Elizabeth McGeown – Cockroach [2022]


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         Elizabeth McGeown

         21 July 2022

         PBK: £10.99

         ISBN: 978 1 913917 12 8  

         90 pages • 216 x 138 • 50 Poems

         Market: General/trade

         Genre: Poetry Collection

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When the world ends, there will be ashes, cockroaches, and me, a teenager writes in her diary.

Cockroach is a memoir. Cockroach is a tale of survival. Cockroach is a creature fundamentally changed by experiences of bullying which hone hair-trigger sensitivities and maladaptive instincts. Cockroach looks back on formative moments of socialisation and instances of missed communication via the lens of learning about neurodivergence; pinpointing turning points and celebrating a lifelong fascination with the ‘other’ in fiction as well as the self. If you are ‘other’, who are your role models? Where do you find solace and belonging?

Using examples from horror cinema interwoven through poetry and prose tackling disability and loneliness, Cockroach maps a life.

‘Cockroach is a radical act of reclamation, wrestling the bildungsroman from the cold dead hands of patriarchal gatekeepers. These poems, by turns funny and troubling, celebrate the outsider; the cockroach in all its loneliness, dexterity, and ability to survive. The women of these poems – the cockroaches, Carrie Whites, the Lisbeth Salanders – are ripping up the rule book and redefining what it is to be a person, alive, in the world today.’  – Jessica Traynor

‘I love that these poems cross borders with bravado and without compromise: the immediacy of delivery and the complexity of the image. The hard-won resilience, anger, and even joyful observation… the fact that this persists whether McGeown is writing about parties, ingrained misogyny, witchcraft, love, the music industry or even enemas, is just amazing. Cockroach heralds a rich and detailed new voice, as caustically funny as it is humane, as rigorously honest as it is inventive and incisive.’  – Luke Kennard  


Elizabeth McGeown is a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer and performer from Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is the 2022 UK Slam Champion, a three-time All-Ulster (Northern Irish) Slam Champion and has twice been longlisted for Best Spoken Word Performer in the Saboteur Awards. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Banshee, Abridged and Under the Radar and she is currently studying an MA in Creative Writing (part-time) at the University of Birmingham. She was funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and University of Atypical to write her first full-length spoken word show and debut poetry collection Cockroach.

Find out more on Elizabeth’s website