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James Joyce is famous as a novelist and short story writer, but what about James Joyce the poet? On this week's Poetry Programme Gerard Smyth talks with presenter Olivia O'Leary about the poetry of James Joyce.
Joyce's first book was a collection of poems, Chamber Music, published in 1907. To readers used to his experimentation with language, they sound rather traditional and old-fashioned. Joyce regarded them as songs and down through the years they have inspired musicians from Geoffrey Molyneux Palmer to Sonic Youth to set them to music. The final poem in the collection, Chamber Music XXXVI, is generally regarded as the best and still has a resonance in today's world.
In his second collection, Pomes Penyeach, published in 1927, there is more of the wordplay and Catholic imagery that we are used to seeing in his prose work. Olivia and Gerard also talk about Gas from a Burner, a satirical poem which Joyce wrote to express his displeasure at the burning by his publishers of copies of Dubliners.
Joyce's Collected Poems was published in 1936 and includes one of his best known poems, Ecce Puer, written to mark his grandson's birth and the recent death of his father.
Joyce's poems are read throughout the programme by Phelim Drew, and the programme ends with a musical setting of Bahnhofstasse, performed by musicians Lisa Hannigan, Adrian Crowley, Matthew Nolan and Cora Venus Lunny, from their album Pomes Penyeach, available from dublinvinyl.com.
Photo: Gerard Smyth