Angels and Other Disturbances


Running Out, David Hart
[272pp, 10.50, Five Seasons Press]


Throughout this challenging collection light, voices, disturbances, saints and angels sprawl, and in hidden places we suddenly come across darkness and shattering, broken beings.

In previous collections we have come to associate Hart's writing with a large cast of people, many living on the edge, language that often bends and breaks up, energy and an often lyrical strangeness. The reader is often left uncertain about just what is going on and there is something very appealing about this nervous narrative.

In Running Out there is a considerable amount of public writing, for festivals and residencies, and work for radio. There are several long sequences and lengthy transcriptions. I think that some readers may regret that so much had gone into one book, particularly the transcriptions, and the way that from time to time the presense of the poet at work gets in the way. The  power of so many individual poems throughout the collection, the way they bounce off the page, the windfalls of meaning and racing images, the stabs of sadness are so rich and valuable that some of the sequences come across on the page as somewhat journalistic.

The opening sequence of 32 parts, 'All Saints Elegies', a response to Rilke, is no exception. Later in the collection, a sequence resulting from a week in Poland avoids thinking things through quite so much, mainly because of the horror of the subject matter. The evidence of horror is enough. A shorter sequence, about horpeness, accompanied by photographs, is a much finer achievement.

Each time I work my way into this book I delight in the shorter poems,their tang and energy and very much their detail; 'We came then', 'The gully hermits', 'Of course when they say', 'The stiltwalkers', 'Ah'.

This poem resulted from a reading be Tadeusz Rozewitz at the University of Warwick held in May 2001:

     At the opening words of the poem
     a woman in the audience raises her hand
     half way,turns it slightly,
     leaves it there.

     There are more words,her head
     is to one side,
     she lowers her arm.

     There are more words,her arm seems to
     shiver by itself.
     She smiles.

     There are more words,
     she opens her hands.

Finally, a very specific comment on the production of the book that contains on page 272 a polemic on paper specification. It is wonderful indeed to see and hold and read from such a beautifully created book. So much attention to detail and feel so that the eye and mind work together.

I have no doubt that I will read this collection over and over and find new things in it. David Hart has an extraordinary sensitivity and when he lets the poem fly out and out it can be a wonder.

             David Grubb 2007