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This review is taken from PN Review 161, Volume 31 Number 3, January - February 2005.

A SPHERE OF ABUNDANCE KEVIN CORCORAN, New and Selected Poems (Shearsman Books) £10.95/$16.95

Kelvin Corcoran's recent work inhabits the imagination as a distinct sphere of abundance, drawn from reality as a celebration of the true scope of the mind. And the instrument of this is a written eloquence which takes in the past of poetry and of the spirit as a freshly lived condition which the self occupies at its most impassioned and most sincere. So it cannot be easy, or singular, though it is full of direct statements, simplicities and particular events. The objective is nothing less than the experienced world, as he said quite early in his career -

The world is all that is the case.
The world is the shrine.

and that second term, of course, shifts into a different gear: the poem is not to enumerate, describe or explain the world, but to pay homage to it, which is done the only way it can be: by the self's direct experience of enhancing or healing conditions which find their voices in true thought and impassioned address, including anger and dismay.

Since the early 1990s Corcoran has built the world of this poetry from the most unlikely seeming materials for a modernist poet, by adopting Greece with its history and mythology as his focus and ultimate home. As he himself quotes: 'I run to some farr countrye / where noe man shall me know.' It is not a separate issue, like a travelogue, but a great expansion of resource ...


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