Winner of 2015 Guardian First Book Award
Physical is a slim volume of the collected works of McMillan. It’s split into three sections; physical, protest of the physical and degradation. The middle section is made up of one long poem while the first and third sections each contain several shorter ones.
McMillan’s style forgoes capitalisation and commas as well periods or any other form of conventional punctuation. Instead he opts for inserting spaces, three for a comma, six for a period, and using line breaks to slow the reader’s pace where he wants. Overall it works and lends the poems a sort of stripped down cleanness without feeling gimmicky.
The theme is the physical relationship of men to other men, specifically gay men as many of the poems deal with longing and parting, sexual and non.
These are not happy rhyming poems (do you think the Guardian would have awarded its first book prize to that kind of collection?) but they are devastatingly, and depressingly in some cases, accurate and acute.
Number of shirtless men on the cover: One – less pants too.