Pub date: April 16, 2010
Heart-corroding sex with a tin woodman. The encapsulation of a foundering marriage in the state of a cat on the brink of death, whose health cannot be restored, but still manages to purr. Sharon McCartney’s visceral exploration of relationships — how they begin and end, the tenuous threads that hold people together, and the events that can tear them apart is unstintingly, eyes-wide-open aware. Beginnings, endings, transitions — none elude the sometimes sardonic but always sensitive, sinuous, and frank language of McCartney’s finely wrought poems.
Shedding wilful blindness in favour of life-affirming humour, McCartney pushes language from absolute rawness to moments of intimate retrospection, revealing a delicate tension between anger and calm, past and present, denial and acceptance.
"You don't read these poems, you feel them: Hammer in the head, shod foot on the throat, stiletto in the heart. It's those combos of wild, piercing insights (or unusual but poignant images); yep, that's what makes it good for you - or kills you, laughing." George Elliott Clarke, author of I & I
"Darkly obsessive, For and Against documents the rolling flux of life - the raw wounds of relationships in moments that are, in turn, anguished, edgy, droll, and affectionate. McCartney's poems are an extreme sport - one well worth playing." Jeanette Lynes, author of The New Blue Distance
"McCartney is tough. She doesn’t feel the obligation to rise above a heart-wrenching experience, to find a bright side, or to soften her bitterness . . . These are poems for feeling bad and liking it; not for regretting the vile things you’ve said and done, but for regretting that you now, alas, know better than to say or do them." Abby Paige, The Rover
"McCartney has shown a delightful felicity in previous books with stapling phrases into the memory. For and Against expands this strength with different material, and it’s a testament to her talent that rawness isn’t diminished by an attention to fluency." Brian Palmu
Karenin Sings the Blues