How God Ends Us

How God Ends Us

How God Ends Us

How God Ends Us

Synopsis

DéLana R. A. Dameron searches for answers to spiritual quandaries in her first collection of poems, How God Ends Us, selected by Elizabeth Alexander as the fourth annual winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize. Dameron&'s poetry forms a lyrical conversation with an ominous and omnipotent deity, one who controls all matters of the living earth, including death and destruction. The poet&'s acknowledgement of the breadth of this power under divine jurisdiction moves her by turns to anger, grief, celebration, and even joy. From personal to collective to imagined histories, Dameron&'s poems explore essential, perennial questions emblemized by natural disasters, family struggles, racism, and the experiences of travel abroad. Though she reaches for conclusions that cannot be unveiled, her investigations exhibit the creative act of poetry as a source of consolation and resolution.

Excerpt

DéLana Dameron’s fine book How God Ends Us makes unfamiliar poetic music. I chose this manuscript as the first-prize winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize from among many fine gatherings of poems. What distinguished it at first was the rich mystery of the speaking voice. Dameron listens to her own strange music and plays it. That is what her craft serves, and that is what her artistic courage enables:

Inside the tender part—the stomach of a lie—
are other kept silences. How You twirl
Your fiery tongue. Your words are smoke.
But, how You’ll end us,
summon spirits from inhabitable spaces
to whisper the beginnings of disaster.

(from “Lament”)

For it is courageous indeed to be able to present the personae that Dameron does: speakers who are concerned with listening and seeing, observing, and self-scrutinizing. Her speakers are ruthless with the poem-making self but filled with compassion for the world they encounter. “Inheritance,” a poem worth quoting in full, reveals this quality:

Frequented in dreams
by fresh-dead loves, so I have seen
with these eyes the eyes of a spirit . . .

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