Jim Maguire
Music Field

July 2013. 72 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-40-4
£9.50 (+ 2.00 p&p), €12.00 (+ 2.50 p&p), US$ 16.00 (+ 3.00 p&p)
"Jim Maguire's Music Field heralds a poetic talent of exciting wit, subtlety and sophistication. The poems' deftness of phrasing owes something to the music of which Maguire writes with such passion and insight. The fluent and unhurried cadences of his verse are flexible enough to accommodate wide-ranging shifts of tone from the hilarious to the poignant, but are always thoughtful, always alive and humming with linguistic possibility. Music Field is that rare thing: a first collection less of promise than of unmistakeable achievement."

Caitríona O'Reilly

"This is a wonderful collection of poems by a subtle genius who deserves a very wide audience. It is the atmosphere of music, with its structures and disciplines, that both saturates and refines the poetry of Jim Maguire. Language is his keyboard now, and he makes highly disciplined poetry with its inky black keys. His company is Mussorgsky, Brahms and Schubert as he moves through the rooms of life, wondering why the days can turn out for the worst or why it is not enough to merely sit and contemplate. His masterpieces here, 'Duparc: A Programme Note' and 'Before Music' are two of the most perfect poems I've read in many years, but they are only two of at least a dozen astonishing creations. Here is a master who knows the music of what happens, who understands the aliveness of the ordinary. Maguire is the Glenn Gould of our Irish poetry, walking out with 'the purple love / I harbour for the things I fear'."
Thomas McCarthy

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Table of Contents

Excerpts from Music Field

Music Field

Then comes the bit he's been practicing for years
but still can't get his hands around. The melody's
giddy unwrapping above the distressed inner parts,
the bass-line an unimpressed patriarchal yawn.
So why the end-of-world hush that falls over the hall?
As if on the cyclorama Lady Lavery as Caitlín
has stepped out of the pound into a stony field
with its single windswept tree like a headscarf.
Is it the tree she's trying to stare down or the boy
half-hidden behind in stiff breeches and spats,
outlandish get-up for a field, not to mention his hair
full of flowers - poppy, marigold, cyclamen -
a key in his head for each, all flat-majors and a minor
for the fuzzy horizon. Two unrelated themes
in a field, slow-circling, waiting for the trouble to begin.

De Profundis
after Trakl

It is the frozen depths of Finland.
It is the chill blue of unrisen silences in a room.
It is cajoling her into playing
and finding she cannot.
How dark the evenings have grown.

Air-raid sirens in full wail.
Women scurrying through fetid alleyways.
The music boy squats
by the collapsed pomegranates.

In the white-tiled chamber
the criminal glitter of the interrogator's eye:
You cannot go on like this.

I am the newspaper sheet
skittering among the trees.
I drank
havoc from the village fountain.

A wind circles my house.
Spiders seek my heart.
It is plainsong turned to gunshot in my ear.

At night I found myself on the outskirts,
stiff with filth and buddha-dust.
Between the mountains,
a thread of smoke rises
from the hermit's campfire.

Reviews of Music Field

"In Music Field [...] music features prominently as subject and vehicle (sometimes in metaphor) for an apprehension of the world. [...] the work is permeated by a sense both of the solidity of the real and an openness to the odd (and quasi-surreal) [...]. Best of all are the poems in which the language of music articulates the wider experience of the world, as in 'Turning' (an outstanding finale to the book) [...]. The whole makes for exhilarating reading (doubtless it helps if you share some of Maguire's musical enthusiasms) and is very firmly recommended."

Glyn Pursglove, Acumen 77 (September 2013)

"Here we have a true embodiment of the inwardness of things, the terrors of 'the cliffs of the mind' when it yearns for perfection [...]. The inspiration comes from within, not without, [...] a spirit determined not to be 'mired in the rutted lanes'. Design here comes from intuition, not from preconception, seeking the hidden effects of music and its effects upon the mind."

W. S. Milne, "The Dedicated Spirit: New Poetry", Agenda 48.1-2 (Spring/Summer 2014): 150-156; 151.

"What gives greatest pleasure here, what lends the poems such assurance and solidity, is the sense of the poems discovering themselves as they go. [...] Music Field works in a manner that is as complex and challenging and pleasureable as the greatest of music."

Richard Hayes, "Overtures", Trumpet 3 (December 2014): 15-17; 16.

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