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Best of Irish Poetry 2009
Best of Irish Poetry 2010

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JOHN F. DEANE

 

John F Deane

John F. Deane was born on Achill Island in 1943. He founded Poetry Ireland – the National Poetry Society – and The Poetry Ireland Review in 1979. He has published several collections of poetry and some fiction. Deane also won the O’Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poetry, the Marten Toonder Award for Literature and poetry prizes from Italy and Romania. In 2008 he became the President of the European Academy of Poetry. A member of Aosdána, his latest collection of poems is A Little Book of Hours, Carcanet (2008).

 

 

 

 

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Deane reading his prize-winning poem at the 2010 Cork Spring Literary Festival

 

If you experience problems viewing the embedded video, it can be watched on YouTube by clicking on this link.

 

 

Shoemaker

First Prize, 2010 Gregory O'Donoghue Competition

                       

He sat, cross-legged, on a deal table

as if dropped, ready-made, from an old myth;

sat, all hours, all days, lips pursed and fingers

deft and fast, like the poet

 

who would see the world through a needle’s eye,

difficult though penetrable, a shifting, leathery mass

that might be shaped to something

beautiful, and lasting. Like the itinerant Christ

 

walking the ranges of Galilee, nowhere to lay down

his head. When I conjugate

Christ, and longing, what I mean

is the lake behind the cobbler’s house, its waters

 

soothing us constantly across the night;

I mean trees, those summer mornings,

standing high and stilled within their being; on wilder days

the winds make shapes amongst them,

 

ghosts visiting the house, composing

their wind-leaf harmonies: I want to be able to say, again,

Christ. Our taciturn shoemaker

sat, sometimes, outside, half-concentrating,  half-

 

watching people go the road; he was one

in a guild with swallows and the blooming of the haw,

one with the people who went measuring their steps

in to the small chapel to divine their living, who watched

 

snow falling, visible through the stained-glass windows, flakes

that could be birds migrating, butterflies, or spirits

out on spirit escapades. When I write

cobbler, last or nail, or when I scribble

 

wine, or bread, or music, what I am stitching for

is Christ, is how love may yet permeate

the rush of trucks along our motorways, spray

rising against the windscreens, the wipers sighing.

 

©2010 John F. Deane

 

Author Links

John F Deane Home Page

'An Eldering Congregation': poem by Deane in Southword Issue 17

Deane at Carcanet

 

 

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