By Myronn Hardy
Princeton University Press – £14.95
Like most art, poetry is obviously subjective to personal taste, provision and persuasion.
As such, to all literary intent and home’n’dry poetic purposes, Radioactive Starlings is, to my mind at least, fundamentally governed by one sensational poem: ‘But I Must Forget;’ while much of the remainder suffer from being far too esoteric (therefore, frustratingly closed) for their own good.
In the words of Khaled Mattawa (author of Tocqueville: Poems), Myronn Hardy ”is a citizen of worlds, including the North Africa where he lives and the America where he was born.”
Hmm, that the twain don’t particularly meet or see eye to eye – Lord knows the deplorable Donald Trump has intrinsically put paid to that – really ought not hold any influential sway amid the reading of these fifty-seven poems. But it somehow does; especially within the sphere of that which is neither North Africa nor America. Admittedly, this may be partially due to me not being especially well versed in the daily happenings and goings on in North Africa.
The US meanwhile, is clearly a different matter altogether – for all the wrong reasons might I add. So when Hardy ends his poem ‘The Inescapable Escape’ with the lines:
Know that kind
of defeat that horrific clarity.
The women begin to sing.
he was either inadvertently psychic, or so acutely up-to-date so far as the direction of where Washington politics were/are heading (especially given the many, many thousands of women who marched in protest of Trump’s wholly unethical administration – if such it can be called – last the weekend), that ”horrific clarity” equates with something of a perverse, yet current-day, malignant mantra.
And when such thinking is invariably placed alongside the aforementioned ‘But I Must Forget,’ there’s a whole lot of unforeseen depth to contend with. Indeed, right from the the very outset:
I must travel to a paradise of ashes,
walk among its hidden trees.- Adonis
Although it’s within the actual body of the text itself, where the many variegated particles of political poetry reins home:
[…]They ascend to smoking
towers but still gaze the piles
of themselves the cinders of civilization.
To be civil means to be at peace.
But peace is processed through its opposite.
The mere fact that Hardy claims peace itself, can genuinely be processed; may lend a glimmer of hope to that of a mighty dangerous, contentious world. That he then goes on to assert that ”peace” can only be processed ”through its opposite,” substantiates said potential for hope; but surely, only by way dialogue and dare I say it, intelligence?
Neither of which the odious Donald Trump for one (leader of the Free World!) is capable of understanding.
Let alone embracing:
rather like said poem’s penultimate line:
like them dead in churches?