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Princess Grace Irish Library - THE POETRY JOURNEY

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Par PGIL Rédigé le 31/07/2010 (dernière modification le 30/07/2010)

"The Poetry Journey" - a lecture by JAMES HARPUR, Ireland Fund of Monaco Writer-in-Residence at the Princess Grace Irish Library

Thursday 7 October 2010 at 20:00THE POETRY JOURNEY

Click on the picture to order the book
Click on the picture to order the book

It’s been said that publishing a book of poems is like "dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo", yet more people than ever before want to become poets. Why does someone decide to make poetry the centre of their lives ? Where do poets get their inspiration from and how do they sustain themselves through the ups and downs of the poetry journey ?

James will talk about the joys and travails of such a journey, describing inspirational poets of the past and exploring the different paths the poet might take. There is the inner journey to a realm of deep feeling, dream, thought, and sometimes vision, which lies beyond the boundaries of consciousness. And there’s the snakes-and-ladders’ outer journey through Poetry World, a landscape populated by figures such as editors, publishers, mentors, critics and other writers.

The poet may be tempted onto the path of affirmation, using words with all their music, painting and meaning to describe truth ; or he may be lured onto the path of negation, using words as sparingly as possible, and aware of the force of silence as much as sound.

James will look at some of these themes, illustrating them with quotes from some of our greatest poets and examples from their lives. He will also consider the place of identity, or rootedness, as well as otherness – the dimension of non-self – in the life of the poet.

For anyone interested in writing or reading poetry, or in the life of the writer, this talk will give the chance to reflect on and ask questions about how poets approach their craft.


James was born to an Irish father and a British mother and now lives near Clonakilty in County Cork.

He studied Classics and English at university then taught English on the island of Crete. Many of the poems of his first collection, A Vision of Comets, published by Anvil Press, take their inspiration from his time on Crete and from the Aegean area.

He has published three further books with Anvil, The Monk’s Dream, Oracle Bones and The Dark Age, as well as a translation of the poems of Boethius, Fortune’s Prisoner.

He has been well represented in anthologies and has won a number of awards, including the 2009 Michael Hartnett Award and British national poetry competition in 1995. He has also published a book of mixed prose and poems called The Gospel of Joseph of Arimathea (Wild Goose) and a non-fiction introduction to the Christian mystics, Love Burning in the Soul (Shambhala).

He is the poetry editor of Southword, one of Ireland’s leading literary periodicals, and the Temenos Academy Review, founded by Kathleen Raine.

James is essentially an interior poet with a fascination for spirituality, and his poems are full of references to Christian as well as to other religious traditions. Stylistically, he has a deep sympathy with the mythopœic strand of poetry, from Homer, Virgil and Dante to the Romantics and Yeats, Eliot and Ted Hughes. His non literary influences include Carl Jung and J. Krishnamurti.

Although many of his poems are clothed in the trappings of the past, his concerns – the human condition, the nature of the psyche, the yearning for spiritual meaning – are both contemporary and timeless.


When the rain stopped the rain began
And clattered beads of runny light against the panes
Decreased and crept inside the ghosts of sheep
And seeped inside the warmth of prostrate cows.
Then pelted bogs to syrupy peat
Made gravelly lanes glitter again
Beneath the melting greys of cloud and cloud
Pierced the puddles with a thousand stings
Tumbled silver through the hedges
And off the skinned shin-bones of trees;
Swept, soft again, like a haze of locusts
Across the ridge, then shifted shape in sudden wind
Drifting, finer than chimney smoke,
Like a passing pang of some great loss
Away from where more rain was coming in
From somewhere else beyond the world’s rim
Erasing gradually the misconception
That the world had ever not been rain
And rain would cease before the end of time.



“The Dark Age” will be on sale for 10 Euros (paperback). You may reserve your copy in advance. Sorry – no credit cards. Cash only.
James Harpur’s books can also be purchased on www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.fr (click on the picture to access)
He will be delighted to sign any titles you bring to the lecture.

Entry 10 Euro per person payable at the door. Reservation essential due to limited number of seats. The street doors will be closed at 20:00 sharp.

Princess Grace Irish Library
9 rue Princesse Marie-de-Lorraine
T 377 93 50 12 25 - F 377 93 50 66 65

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