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John W Irvine

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Member Since: Sep, 2008

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Man of Stone
by John W Irvine   

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Books by John W Irvine
· Anomalous Appetites
· Blood Curry
· Dare to fly
· Rat atouille for the rindless
                >> View all



Publisher:  Zenith Publishing Group ISBN-10:  1877365343 Type: 


ISBN-13:  9781877365348

An honest look at my own life from the long end... illustrated.

Music for the mind

Here is my first legitimately-published book. It is a slender collection of self-observations which are honest and undefended. The poetry is enhanced by NZ atist Aimee Hare.


Tick Tock

Coiled tight
over-wound like a clock spring
counting down
listening for the dread sounds of my

Professional Reviews

Man of Stone
Stunningly crafted, lively, readable and accessible, Man of Stone offers a compelling mix of sex, overindulgence, travel, love and despair.
Share the essence of John Irvine's soul through these free-spirited poems. John Irvine's poems have a strong sense of narrative, painting a kind of poetic self-portrait. This man is an astute observer of life, the imagery is nothing short of astounding.
His poems have a perceivable texture as they weave their way through his life. His is a journey that follows an escape route from conventionality, evokes vivid images of an inner struggle, exposes the sharpness of a rebellious edge and challenges your thinking.
Ingenious, at times outrageous, funny and fresh!

Man of Stone
Man of Stone
by John Irvine
ISBN: 1-877365-34-3
Published by Zenith Publishing
May be purchased directly from the publisher here.

It is difficult to get past the first poem in this book. Why? Because it’s so good. I’ve been looking at page one off and on all morning, simply for the sheer pleasure of re-reading “I flew once”. Deceptively simple, and heartbreakingly truthful, this poem sets the tone for the book; an anthology of surprising intimacy complemented by exquisite illustrations by Aimee Hare.

These poems of mature introspection give the reader a glimpse into a fascinating character, and one whose facility with words means that there is no struggle here, no need to grab a dictionary and attempt to decipher what on earth he means. This is clear, transparent, touching, witty, and above all honest poetry. There is no subterfuge. What you see is what you get with John Irvine, for example in this stanza from “Groovin’ with Leonard” which describes trying to write poetry whilst listening to Leornard Cohen.

he tells of having
to do it drunk
I try to comply
but lose touch
as I need to piss
and he doesn’t
it’s not really fair
but then he’s famous
and maybe the famous
don’t need to piss
when it really matters

Then there are the poems about love and living with someone and all the complexities of such relationships. As Irvine writes:

So much easier
to write about it
than to deal with it…

His insight is profound in many of these poems, but never maudlin.

Every so often there is a complete change of pace and style, and we get an Elizabethan sonnet. I love the opening of “Another Drink”

Another drink, my friends, and then mayhap
my whore, my muse will see fit to anoint
my rusting nib with some poetic crap.

Written, no doubt, with a wry smile, these are often earthy and thoroughly Elizabethan in content, never mind form. Irvine’s iambic pentameter is sometimes wayward in its application, but these sonnets are good fun, and provide a lively contrast to the free verse of the other poems.

Irvine is a poet’s poet in many ways. Anyone who has ever submitted a poem to a writers’ group or forum will empathise with these lines from “Death by Haiku”

I watched
as my lines
and my thoughts
were bludgeoned
to death
by righteousness.

The final poem, “Man of Stone”, is a bleak summing up, which made me want to return and read the very first poem – “I flew once” – yet again.

I’m glad I did.

Cathy Emunds

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