Painting with Words (2017)

Poetry New Zealand Review

Books and Magazines in brief:

Terence O’Neill-Joyce. Painting with Words: a Collection of Poems. Warkworth: Video Pacific Communications Limited, 2017. 182 pp.

Terence O'Neill-Joyce: Painting with Words (2017)

Terence O’Neill-Joyce’s book is clearly the work of a lifetime: it contains literally hundreds of poems presented in A4 format with photos and illustrations. Virtually all of them are centred in the middle of the page – an easy task in the digital age – but also a measure of a certain lack of attention to differentiating them one from another.

Some of the poems are clearly meant as song lyrics – a field in which O’Neill-Joyce has had a good deal of success (he won a New Zealand Music award for ‘outstanding contribution to music’ in 1980, and still owns the company Videopacific Communications Limited).

For me, the best ones are those which record conversations or incidents of the wayside on the author’s numerous travels over the years: ‘Taxi Fare’ (1999), for instance, or the fascinating evocation of Mexico ‘Taxco.’

O’Neill-Joyce dedicates his collection to ‘the Presence that is never absent, call it angelic, spirit, guardian, I am in no doubt that behind the curtain of this supposed world of “reality” there is another place from whence we came and to where we will go.’

This essentially Platonic view of nature as (in W. B. Yeats’s words) ‘a spume that plays / Upon a ghostly paradigm of things’ is not one I could really assent to wholeheartedly myself, but I may well be in the minority in that. I’m glad for Terence O’Neill-Joyce’s sake that he’s been able to put on record his engagement with this world over so many fruitful years, however.

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