Day for Night, Richard Deming’s searching new collection of poems, takes its title from the cinematic term for shooting night scenes during the day. With a complex lyricism, these poems often explore the ways that art, in whatever form, creates the possibilities of an address by which we hope to encounter other people even as it reveals the impossibilities of ever truly knowing others or ourselves. Haunting the poems in echoes and allusions is Shakespeare’s Hamlet and that play’s profound meditation on skepticism and the role of art in knowing the self. The poems bring together high and pop culture, hope and loss, loneliness and belonging, melancholy and transcendence. Poems from this collection have appeared in such places as The Nation, The Iowa Review, The Colorado Review, American Letters & Commentary, and elsewhere.
For the poet skeptical of the mind’s own devices, the poem on the page becomes nothing less than the contested ground on which ethics and world, faith and doubt, intimacy and distance, beauty and reason, litany and lethargy, conduct their ongoing struggle. Richard Deming is such a poet, and Day for Night comes as a needed reminder that the lyric poem continues to be a form of thought so lucid in offering back to us our daily confusions that it serves as a kind of practical philosophy, helping us to ask that seemingly easiest of questions which, once asked, riddles our certainty: what does it mean “to be someone”? —Dan Beachy-Quick
Much of this book is a dense, exhilarating ride through phantasmagoria, illuminated by bright, gleaming generalities: “someone in the audience will wonder if that is how we are meant to survive our memories.” How are we to survive not only our memories, but diminishment and nightmare? Many of the gods who preside here are movie makers, from Jacques Tourneur to Takashi Miike. But startlingly, these mysterious and eloquent poems culminate in the long, next-to-last, magnificent poem “Son et Lumière.” Stevens now is the fecund model, as Richard Deming modulates beautifully between four- and five- and even six-line stanzas. This is a tremendously accomplished, fascinating book.
In the poems collected in Day for Night, an intensity of focus pulls from the flux of experience—from film, art, music, poetics, weather and memory—occasions for reverent attention. These temporal grabs allow for the moment, arrested, to expand beyond the mere cinematic and then into marvelous arcs of inquiry, desire and insight. Richard Deming is a master of observed and imagined near reversals: artifice to real, transcendent promise to thwarted sublime, day for night: a poetic chiaroscuro of hope, dread, wonder, love and sorrow. “Still, there’s the moon and those stars.” Mostly: wonder.
–Source: Shearsman Books