Reshaping the Light by Breda Joyce. A Review by Anne Daly

Reshaping the Light by Breda Joyce is a carefully crafted tapestry, that deftly weaves threads of light and shade through a panoply of poems ranging from the modern to the mythical.  The author’s assured voice guides the reader through the joyous, the reflective and the harrowing, with language that is richly spun and soaked in colour.  

It is a collection that explores a certain kind of stasis, an infinite moment of pause between the past and the future both in an historical and a personal context. Tourists leave tealights on a Holocaust memorial, a balled up swim-suit is taken out for one more spin, the resurrection of hope rests in the rise of bread, baking in its tin.

Above all, in this collection there is family. Mothers and Aunts grow old, children grow up and the gentle grace of sharing a life with a loving partner is captured beautifully in The Bee-Smoker. The dandelion clocks of childhood become the lilac bonds of adulthood. It is the movement of music, the variation of time signatures that jump so swiftly from a small hand wrapping around a finger to the farewell of an adult child making their own way in the world. There is the influence of Heaney in Murmuration and Picking Blackcurrants, the ability to capture the stillness of a moment and explore it vividly. For me, this is where Joyce really comes into her own, especially when describing the death of her father in The Chorus. Coming away from this collection, there is a sense of yearning, the ache to reach into the water and grasp at the phosphorescence below. It is a thoughtful collection, that will resonate with its warmth and truthfulness, full of phrases and images that play on the mind again and again, during those quiet moments at the end of the day, as the twilight approaches.

Reshaping the Light by Breda Joyce published by Chaffinch Press, 2021

Breda Joyce grew up in Co. Galway and taught at second-level in Kenya and in Cahir, Co. Tipperary. On retiring from teaching, Breda studied creative writing in UCC where she won her first poetry prize and graduated with an MA in 2020. Her work has been twice shortlisted for the Anthony Cronin and the Over the Edge Awards. She has been shortlisted for the Fish Lockdown prize 2020 and the Desmond O’ Grady prize 2021. Her short collections have been highly commended in the Fool for Poetry Chapbook competition 2019 and 2020. Her poetry appears in various publications, anthologies and literary journals, the most recent being Poems for Pandemia and The Best New British and Irish Poets Anthology 2019-2021

‘Reshaping the Light’ just published by Chaffinch Press is her first poetry collection.

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