Monday, February 8, 2021

John F. Deane*

John F. Deane is an Irish poet from Achill Island. His numerous poetry collections include Snow Falling on Chestnut Hill: New and Selected Poems (2012) and Dear Pilgrims (2018) both from Carcanet. His contributions to the art of poetry in Ireland, to the rest of the English-speaking world and even well beyond that, are significant. He has received such awards as the O’Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poetry, and has been named Chevalier, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. On a personal note, I have found Deane to be one of the poets who most speaks to me in recent years.

His poetry can be found in several Irish anthologies, and is one of the poets I featured in the International anthology, The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry.

In reading his book Give Dust a Tongue: A Faith & Poetry Memoir (2015, Columba) I was taken with his vision to participate in fulfilling “the need for our world and age to forge a poetry of personal encounter with Jesus” ― a significant calling, and a quest worth pursuing! He tells me that his new collection Naming of the Bones is to appear from Carcanet in November of 2021.

The following poem first appeared in The Christian Century and is from his recent collection Dear Pilgrims.

The Whole World Over


I see him, mariner Jesus, walking on corrupted
waters of the Danube while down in silted depths
lurk the unexploded bombs of lately wars; I walk out,
hand in hand with the poem, crossing on the high

redemption bridge, to earth corrupted by tar and concrete,
where down in the darkly shiftless soil words crawl,
eyeless and eager. Between sleep and day, light
and black, I grow conscious of compelling truths—

but something in the ego-wassailing of flesh compels me
back to comfort, and something in the slippery
eel-mud of the mind eases towards sleep, though always

Jesus plods on over all the corrupted waters
heading for the unforgiving hill, for his piercing
cry of forgiveness out-into-the-outraged world.

Posted with permission of the poet.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about John F. Deane: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.