NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
TREVOR JOYCE: WITH THE FIRST DREAM OF FIRE THEY HUNT THE COLD
Shearsman Books
58 Velwell Road
Exeter
EX15 2AD
UK
ISBN 0 907562 29 9
12.95 [ 16.45]

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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 lodging
but the haiku-like sequence neatly doesn't describe them but uses them as atmosphere:
	behind scalding
	clouds from the iron
	I regret too fast
There 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.