by Sean Arthur Joyce
In reading Joyce's most recent collection of poems, I often find myself in a trance-like state, letting the sheer musicality of the language wash over me.
Fir shadows sway
hemlock boughs brood
luminous, brittle heads
wave to someone far off. ("Butterfly Lane")
Joyce's language is often haunting and his insights powerful. Throughout almost all of the thirty-six poems in the collection, he uses images of light and fire, water and ice, to draw the reader into a world of fragile yet exquisite beauty. Here is a poet who is deeply in love with his landscape, whose imagery, again and again, is drawn from the raucous natural world around him. Coyotes, jays, bears, salmon, great confers, granite and glaciers--these are the characters who inhabit his poems.
Rise on clouds of tart sweet scent
a flag wrestling muscular angels of wind.
Rise to meet the dandelion glory of morning.
In "Requiem for a Steller's Jay", upon seeing the place in his garden where he once buried a dead bird, Joyce writes:
I pause, consider the sacredness
of this spot, remove my hat.
I can only hope your limping,
shattered spirit is riding
a mischievous mistral
that soars on summery
to no end.
Joyce's writing in "The Price of Transcendence" straddles effortlessly between personal, local and the universal themes. Most definitely worth a read, and then a re-read.
For your own copy, contact The New Orphic Review, visit the poet's website or, if you live in Nelson, BC., get one at Booksmyth.