Year of the Wasp (2016)

Out now

It is rare and electrifying to read poetry with this much at stake. Wrath and rapture: from the full-bore first poem, Joel Deane here declares that the creatures of myth are let loose in our days and that his poetry will be equal to it. These poems are ‘written in blood ink’: everywhere charged with terror and longing. Written after a stroke, this collection line by line reflects the rage, strangeness and transfigurative power of coming back into language and, by that, into the world again. This is Joel Deane’s masterwork. Wild, bitter, rapturous, it is his ‘Howl’ and ‘Book of Revelations’. Magnificent!
[Deane’s] impressive armoury of genres is used to full effect in Year of the Wasp, especially in the breathtaking opening section. It makes an argument, tells a story, tries to illumine, using all the tools and allusions available ... The book is a kind of proving ground for love, and no reader could doubt that it holds up
This is not poetry ... as some kind of game. It is a powerful intervention in our understanding of human suffering ... Images of animals also recur – crows, sparrows – at times recalling the work of Ted Hughes. In one extraordinary poem, the poet remembers accidentally hitting a fox with his car – itself figured as a kind of beast, ‘purring its soft red clouds of carcinogens’ ... The natural world is transformed into a place of uncanniness or even menace
Year of the Wasp is an intense read ... The last two poems in the book are particularly exquisite, charged by the guilt that precedes them, lightened with the black humour of open source software gods, and concluded with the most tender of couplets. Year of the Wasp manages a perfect balance between the intimate and the political. For its precision, its relevance, and the striking aptness of its metaphors, Year of the Wasp is a tremendously moving collection that deserves close attention
[Deane’s] poems and his delivery were ‘intense man’, with nightmarish, plague ridden images: wasps, a dying fox, a murderous eagle on Alexander Avenue at 3am that made your skin prickle with dread and foreboding. Visceral stuff ... His poetry was compelling like cruelty you can’t look away from. And that’s how he stood; very still, looking straight ahead, unflinching