McCool is a love story and a war story set in the near future, told in the form of a verse-novel. After a Western coalition invasion of Lebanon, Gala’s husband Colonel Parker James is deployed to the frontline and remains in the Middle East through summer and autumn. Anxious, lonely, childless, Galatea impulsively moves to London to resume a career as an art journalist where her path crosses that of the war painter McCool. As the narrative unfolds in sonnet-form a soldier becomes a pacifist, a tortured visionary develops a passion for pure beauty, and tragically, ecstatically, a woman becomes a goddess…
Sustaining and relishing the sonnet form throughout and telling such a brutally real yet imagistically exquisite and mythical tale in such a fresh, witty and deliciously modern way confirming him as the bravest, most lucid and deepest lyrical voice writing today.
Again, Dun has told an epic tale in verse that is more than verse. Fusing elements of Gilgamesh, the Fenian cycle and Eugene Onegin, McCool is strikingly modern. 21st century art, war and love are explored in a ‘white goddess’ poem with London and Heliopolis as mystic backdrops. This is Byronic cinema.
Perhaps we don’t expect young Israeli DJs to fall in love with teenage Palestinian women-rappers, but it happens in Unholyland, as in real life! This verse-novel is driven by what’s currently taking place in the youth-culture of modern Palestine/Israel. The real Arab revolution is the explosion of politico-spiritual rap from subculture, a music which carries the nonviolent message: ‘Putting down the gun and pickin up the mic…’
Set in the Onegin sonnet-form of Pushkin, the same stanza deployed in McCool, the poem has been described as ‘Pushkin with a spliff.’
‘I was deeply moved by Unholyland – it has extraordinary energy, wit, knowledge, and beautifully marries the vernacular with rhyme. It reads beautifully and is like nothing else I’ve read.’
THE UNINHABITABLE CITY
Other works have developed his unique ability to fuse an inspired romantic tradition with a gritty uber-modern reality, like The Uninhabitable City, where Dun’s Orphic voice can melt the tower blocks of a decaying city and refill the syringes of prostitutes with simple hope.
This epic poem, published by Goldmark in 2002, whirlwinds the reader through North Africa, the West Indies, India. Primarily a travelogue in blank-verse it detours into biographies.
This poem is noble, both in conception and execution, a dense weave of lived experience, serious philosophical and theological questioning, humour, knowledge of many different spiritual and cultural traditions, evocations of spectacular inward and outward journeys.
Hilary Davies – The London Magazine
Universal makes a fitting retort to recent suggestions that contemporary poets are not facing up to the big questions. Basil Bunting famously said of Pound’s Cantos, “There are the Alps, fools”; well, here are the Himalayas.
John Greening, Times Literary Supplement
The valley of the lost Fleet River in Kings Cross is surrounded by the old hills of London, the high places. Vale Royal is a geographical vessel, a symbolic container of the quiet mind, a perfect place to realise the vision of oneness. In the poem Vale Royal the cosmic lifecycle of the Sunchild, the Mighty Youth, born with a vision and dying an early death, reflects the exiled life and redemption of the artist. Chatterton and Blake play his role in the work’s two movements.
Vale Royal moves with the ease and clarity of a fresh spring over ancient stones, making its myths casual even colloquial – an impressive achievement.
He has an extraordinary sense of the past. He’s one of those people, along with Blake and Chatterton and others, who are like a divining rod for history.