Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review of Magisterium

"Magisterium is an intricate collection. There is a subtlety to this poetry that defies any crude attempt to label it ‘political’, while politics remains a deep and orienting awareness in all of Deane’s verse. ...

"This volume, as with his last, is haunted by Deane’s children lost in childbirth, yet one of its last poems, dedicated to his daughter allows a note of healing, however difficult: ‘When, in that perfect moment, I first hold you, / and golden light refracts the lens / of this obsidian heart.’ Obsidian or not, it is clear that there is a fierce, real heart driving Deane’s poetry and like [Judith] Wright’s, it attempts to span this whole country. He is also a poet who cares about how Australia is represented in poetry. ‘Duyken 1606’, which traces the landing of the Dutch East India ship on Cape York Peninsula, is possibly one of our best poems about the first foreign encounters with this continent, written with a courageous sparseness that reveals yet another dimension of this fascinating poet."

- Natalie Owen-Jones, Stylus Poetry Journal

Review of £10 Poems

'This latest collection has a dark tone. Deane’s world is one in which he is witness to the despairs and joys which is life. Provocation, not subtlety, is the writer’s special effect. He demonstrates this in two poems: “Sea Lake” and “Prehistoric”. “Sea Lake” plays on the anxieties we feel in the age of global warming: “This land / is a drowning land. // Red chalk earth / stirred by // a desert northerly, / choking you,” while “Prehistoric” has the flavor of a cautionary tale:

I dreamt
I died
in the compression,
became a seam
of brown coal

'These sentiments mess with a reader’s head. It is the compression and the feeling of being buried alive that both repel and attract us, and around which the poet navigates his thoughts. ...

'Sweet, sour, comic, cosmic, Deane’s wisdom lies in its fidelity: to the fox that strikes suddenly, and to the lamb that escapes to the “stolen field.” Deane bears witness, and we relish the confirmation of his testimony.'

- Patricia Prime, Stylus Poetry Journal

Read the full review.