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A Watchful Astronomy
A Watchful Astronomy

A Watchful Astronomy


72 Pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $14.99 (US $14.99) (CA $19.99)

Publication Date: January 2018

ISBN 9781781724071

Rights: US, CA, LAM, SAM & CAR

Seren (Jan 2018)

Price: $14.99


Paul Deaton's eagerly awaited debut poetry collection, A Watchful Astronomy, from Seren Books, collects many of the pieces that have appeared in magazines and in an early pamphlet, Black Knight (Eyewear). Deaton's poems are finely attuned and alert to the tensions in relationships, partly attributable to a difficult father figure, 'like a wounded bear', who haunts much of this book. This father arises in various guises: as a vast unfathomable mountain 'Inselberg Father', as an approaching thunderstorm, as a mood: "he mauled us with his gloom". Yet however unsparingly the descriptions, there is also an overall perspective of compassion rather than resentment, an understanding that those who wound others are themselves often wounded in some central way. Nature is also a guiding presence in this collection, and is turned to and acts as one place that can 'hold'. It is often embodied by a wintery landscape, as in 'December' where the 'sun's cranberry coal/ glisters low in the grate' and a tree's upper leaves are like a "thicket of primed spears". We also often find ourselves poised at the edges of a view, either urban or rural, as if always at some precipice of day or night, city or countryside. We are rooted to a dark street or lingering sleepless at a window frame, but always looking up and out in anticipation of understanding or change. This book's totem animal is the 'Owl' flying with a "silk-slow hush" and "…now near and present, as if it landed on my shoulder." The 'Watchful' of the title is emblematic of the tone here and throughout. Moments of unfettered joy, even of exhilaration, as in 'The Coffin Hut' where "We have slept a night/and the whole sky has cartwheeled over us" are the more highly prized for being rare, so unstinting is the author's impulse to cool accuracy, to honest emotion, to realist modes of thought and description.

Author Biography

Paul Deaton was born in London and raised in Wales. He was runner-up in the Arvon International Poetry Competition 2010 and winner of the SaveAs Writers International Poetry Prize 2016. His work appears regularly in The Spectator, is included in York Notes for GCSE study guides and is featured in various magazines and anthologies including PN Review, The London Magazine, ?and The Dark Horse. A novel started on his MLiTT at Glasgow University was recently finished. A keen runner, he has a first degree in psychology, works freelance in publishing and is a counsellor in training in Bristol.