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"Secret truths": the poetry of Kevin Hart
journal contributionposted on 1995-06-01, 00:00 authored by David MccooeyDavid Mccooey
The publication of Kevin Hart's New and Selected Poems (Angus and Robertson, 1995) is a significant event, allowing a consideration of the various continuities and discontinuities of Hart's style. The collection shows clearly how Hart's characteristic bank of images was formed early. These images Gary Catalano lists as "stones, hands, shadows, sunlight, water, mirrors, horizons, moons and clocks", suggesting the dialectic between the physical and the metaphysical which other early critics of Hart recognized. In addition, the new collection places the "difficult" Peniel, Hart's fourth collection, into something of a context. The explicit formalism of Peniel, the blank verse and the triadic structure (nine stanzas of three lines, three sections made up of nine poems), can be seen as a not-too-obscure religious reference, related to Hart's interest in negative theology and his increasing reputation as a "religious" poet. From another point of view, however, the formalism represents something of a literary joke: that despite the poems' formal unity, they are "incorrigibly plural", to use MacNeice's words. This dialectic between plurality and unity is central to an understanding of Hart's "development".