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RRP: GBP 7.99
ISBN: 978 1 784105 87 7
Categories: 21st Century, Catholic, Irish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: June 2018
112 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Paperback, eBook (Kindle)
With ‘Crocus: a brief history’, John F. Deane sets his Dear Pilgrims in motion, a series of brief histories of time, a time that is rich in incident and in redemption. In a decisively secular age, Deane’s is a poetry of Christian belief. It explores renewal, alive with and to the kinds of witness he has learned from George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins and R.S. Thomas. His ‘I’, like theirs, makes space for a reluctant ‘us’.
Dear Pilgrims includes actual pilgrimages. The poet moves through England (East Anglia in particular), Israel and Palestine, disclosing a ‘new testament’ that revisions the Christian faith through the eyes of an unknown female disciple of Christ. He vividly adapts the Middle English poem Pearl and realises it for our time. He is also a master of the sonnet as an instrument of love, doubt and faith.
The poet’s voice, perhaps because of the timeless wisdom it carries, is vital and contemporary. It is no surprise that the founder of Poetry Ireland and Dedalus Press is a poet of wide reading and vision. The clarity of his verse and purpose makes his voice unique. Rowan Williams celebrates his ‘Music, a stony, damp and deeply alive landscape (both Ireland and the Holy Land), a passionate and searching engagement with God’.
Awards won by John F. Deane Short-listed, 2016 Irish Times Poetry Now Award (Semibreve) Winner, 2011 Golden Key of Smederevo award
'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.'
'There is light and muscularity in these poems that sometimes unexpectedly recalls Ted Hughes'
Praise for John F. Deane '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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