Give Dust a Tongue: A Faith
and Poetry Memoir
to be published on 28 February 2015 by
Columba Press, Dublin
A memoir that views the spiritual developments of an
internationally acclaimed poet, from the strict Roman Catholic
of his upbringing on Achill Island, through years spent in a
Spiritan seminary studying for the priesthood, a marriage and
the death of a young wife, through the establishment of Poetry
Ireland, the National Poetry Society, and the development of his
own poetic career, the study of such faith poets as George
Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins, to his present faith in
Christ as the centre of hope and evolution.

The book uses many of Deane’s best and best-loved poems to
help chart this development and works towards the origins and
completion of a sequence of poems that face directly the
question Christ asked: Who do you say that I am? Deane’s
answer is in a sequence of poems, published here for the first
time, “According to Lydia”. The route to a contemporary
Christian faith takes in memories of his time on Achill Island, in
the novitiate in Tipperary and the seminary in Kimmage, Dublin,
as well as his encounter with the work of Teilhard de Chardin,
priest and anthropologist, and the poetry of the Nobel prize-
winning Swedish writer, Tomas Tranströmer. Through his
founding of Poetry Ireland he met and became a friend of the
late Denise Levertov, poet and convert to Christianity.

The work also examines the continuation of faith after the
death of Deane’s brother, Declan, who had become a Jesuit
and died in Pleasant Hill in California. Several of the pieces
included here were first heard as Sunday Miscellany pieces on
RTÉ radio, and published in such journals as The Furrow and
Irish Pages. The whole offers one person’s pursuit of faith
through a personal response to the name and nature of Jesus
Christ, a faith that would be possible, even essential, in this age
of un-faith and economic determinacy.