First Light

first-lightFirst Light
The Dedalus Press, 2003
ISBN: 1-904556-02-7

First Light is very fine work indeed. Agee seems to have hit that fine balance between allusiveness and clarity, and formal control and spontaneity, that so few poets manage nowadays.”

— Don Paterson

“This is outstanding, mysterious, and beautiful work, and it deserves an American audience.”

— Emerson Blake

“There are many reasons the book might be long-awaited and why it should be spoken well of. Agee’s lyric gift is considerable … In the very first poem, ‘Seacave,’ he tells us how, ‘You could hear the furious sizzle of midsummer crickets / Droning their hoarse heat-song and timed threnody / To a noon crescendo.’ It is one of a series of tours de force …”

— George Szirtes, The Irish Times

“With First Light, Chris Agee makes a formidable impression with poems that show commitment, range, learning, skill, seriousness. Here is a poet that does not shirk the labour that Ezra Pound referred to when he said that each moment of inspiration has to be paid for in advance. Agee is in the line – or perhaps the wake – of the great modernists in that he has learned and absorbed their attitudes and methods. His poems are usually easily intelligible, but do not cater to the reader, frequently making references to places and people with whom he or she cannot be too familiar. An exciting tension runs through his work … It is refreshing to find someone writing so well as the opposite pole from the jokey postcard-type verse that so many now think is adequate. A celebratory if rigorous humanism pervades this book.”

— Rory Brennan, Books Ireland

“Agee is a good carpenter. There’s a restraint and control in particular in the poems, which comes to counterpoint their detailed imagery … Agee is not merely interested in creating a language of description, however. His descriptions break into meditation, question and assertion in a way which suggests that his real interest lies in the attempt to render his own individual consciousness of time and place. There’s something Proustian in the enterprise … There’s also something of W.G. Sebald in the way Agee mixes factual detail and reflection in an attempt to create a kind of personal intellectual climate … The fidelity to his own experience that marks all of his poetry, is vital to its success.”

— John Knowles, Fortnight