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This review is taken from PN Review 153, Volume 30 Number 1, September - October 2003.

'COME ON IN... THE SKY IS LOVELY' JOHN F. DEANE, Manhandling the Deity (Carcanet) £8.95

                                 Love
scoured to a sheen till the small
faults appeared
                                         ('Alice Harbour's Bar')

John F. Deane rewrites the litanies of the mass, making the ritual phrase new. The Deity, handled by this man, is everywhere, even in the smallest 'faults' - men's shelters, bird's nests, an eggwoman's yard. He lays them on the line with generous, daring humility and skill. In fact, he lays them on more than one line, drawing his phrases over line and stanza breaks, catching us with hardly a quiver:

            the world's pomp, which blows
away like the wind, or the way vain dreams start

and die
                                         ('Father to Son')

The break contains the speaker's hidden fears.

Some line breaks work less well; his 'Seafarer' is heavy and jolting. Its most successful passage, coming at the start of a section, halfway through a line -'Out of the north/ snow has fallen, frost is binding up the sea' - suggests that alliteration binds up the poem. Lives are palimpsests, running in parallel -'always' equals 'for now':

Always, for now, it is someone else, and some one else's
family suffering grief, in the Mercedes limousine
                                        ('Processional')

In 'Elliptic', the egg-woman's sons migrate to England, the dead migrated/ to eternity'. 'In a Shop Window' presents God's abdication as that of a homeless man. 'Acolyte' shows a priest swallowing a consecrated wafer fallen ...


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