to confront them: “help her sit in soothing light search for bugs she swears are there”. And what can a poet do? He waits, in Mc Donnell’s lovely, haggard lines, for “this anger to form / something more than outrage”, while attending to “a silent scrum of murder / and beauty in empty featureless streets.”

—A. F. Moritz

Conor Mc Donnell is a physician & poet. He has published two chapbooks, The Book of Retaliations (Anstruther Press) and Safe Spaces (Frog Hollow Press). He received Honourable Mention for The Fiddlehead’s 2018 Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize, was shortlisted for the RawArtReview 2019 Charles Bukowski Prize, and was runner-up in the Vallum 2019 Contemporary Poetry Prize. Recovery Community is his debut collection, This Insistent List is up next …

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