Crash & Burn

Crash & Burn

9781911469667
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In this book, Michael O’Neill documents in poetry the course of the medical treatment of an illness – cancer of the oesophagus – diagnosed in September 2017. Following diagnosis and staging (the theme of the final poems in Return of the Gift, Arc, 2018), the treatment fell into three main phases (corresponding to this volume’s sometimes overlapping three sections): a course of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (involving emergency hospitalisation during the first of three cycles); the decision to operate, the operation, and the immediate aftermath; convalescence after leaving hospital and a further course of adjuvant chemotherapy (stopped after two cycles). There is a ‘Coda’ at the end of the book, which contains poems alluding to the fact that the fears expressed specifically in two poems earlier in the sequence were subsequently realised, and the last two poems in the collection were written in the last week of Michael O’Neill’s life.