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This article is taken from PN Review 214, Volume 40 Number 2, November - December 2013.

A Millennial Decade: John F. Deane's Snow Falling on Chestnut Hill Thomas Dillon Redshaw
In the decade since his first collection from Carcanet, Toccata and Fugue (2000), John F. Deane has offered up at almost three-year intervals four generous collections: Manhandling the Deity (2003), The Instruments of Art (2005), A Little Book of Hours (2008), and Eye of the Hare (2011). Each volume amplifies and deepens, probes and plays on the themes and mysteries that Deane's readers recognise as by turns democratic and idiosyncratic, social yet ultimately individual -  as immediately political and ultimately religious. Irish readers had the privilege of witnessing Deane come into his characteristic claim on such themes in Christ, with Urban Fox (1997) six years after the summing-up of his early poems in The Stylized City (1991). Like The Stylized City and like Toccata and Fugue a decade later, Snow Falling on Chestnut Hill has a subtitle -  New and Selected Poems. By inviting Deane's readers to reflect back on a decade of sonnets and sequences, that ordinary subtitle invites his readers to reflect on the ever more worldly decade of Irish life that the poet has witnessed and his readers have endured at home. Since 1997, Deane's lyrics and laments have displayed an ever greater, more discomfiting reach of urgency. The poems that his art presents to us insist on their real presence in our increasingly virtual, if not virtuous, world.

Decades of cultural production begin and end, of course, several years after our calendars mark them off. So we should remember that Christ, with Urban Fox marks Deane's hard-won maturity ...


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