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Naming of the Bones

John F. Deane

Cover of Naming of the Bones by John F. Deane
Categories: 21st Century, Christianity, Irish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (96 pages)
(Due Nov 2021)
9781800171886
£12.99 £11.69
  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • The poems in Naming of the Bones touch on Christian values and work towards a significant faith, at the same time focusing on the wonders of an evolving cosmos. The poems delight in the things of the earth, suggesting a secular Christianity. They hope justice will overcome human greed and violence, while they assent to the seasons developing of our landscapes and the beauty and dangers of our place in creation. The sequence 'Like the Dewfall' works with the music of the French composer Olivier Messiaen and his double piano masterpiece, 'Visions de l'Amen', a suite of seven pieces for two pianos, composed in 1943 during the Nazi Occupation of Paris. Messiaen describes the music as seven reflections of the lives of those who accept their existence with gratitude, an acceptance the poem accept, passionate, lyrical and deeply engaged. Other poems connect the 'landscape, sea-scape and sky-scape' of the Achill of Deane's formative years to the 'wonders of the Christian faith' with a sacramental awareness that is a striking feature of many of the poems.

    Fiona Sampson wrote in the Financial Times, 'The poetry here is always beautiful, and always high stakes because infused with spirituality.' And the theologian Cyril O'Regan comments, 'if Deane is not a prophetic poet by most modern standards – that is, we have to strain to hear denunciation – nonetheless, precisely as a poet he understands himself to be a witness: Poetry tells the truth that we would not tell, lifts the veil on the human condition that we would prefer not to be lifted.'
    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 ... read more
    Awards won by John F. Deane Short-listed, 2016 Irish Times Poetry Now Award  (Semibreve) Winner, 2011 Golden Key of Smederevo award

    Praise for John F. Deane 'Deane finds the embedded music of particular moments - the inscape of them - and understands their cosmic vitality... [he] draws us into deeper listening and invites us into sacred, transcendent encounter.'

    Michael P. Murphy, Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry 2019


    'John Deane invites all human beings, or pilgrims, whether Christian or not, to partake in his revelatory, redemptive collection... a true cosmic poetry for all of us, in all time.'

    Patricia McCarthy, Agenda: Ekphrastic Issue


    '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
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