TIN CUP by Jude Deason


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Deason’s brevity and staccato lineation make her debut book of poems a very attractive read. 

The poet’s words function like anchors—carefully chosen and weighty. A piece of sky, a public glance, or a wafting breeze can inflect an entire scene. The book falls into two halves—the first part focused on childhood, and the second concerned with adult passions. Several poems celebrate rural New Mexico.  A wise, gruff Great Aunt Mona appears a few times as a reminder of how even the harder aspects of life—the smell of manure on the crops, the slop bucket “alive / at the cellar door”—can make permanent claim on one’s identity. The subject matter travels with the poet on her life’s journey. An early poem about riding the subway shows the dislocation caused by being out of one’s rightful place: “Across the aisle, a man thunders / backwards. I face my future / looking out at the dingy-rag sky / grieving in all directions.” Mourning together, the sky and the speaker burst beyond limitations. A few final poems include grandchildren and the usual delights of their company: wet, exuberant kisses and locomotive energy. Many lines break with a quiet cracking, as the syntax is arranged so carefully. What will pull listeners in closest, however, are the re-created moments that open out into expansive, nearly overwhelming feeling, in which poetic restraint achieves real intensity. A flashback to May Day 1954, for example, shows readers the special purity of girlhood. After hanging a May basket, the second-grade self waits for it to be found: “I feel the warmth, the blush / in the cherry blossom, the ripe / fruit coming, the flutter / in the red tulip / of loving her / like that.” This same voice knows that time passing is part of the poet’s burden; at the end of “Easter,” three lines convey the rapture of irrevocable loss: “Each moment / is so incredibly / gone.”

Tight, competent poetry that precisely presents senses of place and self.

Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2015