The Fire of Joy: Roughly 80 Poems to Get by Heart and Say Aloud (Hardback)
  • The Fire of Joy: Roughly 80 Poems to Get by Heart and Say Aloud (Hardback)
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The Fire of Joy: Roughly 80 Poems to Get by Heart and Say Aloud (Hardback)

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£20.00
Hardback 320 Pages
Published: 01/10/2020
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Waterstones Says

Curated and completed by the renowned polymath shortly before his passing, this expansive poetry anthology offers James’s lively and insightful commentary on each of the poems selected.

Clive James read, learned and recited poetry aloud for most of his life. In this book, completed before just before his death, he offers a selection of his favourite poems and a personal commentary on each.

In the last months of his life, his vision impaired by surgery and unable to read, Clive James explored the treasure-house of his mind: the poems he knew best, so good that he didn't just remember them, he found them impossible to forget. The Fire of Joy is the record of this final journey of recollection and celebration. Enthralled by poetry all his life, James knew hundreds of poems by heart. In offering this selection of his favourites, a succession of poems from the sixteenth century to the present, his aim is to inspire you to discover and to learn, and perhaps even to speak poetry aloud.

In his highly personal anthology, James offers a commentary on each of the eighty or so poems: sometimes a historical or critical note on the poem or its author, sometimes a technical point about the poem's construction from someone who was himself a poet, sometimes a personal anecdote about the role the poem played in his own life.

Whether you're familiar with a poem or not - whether you're familiar with poetry in general or not - these chatty, unpretentious, often tender mini-essays convey the joy of James's enthusiasm and the benefit of his knowledge. His urgent wish was to share with a new generation what he himself had loved. This is a book to be read cover to cover or dipped into: either way it generously opens up a world for our delight.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 9781529042085
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 374 g
Dimensions: 205 x 138 x 35 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

A treasure trove of poetic pleasure - The Times

The Fire of Joy is a proper pleasure. Fun and fight-picking, wise and persuasive. James loves a layman and, by the end, the layman certainly loves James . . . “It’s a dipper,” said my husband, reading over my shoulder. If I wasn’t on review duty, that’s the way I’d read it: dipping in at random, at bedtime, a poem a night. - Laura Freeman, The Times

The Fire of Joy is a set of personal, quintessentially Jamesian commentaries on 80 of his favourite poems. - Guardian

A must for anthology lovers . . . The late, great critic and poet doesn't so much look forward as back; these are old favourites (Byron, Wordsworth, Masefield, Owen) from a lifetime’s reading, with personal notes on each one. I found it moving as well as a joy. - Bel Mooney, Daily Mail

A wonderful anthology of 80 or so poems to memorise and read aloud, selected by the late critic and humorist Clive James. Enjoy the poems and his witty, opinionated mini-essays about his choices. - The Times Best Books of 2020 So Far…

Clive James’s joyous farewell . . . from Thomas Wyatt to Carol Ann Duffy, this valedictory volume features 80 poems he learned and loved, each accompanied by an essay to persuade us of their brilliance. - Rishi Dastidar, Guardian, Best Poetry of 2020

Clive James was so prolific that he’s still publishing books a year after his death . . . [These] are poems to “murmur under your breath at the bus stop, declaim aloud in the bath, roar from the rooftops”. - James Marriott, The Times, Best Literary Non-fiction Books of the Year 2020

A book to lighten the darkness . . . What links them all [the selected poems] are Clive James’ typically witty, sometimes abrasive and always passionate comments. It’s a book to dip into and ponder in this bleak midwinter. - Piers Plowright, Tablet

Extraordinarily cogent . . . I have read many old men’s books over the years, and even the best writers often lose their flavour . . . But this book shows no diminution whatever of James’s talents, and it’s fueled by his obvious love of the form. - Marcus Berkmann, Spectator

[This book] is full of boisterous life . . . His farewell is funny, intellectually sharp and a faithful companion for this age of turmoil and uncertainty . . . [it] rings and rhymes with passion and learning from a big brain who found room in his soul for poetry and in his heart for the contentment it can bring in good times and the solace it carries in bad times. - Hugh MacDonald, Herald

The context of [this book's] composition is inescapable and each choice seems more moving in light of James’ impending demise . . . The Fire of Joy is a generous and genial valediction from one of Australia’s most famous wits. - James Antoniou, Sydney Morning Herald

A deeply affecting book that blends autobiography with literary criticism, and is filled with James’s trademark breezy erudition and wit . . . It is indeed a joy to read, and savour. - Troy Bramston, Weekend Australian

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“The joy of poetry”

If like me you love poetry this book is a delight. An idiosyncratic but excellent choice of poems to learn and recite seasoned with James' informed and acerbic commentary. His wit and erudition shines through the... More

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