Joyce, Trevor

Trevor Joyce - With the first dream of fire they hunt the cold  (2nd edn)


"…quite unexpectedly, there is another Joyce of importance." (Harriet Zinnes, Rain Taxi)

"I find myself almost surprised, after having lived with this book for several months, at how difficult I now find it to think of the landscape of contemporary poetry without this body of work. It is a book that deserves to find a wide and diverse readership." Nate Dorward, Chicago Review)

"[Verses with a Refrain from a Solicitor's Letter is] a draft suicide note, an ironic Immortality Ode, a Harrowing of the Hell of Writer's Block, a smack at Ulster sectarianism, a parody of everything from legalese to celtic myth and a transmutation of intimate anguish into a brilliant work of art." (James Keery, Poetry Review)

"This book collects work since 1966, but about three-quarters of it consists of poems written in the last seven or so years, witness to a quite remarkable flowering of Joyce's talent. The work is consistently interesting, formally engaging, wide-ranging and risky — altogether an unmissable collection." (Peter Sirr, Poetry Ireland Review)


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Trevor Joyce - With the first dream of fire they hunt the cold  (2nd edn)

Paperback, 241pp, 9x6ins

Download a PDF sampler from this book here.

This extraordinary collection brings together the entirety of his work up to 2003 that Trevor Joyce wishes to preserve. Founder of the seminal New Writers' Press in Dublin, Joyce is Ireland's most stimulating late-modernist poet, unrepentantly engaging the global modernist tradition at a time when it would seem to many that Irish writers, whether in the Republic or the orphaned north, prefer to hunker down and be parochial. The book includes the early collections Sole Glum Trek, Watches and Pentahedron and the splendid re-working of of the Buile Suibhne epic The Poems of Sweeny Peregrine, as well as the later masterworks Stone Floods and Syzygy, the former nominated for the 1995 Irish Times Literary Award for Poetry, the latter a formal tour-de-force previously only available as a limited edition chapbook. The volume concludes with more recent uncollected work of great power and ambition.

"Trevor Joyce's new book, With the first dream of fire they hunt the cold — a body of work 66/00, contains poetry of a sort rare in Ireland – rare to an extent that the rest of the world that is interested wonders if it exists at all and which, when they discover it, appears the more singular. The book brings together writings that have always been characterized by lack of compromise, a fierce desire to move forward. Joyce's work has also been marked by great patience in not forcing solutions — witness a nineteen-year interval in mid-career between two of his collections. During the past few years Joyce has enjoyed an explosion of creative power, producing a succession of increasingly ambitious poems distinguished by virtuosity, subtlety, maturity, and great beauty. […]

Trevor Joyce has taught himself to write outside himself, about things in the world. He set out in determined opposition to an ideal of writing as a consumer item, insisting that it was instead a medium of discovery or nothing, even though many of his beginning-poems were compromised by a facility he could not repress. His poems have not memorialized his childhood or his friends or his personal relationships, although a kind of intellectual biography is inscribed in their development and personal obligations are registered in dedications. His subject is the medium in the sense that a scientist researches science and not gooseberries. His achievement has been to establish a voice that comes out of a space that is neutral, communicating everything between felicity and sorrow by virtue of having shed the baggage of personality.

The later poems in With the first dream of fire are extraordinary… Joyce's inventiveness, restlessness, range – these qualities in operation and not simply packaged in last year's Christmas wrapping – are simply stunning. The title of this review [‘with the fire in him now'] is borrowed from Krapp's Last Tape. 'Not with the fire in me now. No, I wouldn't want them back. [Krapp motionless staring before him. The tape runs on in silence.]' Krapp's closing words test an actor's control at the limits of ability; a prick of compromise deflates pretension entirely. Joyce's writing produces that same white sound again and again, which is the highest praise." (J.C.C. Mays, Dublin Review)

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