Achill: The Island
Poems by John F. Deane
Paintings by John Behan
A tender and nostalgic depiction of the place he was born and raised, John F. Deane’s Achill: The Island is a beautiful collection of poems elevated tenfold through the vibrant acrylic paintings of accomplished artist John Behan. The verse alternates between warm, melancholic, intense, silly- but regardless the tone, Deane’s descriptive and distinctive voice shines through the pages, illustrated by Behan’s vision.
Deane imbues a personal twist into all the nuances of the island in only 49 pages of poetry. In “Frenzy”, he delights in a lucky catch on a fishing trip with his father. In “Swallow”, Deane ruminates on mortality while marveling at a large bird. “Towland” compares and contrasts the Nativity with a Christmas celebration in a Bunnacurry chapel. Whatever the occasion, Deane strikingly conveys his emotions along with his description of the Achill environment through his verse.
Behan’s paintings are meticulously crafted- simple upon first glance, careful observation will reveal his attention to detail and ability to display emotion through just a few brushstrokes. Beautiful landscapes and delightful collages clash with the somber tones of his depictions of funeral processions. Behan’s illustrations bring the mental images Deane’s poetry creates into reality.
If you can’t ever venture a trip to Achill yourself, Achill: The Island may as well be a close substitute. The portraits Deane paints with his words and the actual portraits Behan paints are an experience in itself. For anyone looking to escape to an island for only a moment, Achill is a short read with great emotional weight.
Praise for Achill: The Island
“Poet and painter – both members of Aosdána who have contributed greatly to the country’s artistic life – have come together to produce ‘Achill: The Island’, a beautifully wrought collection of poetry and imagery.” – Ciara Moynihan, The Mayo News
“There is in both the poems and the paintings a great sense of loneliness, of the isolated individual.. With moving poems, and dark unforgettable images, this is a book for all those who love the western landscapes that have inspired eateries, generations of writers and painters.” – Peter Costello, The Irish Catholic