Fastness: A Translation from the English of Edmund Spenser

SPENSER; TRANSLATED FROM THE ENGLISH BY TREVOR JOYCE

OCTOBER 15, 2017. 978-1-881163-61-9 
$17.00 SPD | Bookshop | Amazon | Pathway


Galactic Milk: the Five Questions of Mortality is the second collection of poems by American poet and former hardcore vocalist Frederick Farryl Goodwin, “whose debut begins with Ophelia, ends with Horace, and is populated in between with a cast ranging from Merlin to Robert Mitchum to the Buddha” (Boston Review). Here, characters are re-cast in a “strange mix of Grand Guignol and lyricism, a potent brew of fractured pastoral and seedy cityscapes, fragile confessionalism and Shakespearean film noir … The workings of some Spicerian angel … teetering on the brink of some ghastly void” (Signal to Noise Magazine). Once again, tradition fuses with machines of recombinatory energy to present a linguistically hybridized world of possibility for a high lyric of compression and genre-bending extension. Says John Latta, in his review of Virgil’s Cow: “Some astoundingly different register to the way of seeing.”

Reviews & Such

  • Richard Danson Brown (Open University) reviewed Fastness in Spenser Review 48.1.14 (Winter 2018): “Joyce’s version has the effect of making you reread the Cantos in the light of an almost wholly different poetic praxis.”
  • Headstuff.org posted a review by David Toms, “Why Edmund Spenser Matters In the 21st Century,” on Jan 29, 2018: “Joyce is utterly reshaping the language to present needs. Mutability is emboldened, ennobled, in her new speech. Thanks to Joyce’s efforts, Spenser’s freak speaks once more.”
  • Fastness is a work of shifting registers, one line aping George Herbert, another reminding us that the modern world is dominated by Sky boxes; uncertain diction … and political undertones and overtones”–Andrew Hadfield in PN Review 239, Volume 44 Number 3, Jan-Feb 2018.
  • John McAuliffe’s review of Fastness appeared in The Irish Times, Sept 23, 2017.
  • Trevor Joyce’s superb introduction to his translation of Spenser’s English into our English tells us what we need to know about Spenser’s time, his method, his politics, Ireland then, and the making of a poetry that is twined around sound, syntax, and sense. This is a bracing book held fast by multitudinous events spinning in unison. We see how the gods behaved towards Earth (a clod of turf in space) savaging her with bad weather. Wild Irish weather from mountains to sea, season to season, day to day: ever mutable. The held-fastness of the words together give indigenous a new poetic meaning.
    Fanny Howe
  • Part of a series of oversettings of Edmund Spenser’s work that commenced with Joyce’s Rome’s Wreck (2014), a monosyllabic ‘translation into English’ of the sonnet sequence The Ruines of Rome, this new rendering of Spenser’s The Mutability Cantos is nothing less than a radical postcolonial Irish poem. In FASTNESS, Joyce gives us back Spenser’s language both ruined and revived, as Spenser, the settler colonial official and land- grabber of Kilcolman Castle, Cork, plotted the ruin of Irish culture, language and people. Like Blake’s Milton, FASTNESS is Spenser’s poetry with sympathy for the devil, a language of Mutability, fast in its vernacular and in its rollicking narrative, and holding fast, as Joyce always does, to the ample resources of the language that its ruination reveals. Read, and enjoy the ride.
    David Lloyd


About the Author

For fifty years, since publication of his first book in 1967, Trevor Joyce has been a unique voice in Irish writing. His books include with the first dream of fire they hunt the cold (New Writers’ Press, 2001), Courts of Air and Earth (Shearsman Books, 2006), What’s in Store (New Writers’ Press & The Gig, 2007), and Selected Poems 1967-2014 (Shearsman Books, 2014). Rome’s Wreck (Cusp Books, 2014) is a translation under constraint from the English of Edmund Spenser’s Ruines of Rome. Joyce co-founded, in Dublin, the New Writers’ Press and its journal The Lace Curtain in the late sixties, and then the annual SoundEye Festival in Cork in the nineties. He has been included in representative anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry and Anthology of Twentieth-Century British and Irish Poetry (Oxford University Press). He was a Fulbright Scholar in 2002/3 and served as Visiting Fellow in Poetry to the University of Cambridge in 2009/10. He was elected to Aosdána, the Irish affiliation of artists, in 2004, and has been awarded in Italy the 2016 N.C. Kaser Poetry Prize. 

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