Friday, May 02, 2008

Post-Poetry: John F. Deane's Vermont Reading, 5/2

Galway Kinnell delighted the Northeast Kingdom poetry fanatics this evening by bringing to Vermont his friend John F. Deane, noted Irish poet and collaborator on behalf of the abolition of war. Deane gave an hour-long reading at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, with the wild wonder of Bierstadt's "Domes of Yosemite" rising behind him out of the darkness. Raised as a "militant Roman Catholic," Deane often shapes his poems around elements of the Mass, as well as its great works of music. I picked up a copy of his 2003 volume MANHANDLING THE DEITY, which opens each section with an Officium and braids into the sequence a "Processional," "Magdalene," even "Recessional" and "Canticle" (one of Deane's few happy poems, he confessed -- saying that in a nation of endless rain, he writes a happy piece about once in 14 years).

Enunciating carefully to keep his readers on track around the variation of an Irish way of speech, Deane noted that he expects poetry to change people's thinking, and gave generous descriptions of landscape, custom, and language. With his wife in the audience, he also delivered a love poem, "Late October Evening," which could have been spoken from a Vermont landscape too, and which concludes:

You and I drew closer still
in the fire’s glow, grateful this far
for love and friendship, while the low hill
melded with the dark and a perfect star

swung on its shoulder. When I turned back,
near sleep, to hold you, I could pray
our dead content again under black
sails, the tide brimming, then falling away.

Deane writes fiction and essays as well as his poems, and is a leader in Irish and European poetry organizations. His web site is well worth exploring:

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