by Lois Roma-Deeley
Publisher: Singularity Press
Year of Publication: 2006
Format: cloth cover
Page Count: 90
Reading Group Guide
Also Available from Lois Roma-Deeley: Rules of Hunger
Brief Description of NorthSight:
Lois Roma-Deeley's powerful poems are as "tough and brave" as they are "brilliant,"
"beautiful" and, finally, "soul-satisfying." The mystic journey into the dangerous world
of Lois Roma-Deeley's second collection of poems, NorthSight, takes us through the caverns of "the hunted and the hunting heart."
Our traveling companions on this road make a "vital chorus" of those who suffer—or those who make others suffer. Those who survive with dignity and those who—with great astonishment—disappear into their own despair. On this journey we meet
both Beast and Angel: rapists, waitresses, prostitutes, war heroes, tattoo girls, Italian immigrants, dope dealers, day laborers, monks, bikers, and firemen as well as the uncommitted, the confused and the slightly insane.
As if the earth underneath our feet will split open at any given moment, these poems fight to keep their fierce balance between the world as we know it and the world as it should be.
This is a book that dares us to hope.
Praise for Lois Roma-Deeley's NorthSight:
I remember as a child, watching my great grandmother make a passage from the sofa to a chair. It was a hard landing. Yet, she composed herself and smiled. I looked around me and knew that only I had recognized a real heroism. After this, firemen did not impress me.
I’d forgotten all this until reading tonight these new, brilliant poems by Lois Roma-Deeley. These poems are tough, brave, but also hold an almost physical balance against human suffering.
NorthSight is above all a book of lives. Of the poet's own life, but not only that. Of women's lives, but not only that. Of human lives, but not only that. Time and history, the transcendental, even a bead of sweat are given their voice in Lois Roma-Deeley's vital chorus, whose song is of hard-won resurrection and the unlikely survival of hope.
From Midwest Book Review
NorthSight showcases the ultimately hopeful poetry of Lois Roma-Deeley who draws upon the imagery of war heroes and tattoo girls, day laborers and monks, rapists and prostitutes, Italian immigrants and waitresses, bikers and firemen, the uncommitted, the confused, and the slightly insane, to craft memory haunting verse of a dangerous and sometimes mystical world. War Widow: "She's crying. All night she prays God give me a sign. / Is he alive? Somewhere on a desert island? / Eating coconuts? Drinking palm wine? / She touches her stomach. Eight months ago / they were dancing in Kansas, / the USO banner sagging underneath the heat / of their kisses. The trumpets playing: Begin the Beguine."
From The Comstock Review—Book Reviews
** Two fine collections, Rules of Hunger (Star Cloud Press, 2003) and NorthSight (Singularity Press, 2006), have come from the pen of poet Lois Roma-Deeley. The common themes of both books are lives lived in time and history, stories of family, rich in its Sicilian traditions. To quote poet Jane Hirshfield: "Time and history, the transcendental, even a bead of sweat, are given their voice in Lois Roma-Deeley’s vital chorus, whose song is of hard-won resurrection and the unlikely survival of hope." www.StarCloudPress.com to order either book.
From Barbara Crooker's review in The Pedestal Magazine
These are indeed words for our time, words to travel by. Throw away the charts, the road maps. Things are growing dark, and we can no longer count on faith, or the stars, to guide us. Still, there is hope at the end of the road. Yes, there is suffering, but these are survivors, and just as the monk in "This" "sees the blood on the stone / floor, a star burst he can copy, / something he can use" so does Lois Roma-Deeley, who takes these stories into her body, and makes art out of them.
The 2005 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards
Passaic County Community College
2005 Paumanok Poetry Awards
Farmingdale State University
Third Prize, Emily Dickinson Poetry Award—Universities West Press, 2004
"Bougainvillaea and TV" (poem included in NorthSight)
This poet makes such achingly effective use of the plainstyle, which fits the ethical dilemma of the speaker (who is truly a speaker for us all, "useless human beings"). How helpless the speaker feels in the face of the war, yet has "done nothing," "watches TV," is concerned for creature comforts, "sips Temple of Heaven Tea," uses a heating pad. The tensions in the poem culminate in the dreadfully sad yet brilliant epistemology at the end. First is the tension between the illusion of information, provided by TV, and the speaker's professed lack of knowledge: the city, Baghdad, "the name of which I remember only from childhood." Then there is the tension between the childhood of the speaker and the dead child. The child on Long Island is playing a game of pretend, perhaps hide and seek, perhaps a war drama. It doesn't matter; we are inside the consciousness that imagines both that it is nice to be warm and "pull the covers over one's feet" and the terror and discomfort of "a prisoner of war." We are inside a child's consciousness at the same time we observe a dead child in the dirt. We can't put together how "the rain brings the Bougainvillaea / into sharp focus" while the pundit on TV "moves her lips." Through the speaker's pronouncement "Now I know I will never understand a thing," we confront our culpability, uselessness, and, perhaps, our responsibility.
—Judge: Aliki Barnstone
About the Author:
Lois Roma-Deeley's first full-length poetry collection, Rules of Hunger (Star Cloud Press), earned her a National Book Award nomination. She is a 2004 Emily Dickinson Poetry Award Competition winner (Universities West Press), third place, as well as the 2005 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards Competition (Passaic Community College) winner, third place and Editor's Choice. In addition, she was a Finalist for the international Paumanok Poetry Contest (Visiting Writers Program at Farmingdale State University). Further, her poetry earned her an Arizona Governor's Arts Awards nomination, a Pushcart nomination as well as two Arizona Library Association Author Award nominations. She has been published in six national anthologies, including the American Book Award winner Looking for Home (Milkweed Editions). Roma-Deeley's poetry is published in various literary journals nationwide, including Water~Stone, Iris, Faultine, Italian Americana, Columbia Poetry Review, Controlled Burn, Sow's Ear (competition finalist), Confluence, The Comstock Review, Paterson Review and many others. She has also published poetry reviews in several literary journals. In 2004, she was one of four featured poets at the Chicago Humanities Festival (Artistic Dialogue venue) and in 2005 was once again a featured poet in the CHF partner program with ARC Gallery and Educational Foundation. She has received fellowship residencies from the Ragdale Foundation in Chicago, Illinois. Roma-Deeley has taught poetry workshops at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Currently, she is Poet-in-Residence at Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. She received her Ph.D. from the Union Institute and University and an MFA from Arizona State University. NorthSight is her second collection of poetry. Roma-Deeley has given many poetry readings and presented numerous creative writing workshops throughout the country.