The Most Beautiful World is somewhat of a conundrum at first look. I spent a long time trying to penetrate the surface of this latest book of poetry by Rodney Hall. I had just been reading his exciting, original, and well-sustained novel Just Relations, I guess I was looking for the same excitement here. It didn’t arrive on schedule.
The book is made up of office ‘suites’ – which they are not – each composed of seven fictions, actually prose poems, plus a ‘sermon’, to title them so, and to intend them as such is daring in today’s climate.
The fictions present striking and largely unrelated situations, though some are dreamlike and rather banal. The sermons are long-lined poems, irregular, deliberate, resounding expositions of our crimes against the world and each other. Strange stuff after the lively play of the novel/novels he must have been writing concurrently with this book of poetry. Had the comic, poetic and imaginative energy gone into his prose rather than into these poems?