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A major new collection from a poet at the apogee of his career. In a series of poems that tell a story, John Fuller contemplates that age-old question of 'Life versus Art'. The verse is both a brilliant pastiche of such great artists as Petrarch, Coleridge and Wallace Stevens, and an exploration of their private lives and craft.

The Space of Joy is a sequence of poems that recounts the endless desire for love (and the failures and compromises that accompany that desire) in a number of writers and musicians who fatally prioritise their art. It begins with Petrarch, who created great lyric poetry out of an impossible infatuation, and moves through Coleridge's self-induced guilt within domestic happiness, Matthew Arnold's disbelief in mutual love, Brahm's self-delusion and the complexities of Wallace Stevens's marriage. It so happens that both Brahms and Arnold found themselves contemplating their art and their lives in the small Swiss town of Thun, and it is Thun that provides the setting for the wonderful concluding poem of this collections in which Fuller thinks back to his own boyood and his parents' marriage.

If there is any resolution in this sequence of magnificently playful and thought-provoking poems, it is the conviction that while 'poetry may be the only heaven we have', it is life itself that must create the 'space of joy' which art wishes to celebrate.

Formats & editions

  • The Space of Joy
    John Fuller

    Trade Paperback

    9780701181109

    November 15, 2006

    Chatto & Windus

    96 pages

    RRP $36.99

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