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Matt Hart’s book-length, serial poem RADIANT ACTION is a wild and desperate call to connection—a daybook, an artist statement, a reading list/record review/punk rock concert, a prayer. It is a demonstration of intimate attention: how we give it and what it gives us. Ultimately, it’s a reminder that the ways we live (and speak and write), warble out beyond us in mysterious, unpredictable ways with love and consequences, unfathomable terror, and empathetic longing. Imagination makes the world. A poem is always its own explanation.

Order RADIANT ACTION for $16.95 (no shipping fee!)
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Radiant Action by Matt Hart

List Price: $16.95
5.5” x 7.5”
164 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0990308294
ISBN-10: 0990308294

And be sure to check out Matt Hart’s RADIANT COMPANION (Monster House Press)!!



‘Radiant Action’ is part reading list, part diary, part record review, part prayer. He throws it all in, rips it up, and starts again. He is not above flowers or the moon or love for his family. Imagine Kenneth Patchen fronting Black Flag: a voice brave with beauty vs. all of the guitars in the world vs. all of the fears of our fathers. [O]ne of the most me-shaking questions ‘Radiant Action’ makes me ask: how can anyone protect anyone from anything? Is there a magic word, a perfect phrase that might magically save us all from the slaughter? Matt Hart is the poet who taught me that, when in doubt, ask a question. Don’t trust answers. Answers are dead ends. A poem is all possibility, and Matt’s is a mouth that takes it all in. Matt has the guts to do whatever-the-what he wants.

—Ben Kopel, author of VICTORY!


In [Radiant Action’s] long, loping stanzas, we get Black Cats and TNT, pink polka dots, Dante’s Inferno, Slayer, cherries and asparagus. The inclusion of such a disparate range of material seems illustrative of an organizing idea: “Leave out nothing.” To be sure, these pieces give an effect of an unmediated experience of the world in its messiness and beauty and anger and delight and confusion. Matt Hart scans the landscape and takes everything in, organizing it into one massive soup. But through it all, patterns clearly emerge; everything orbits around the organizing voice, and it’s the voice that cuts through the mess, arranging the noise into “one giant cacophonous euphony / of unity.” 

—Jennifer Moore, author of The Veronica Maneuver



Matt Hart is the author of six books of poems, including Sermons and Lectures Both Blank and Relentless (Typecast Publishing, 2012), Debacle Debacle (H_NGM_N Books, 2013), and Blue Jay Slayer, an art and poetry collaboration with artist Ken Henson (Aurore Press, 2016). Hart’s poems, reviews, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous print and online journals, including The Academy of American Poets online, Big Bell, Cincinnati Review, Coldfront, Columbia Poetry Review, H_NGM_N, Harvard Review, Jam Tarts Magazine, jubilat, Kenyon Review online, Lungfull!, and POETRY, among others. His awards include a Pushcart Prize, a 2013 individual artist grant from The Shifting Foundation, and fellowships from both the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. A co-founder and the editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety, he lives in Cincinnati where he is Associate Professor in Creative Writing and the Chair of Liberal Arts at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He plays guitar and shouts in the bands TRAVEL and THE LOUDEST SOUNDER.

Visit Matt’s author page at H_NGM_N Books >>


Reviews of RADIANT ACTION >>

> at Minotaur’s Spotlight

> interview @ The Brooklyn Rail


IN THE BEGINNING >> Matt Hart on Radiant Action 

Listen to Matt read the opening to Radiant Action.

The first section of Radiant Action was written in the spring of 2013 and was delivered as a sort of lecture/declaration/bon voyage to my advanced poetry workshop students at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. I had a particularly amazing group that year, and I wanted to send them off into the heat of the summer with a sermon on some things that were on my mind that I had no idea were on my mind (until I wrote them down). I had no idea when I wrote this first section—which I thought was a stand-alone poem—that it would be the beginning of a nearly four years long meditation on the ways our words and deeds radiate through the world in unpredictable ways, connecting us significantly, if not consequentially.


With that in mind, this first section (and the rest of the poem as it flies) is an artist statement, a prayer, an anthemic punk rock blast off/send off/sing along—a “how to live and what to do” poem—written as much for me as anyone else. I think I’m always trying to figure out what I believe when I write, and I’m also always in some sense addressing the people I love and who (might) love me, but Radiant Action is explicit about this in a sustained, focused, and concentrated way. For me, belief and love aren’t just a backdrop of poetic practice, they are poetic practice—its reason for being, its modus operandi—or as Wittgenstein might put it a poem’s “form of life…” Put another way, new love, new belief, new possibility is what the poem is trying to churn up, create, and be in the world.


The original version of this section—the one I delivered to my students—had a different beginning and a different ending and about fifty more lines. Many of Radiant Action’s sections are “mind barrage” poems—the words make up a hive—a slam dance of grammar—and when I write them I’m nearly in a trance. Much needs re-arranging and re-tooling in the aftermath. Much needs tailoring and pruning to stay alive. The wound needs dressing with a tar to stop the bleeding. The truth is I almost cut this section on several occasions, and there were times when it wasn’t the first section in the poem—when I swapped some later section to the first position as a way of testing whether or not this really was the beginning of a meltdown going up, or merely a meltdown. Obviously, I’ve made my choice—though if Whitman and Wordsworth, both of whom I was reading while writing Radiant Action, are any indication, I could revise this for the rest of my life…and make it worse, no doubt…


The spring comes      I get it

Vast mouths of wonder

Knuckleheaded jumble

Big love


PS Even though I think of Radiant Action as one long poem, because all of its sections are meditations on the same set of problems—the same joys and possibilities and astonishments—I can imagine a reader dipping in and out of it. That’s by design. The poem is fixed and not fixed. The poem is in flight, alive. I hope you’ll dive in to find your own new wreck. I hope you’ll read out loud to the screamo-wild sky.