J a m e s   H a r p u r    
     

  Poetry / Translations ~  click on each cover below to go to reviews and ordering details  
                   
 

           

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

                 
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Order from Anvil Press

Tel: +44 (0)20 8469 3033
Fax: +44 (0)20 8469 3363

info@anvilpresspoetry.com

 

Angels and Harvesters

James Harpur’s fifth volume of poetry, Angels and Harvesters (Anvil Press), explores Irish landscapes and lore, including a ‘leper’s squint’ in Limerick, a churchyard ghost in Inchigeela, the sacred site of Gougane Barra, and his parents’ honeymoon in Kerry. It also probes mystery and mysticism through figures such as Julian of Norwich in her anchorite’s cell, Marguerite Porete, burned to death for her beliefs, and Hildegard of Bingen entering an ecstatic trance.

Tender, spiritual and lyrical, Angels and Harvesters is another attempt by Harpur to reconcile a bifurcated life: aether and earth, saints and lepers, spirit and soul, angels and harvesters.

It is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

 

 

   
       
       
       
       
       
         
 
 
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Order from Anvil Press

Tel: +44 (0)20 8469 3033
Fax: +44 (0)20 8469 3363

info@anvilpresspoetry.com

 

The Dark Age  Winner of the 2009 Michael Hartnett Award

‘His poetry, always strongly imbued with a sense of the sacred, makes great play of light’s spiritual resonance ... his brilliant imagery and luxuriant natural descriptions offer plenty to enjoy.’
Sarah Crown, The Guardian

'The presence of divinity within The Dark Age is tender, subtle, Harpur is not proselytising. And if the force of "God" is present throughout, it's mostly through the inexplicable process that brings the supernal into art, sewing itself through the poetry with a gilt thread that makes Harpur's words sing.'
Grace Wells, Contrary Magazine (Chicago)

'Harpur is all rock and soul, a spiritual poet, the visionary in the desert ... he is drawn to the early Irish saints (Columba, Kevin, Brendan, Gobnait) and ... Symeon Stylites, who lived on top of a pillar ... [these themes] help to unlock the mystical in the poetry reader and the poetic in the seeker of religious enlightenment.'
Rory Brennan (Books Ireland)

'Despite its title, Harpur's The Dark Age, an exploration of Christian spirituality and the challenges and losses of middle age, gleams with images of redemption ... like Eliot's Beckett, Harpur's Stylites is tempted by both fame and its insidious shadow, spiritual pride; he too must endure a literal fall in order to achieve understanding that every human individual "is Christ/Walking along through fields of wheat/Or by the sea of Galilee".  Fiona Sampson, The Irish Times

'This is not California, not Hockney 's incandescent poolside: it is windswept Iona and blasted Arimathea ... The Dark Age is a supremely beautiful collection.'
Thomas McCarthy, Southword

'He writes movingly of the burden of prophetic obedience, and enables historic echoes of "devilish tricks", miracles, and powerful prayer to ring true in contemporary language.'   Martyn Halsall, Church Times

'Harpur succeeds in making these half-forgotten heroes of antiquity live, capturing glimmers of old light for a new dark age ... they have the feel of bright miniatures painted inside the initial letters of a medieval manuscript ­ vivid pictures that also happen to talk ... Harpur leads us into the difficult territory where words cease to be of use. His triumph in The Dark Age is to make the darkness shimmer with light.'  
Duncan Sprott, Agenda

'Most of the other poems in this collection do use set forms, with breathtaking fluency. Harpur's use of rhyme, phrasing and diction have a seemingly effortless grace ... the book's part 2 is a series of thirteen sonnets about Irish saints ... Each story is perfectly encapsulated. Irish settings are evoked in almost every one ... The Dark Age opens with 'Roscommon Rain', one of the most lovely poems about rain you could hope to read.'  Mark Roper, Poetry Ireland Review
 

   
       
       
       
       
       
         
         
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
         
         
                 
 
 
                 
                 
 

 

Fortune’s Prisoner: The Poems of Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy

 ‘Imprisoned by Theodoric, the Ostrogothic king of Italy, and facing the possibility of execution, the Roman statesman and philosopher Boethius (c. 480-524) wrote his famous Consolation of Philosophy, a work that combines prose with verse.  

‘With a poet’s flair, James Harpur has rendered the Consolation’s poems in a fresh, modern translation as a sequence in their own right. From the prisoner’s initial despairing dirge, to Philosophy’s final plea for people to recognize their divine nature, the poems explore classic themes such as the character of Fortune, free will, the problem of evil and the nature of justice.  
‘For poetry lovers, Classicists and Boethius enthusiasts alike, this is a book that takes the reader on journey into the mind and soul of one of the most profound and influential of Roman writers.’ 

‘Boethius’s deeply intricate thought is here distilled into beautiful aperçus .... as a dream dreamt in a cell of nightmare, it should inspire everyone.’
Murrough O’Brien, Independent on Sunday

'Harpur has done a fine job in presenting his subject in a fresh and original way.'
Rory Brennan, Books Ireland

'Harpur makes exquisite music out of this material ... He has made true poems in our vernacular, but the language, or clusters of images and persons, does
create an alternative, complete world. It is fine work.'  Thomas McCarthy, Southword

 

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
       
       
   

 

 
     

 

 
 

Order from Anvil Press

Tel: +44 (0)20 8469 3033
Fax: +44 (0)20 8469 3363

info@anvilpresspoetry.com

 

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
     

 

 
     

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
                 
     

 

 

 

 

 

 
   

Oracle Bones 

‘James Harpur is ... not in the least like anyone else ... His is an amazingly consistent voice, compelling in intensity....his is a world of insight and intuitions....If you’re brave enough, read him. He will take you into a world you will find difficult to forget.’   R.J. Bailey, Envoi 

“Harpur takes the stuff of superstition – a Celtic monk, a Delphic priest, an Assyrian extispicist, a superannuated auspex – and gives it a persuasively timeless, often disturbing significance ... Oracle Bones offers a kind of religious poetry. It does not, however, carry a whiff of the ‘pious’ – rather, it has ‘a sense of the sacred running in parallel to the quotidian’.   Peter Reading, TLS

 ‘The movement of the verse is beautifully controlled, the employment of rhyme (or, more precisely, near-rhyme) wonderfully delicate. Harpur’s craftmanship articulates a sense of profound spirituality – especially in ‘Dies Irae’, a long poem, spoken out of the Dark Ages, that I felt compelled to read over and over ... The volume of poetry published this year that I have returned to most often ...’   Anthony Haynes, The Tablet (Books of the year)

‘This is serious stuff ... a map of heaven and hell, of prayer and meditation, of redemption and of unity ... Harpur’s genius has in ‘Dies Irae’ produced the answer to ‘The Waste Land’ that Eliot himself was himself incapable of. It remains only for the rest of us to catch up, and catch on.’ Michael Killingworth, Magma

 

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
       
       
       
         
 

Order from Anvil Press

Tel: +44 (0)20 8469 3033
Fax: +44 (0)20 8469 3363

info@anvilpresspoetry.com

     
       
       
       
       
                 
                 
 
 
                 
                 
 


 

 

The Monk’s Dream 

“James Harpur’s second book is disciplined, intelligent...His sources are the Bible, the Aeneid, Bede and Irish laments. But Harpur doesn’t flirt with erudition. The Monk’s Dream is an intricate exploration of death – not death alone, but the mystery that surrounds the experience...The title poem...suggests a belief in unseen forces, be they supernatural or imaginative; because of these, an ordinary life is significant beyond death. This idea also informs several of the book’s excellent translations and adaptations. In all, The Monk’s Dream is a finely weighted and balanced work of elegy.”  Richard Tyrell, TLS

“His whole collection represents a struggle with a conundrum with mortality...At the centre is the sonnet sequence about his father’s death, ‘The Frame of Furnace Light’. It is an extraordinary piece of writing... Harpur represents his father with such clarity and sympathy as to render his gradual decline almost unbearable.”  Maggie O’Farrell, Poetry Review 

“Harpur’s work is grounded in a firm awareness of the ‘sensate life’...but whether in an unnamed monk’s prophetic dream of the death of William II, in Enkidu’s dying dream of the underworld, or in the spiritual apprehensions which characterise the more directly personal poems, there is everywhere a sense of what lies beyond the limitations of the merely sensate. Harpur is a serious and intelligent poet who deserves to find many readers.”  Glyn Pursglove, Acumen 

‘Sure-footed and accessible, with the occasional touch of that rarest of qualities, pure insight.’ Glyn Holden, Ambit

   
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
         
 

Out of print

     
         
       
       
       
       
       
       
         
                 
 
 
                 
                 
 

Out of print

 

A Vision of Comets

 “Mandalas, heavenly bodies, Greek mythology, temples and cathedrals give James Harpur’s first collection a sense of the sacred running in parallel to the quotidian, and while the poems often reach into the exotic or esoteric, they are nevertheless accurately and cleanly made observances of a world the senses have access to.”  Poetry Ireland Review

 “Harpur is just how I like poets – skilled, erudite, in love with language, and with proper humility.”  Stride 

 “Harpur’s tunes are chiefly lyrical ... the ‘welter of accumulated memories’is skilfully caught.”  Independent on Sunday 

 “It is in his poems on religious themes that the poet comes into his own, skillfully using a fluid free verse in the monologues ‘Samson to his Maker’ and ‘Messiah’ and creating a frieze of great charm in ‘The Magi’.  Poetry Wales

 “Harpur’s sensibility is attuned to love, time, myth, the numinous – the makings of poetry...my opinion warmed as I read ... Harpur has an imaginative wonder.”  London Magazine

   
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
         
 

Tel: +44 (0)20 8469 3033
Fax: +44 (0)20 8469 3363

info@anvilpresspoetry.com

     
       
       
               
               
               
                 
 
 
                 
                 
 

 

Order from
www.ionabooks.com

  The Gospel of Joseph of Arimathea

'James Harpur uses the legend of Joseph of Arimathea's voyage to Britain's shores with the young Jesus as the prompt for Joseph to search out those who were closest to Jesus in his final years. As he continues to travel around on business, Joseph describes each meeting in prose, and then the person he is visiting tells of his/her time with Jesus in hauntingly beautiful poetry. The words play on your imagination till you can see the scene that they are describing. I found I had to read it to myself as if I was reading aloud, and then go back to the beginning and read it through again and again.'  
Mary Bartholomew GoodBookStall


 

   
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
         
                 
 
 
                 
 

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