Probably the strongest pieces in Paul Deaton’s “A Watchful Astronomy” are those that relate to his relationship with his father. Elsewhere there is the occasional crisp image, but overall I get the impression of someone with talent who is still trying to find their voice. Here and there one might feel evidence of trying too hard to be ‘poetic’, and elsewhere – where the text might be a little flat and prosaic – not trying hard enough. I think the tension between the two styles, the imbalance, gives the game away.
I’m not sure the poems about nature and landscape quite work, primarily because, at least to my ear, Deaton hasn’t yet quite found his voice.