THE OLD NOISE OF TRUTH
Poems by Joan Downar
Joan Downar is an ex-librarian and ex-teacher who lives in the country outside Nottingham. The Old Noise Of Truth, her second Peterloo collection, opens with a subtle and moving sequence of ‘Poems From India’. A second (larger) section of ‘Poems From England’ offers a great variety of accessible and technically accomplished poems that constantly surprise and disturb with their depth of feeling and moral insight.
From reviews of Joan Downar’s first collection, The Empire Of Light (Peterloo Poets, 1984):
“Joan Downar’s first collection, The Empire Of Light, is lucid but artful. It takes its title from a painting by René Magritte of an evening scene, street-lit, below a bright, summery, day-time sky: dislocation of the expected depending on the juxtaposition of contradictory naturalistic views rather than any outrageous shock. It is an image which is particularly appropriate to Downar’s work. Her poetry naturalizes its suprises and throws daylight on the concerns of evening . . . an unfussy movement between different moods and different levels of meaning is characteristic of Downar’s poetry. . . . Particularly impressive are the poems written to a friend dying in New Zealand and the rather Marvellian poems about gardens in which she envokes a ‘tenuous / Eden’ . . . Downar’s art is not concerned with drawing attention to itself, yet her wry indirection demonstrates most her seriousness as a poet.”
Tim Dooley, Times Literary Supplement
“The Empire Of Light contains a number of graceful poems on love and childhood. At her best [Joan Downar] moves smoothly from one image to the next, almost as if she were telling a story . . . There are some dozen or so really good poems here where the electricity runs straight through.”
George Szirtes, Poetry Review
Flying Alongside Everest
Flying alongside Everest, we saw
the mountains standing clear
of their gauzy ruffs, the tallest
with its tiny attendant puff
of cloud (“That’s it – that’s it!”)
blameless on cathedral blue.
We queued up, two by two,
to snap it. The Americans’
cameras gasped. We agreed,
it was impressive. But somehow
it was like coming suddenly on faith
when you hadn’t prayed nearly enough.
Tense in our shuddering machine
I thought we should have begun
in the foothills, treading
the old way on fresh snow,
but knew that spirit and flesh seldom
make such exquisite journeys so.
THE OLD NOISE OF TRUTH
Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: from an old Kashmiri wooden block that would probably have been used for printing cloth.
Publication: SPRING 1989 (64 pages laminated paperback)