TREVOR JOYCE: WITH THE FIRST DREAM OF FIRE THEY HUNT THE COLD
58 Velwell Road
ISBN 0 907562 29 9
£12.95 [€ 16.45]
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This page last updated: 11th December 2007.
|TREVOR JOYCE: WITH THE FIRST DREAM OF FIRE THEY HUNT THE COLD|
The poems in this book cover work from 1966 to 2000 and show a progession of styles from traditionalism to postmodernisim. The first section is THE POEMS OF SWEENY, PEREGRINE: A working of the corrupt Irish text. It begins with a narrative that reads like a Viking Saga. Whether this is truly an old story or a piece of fiction, I don't know. The poems that follow use it as their source. It is, of course, the fight between good and evil personified. Here's a flavour
Madness shrieks beneath my feet as I search for watercress. Madness lurks among the reeds leaping at me when I stoop about a hill-pool. Madness has a white and haggard face.and another
I thought the voice of a lovely woman less melodious than the dawn-cry of the mountain grouse. ... Though in your chapel you find melody in the quiet speech of students, I prefer the awesome chant of Glen Bolcain's hounds.The poems in PENTAHEDRON stem from the same period. Although ranging in topic from THE MOON AS OTHER THAN A GREEN CHEESE, GULLS OF THE RIVER LIFFEY, to poems on Death and religious topics, they all contain strong, incisive language. Rich imagery is fused with vigorous writing.
There is a gap of almost 20 years between these and the poems in STONE FLOODS. The style is poetically less traditionally-formal, but the vision and craft is there still — from FAST RIVERS
right at the very instant of delivery the messengers begin to fail and are already exhausted when we see the moment so instantaneously spent reckoning surely we regard time not yet come extinct ... our lives are fast rivers soon delivered to the sea of death ... this world is but a road to one wherein is no abiding grief ...There is a wry humour present though in poems such as VERSES WITH A REFRAIN FROM A SOLICITOR'S LETTER. In APERTURE the poet tells us in a forenote that
I took some photographs of Gougane Barra during a cloudburst on the last day of February 1992, and hung the prints on the wall of my lodgingbut the haiku-like sequence neatly doesn't describe them but uses them as atmosphere:
behind scalding clouds from the iron I regret too fastThere are many excellent, moving, accessible poems in this section.
SYZYGY (1998) is very much less accessible to the reader. It seems to be a work based on allusions that are not made clear — an intellectual piece perhaps for those who can follow the cryptic clues. There are notes and comments elsewhere in the book, but I found they didn't really aid my comprehension.
HOPEFUL MONSTERS contains three pieces of delightfully-constructed prose
Furthermore, here take note of the exact proportions of a man. Those of a woman will I disregard, for she has no set proportion but her history: that of a middle-aged female seen by the police waiting on the side of the bridge where they have much to learn yet concerning the depths, almost wholly unexamined as they are, and covering three-fourths of the surface.The penultimate section includes shorter poems, 1995-2000, whilst the final section TREM NEUL is described on the back cover as
an extended auto-biographical essay in prose and verse from which everything personal has been excluded, and whose spaces are instead crowded with the memories and apprehensions of others.There is a lot of poetry in this collection. I suspect, most readers will enjoy quite a fair proportion of the writing, but few, perhaps, will like it all.
|reviewer: Mandy Smith.|