In ‘Assonance’, the eighth poem in a collection of 20, Miguel Cullen writes that ‘The sounds in my head…they’re brilliant today’ – and there is not a piece in Paranoid Narcissism! that fails to set your head ringing with this exact brilliance. Cullen’s talent seems to lie particularly in an ability to bring words together that are rarely seen in the same sentence; pop culture blares alongside Greek myth; the stigmata hangs, holy and shining, above trailing apron strings.
One line in ‘Slag’ sums up well what the experience of reading these poems is: ‘it set my head loose; so loose it was hard to get it in order’. Paranoid Narcissism! is a collection that delights in the wonderful strangeness of language. It is impossible to read without feeling as if you have been scattered. Then you must begin the task of gathering yourself up, sensing that perhaps you won’t be exactly the same as before. Something has been nudged slightly out of place, and the world is all the more vibrant for it.
London especially revels in Cullen’s writing, and is sent sprawling throughout in a display of bright lights and grit. Such contrasts are truly what makes Paranoid Narcissism! spark, and it is a collection that continues to glow, with every reread of a poem the source of a brand new rush.