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John F. Deane

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  • John F. Deane was born on Achill Island in 1943. He founded Poetry Ireland – the National Poetry Society – and The Poetry Ireland Review in 1978, and is the founder of The Dedalus Press, of which he was editor from 1985 until 2006. In 2008 he was visiting scholar in the Burns Library of Boston College. He was Teilhard de Chardin Fellow in Christian Studies at Loyola University, Chicago, in 2016 and taught a course in poetry. John F. Deane’s poetry has been translated and published in France, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Italy, Slovakia, Sweden and other countries. His poems in Italian won the 2002 Premio Internazionale di Poesia Città di Marineo. His fiction has been published by Blackstaff Press in Belfast; his most recent novel Where No Storms Come was published by Blackstaff in 2011. He is the recipient of the O’Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poetry and the Marten Toonder Award for Literature. John F. Deane is a member of Aosdána, the body established by the Arts Council to honour artists ‘whose work had made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland.’ His poetry has been shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize. In 1996 Deane was elected Secretary-General of the European Academy of Poetry. In 2007 he was made Chevalier en l’ordre des arts et des lettres by the French government.
    'In Naming of the Bones, Deane has assembled poetry of the most sublime beauty, arising out of thought processes that are profoundly Catholic in their early formation, yet now embracing the widest possible Christian earthliness. He is unceasing, relentless, in his thinking quest for the incomprehensible heavens, for that sense of godliness between saffron light and full moon.'

    Thomas McCarthy, The Irish Catholic

    'The highest levels of poetic craft and persuasion... Naming of the Bones is not just a spiritual journey; it is a lyrical one, filled with sonic texturing at the level of song and original figurative language that is never ornamental but always essential.'

    Fred Dings, World Literature Today

     'Deane is a skilled observer-of-things and he has the gift of a silvery tongue, the true poet's flair with words...All this is the assured writing of someone who has spent a lifetime in the contemplation of such things.'

    Stuart Henson, London Grip

    'It is a long, grave, sober, deep-grounding book, as elegant and eloquent as it is fragile.'

    Michael Glover, The Tablet

    'Master-sonneteer, the Teilhard de Chardin of Irish poetry, Achill chronicler and gazer at the heavens, John F. Deane has created a real beauty of a collection in Dear Pilgrims.'

    Thomas McCarthy, Poetry Ireland Review  

      'These are words of a poet who lives history, who breathes at one with the world around him. Deane reminds the reader that we live only for a short while on this rock in space but that that time is precious and profound. We are all dear pilgrims - whether we realise it or not.'
    Dublin Review of Books
     'These poems are rich, evocative, replete with natural imagery, searching to know and express the unknowable.'
    Niamh Pattwell, The Furrow
    'Deane's work has always been distinguished by the wholeness of it's vision, and the poems of Dear Pilgrims are no exception: the joy and compassion of his responses to the natural world are of a piece with his spiritual preoccupations, and gesture towards his poetic forebears, in particular Hopkins and Kavanagh.'
    Caitriona O'Reilly, The Irish Times
      'Both these collections (Dear Pilgrims & The White Silhouette by James Harpur) give the lie to the idea that it is no longer possible to think and write creatively and freshly about religion in modern poetry: both Deane and Harpur look back for some of their insights, especially biographically, but their poetry remains conspicuously watching, tasting and touching today's world.'
    Stride Magazine

      'There is light and muscularity in these poems that sometimes unexpectedly recalls Ted Hughes'
    Stride Magazine
    'On a simple level, the poems in John F Deane's Semibreve (Carcanet) are elegies for the past and specifically for a lost brother. More profoundly, they teach us how bereavement, touched by a poet's tongue, can become a shared gift: "wonders of the flesh and spirit, a road-map for a shattered faith"'.
    The Guardian
      'Music, a stony, damp and deeply alive landscape (both Ireland and the Holy Land), a passionate and searching engagement with God -  specifically with the local and physical God that is the central figure of the gospels - these are poems with all of John Deane's familiar richness. A deeply welcome collection.'
    Rowan Williams
    'Deane is a true poet. I have not space here to do him justice'
    Helena Nelson, Ambit
    'Deane is an exemplary poet.'
    Gerard Smyth, Warwick Review
    'The power of Toccata and Fugue lies in its beautiful rendering of unbeautiful things. Deane takes as his subjects what might ordinarily make one turn away: road kill, snared vermin, kittens in a sack weighed with stones for drowning, a seal washed ashore to die, lambs taken for slaughter, worms hooked for fishing and snails tortured by a child. Yet there is nothing pathological about it. Compassion not cruelty motivates the speakers in his poems whose unwavering gaze attests to their engagement with these subjects.'
    Georgia Scott, Poetry Salzburg Review Autumn 2002
    Awards won by John F. Deane Short-listed, 2016 Irish Times Poetry Now Award  (Semibreve) Winner, 2011 Golden Key of Smederevo award

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