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Image by Caroline Forbes

Jeremy Hooker

b. 1941


I think of poetry as an art of seeing, an art by which, in my blindness, I learn to see. - Jeremy Hooker, 'At the Edge'

Strawberry Field

Jeremy Hooker

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Section from Arnolds Wood

Jeremy Hooker

Landscape of the Daylight Moon

Jeremy Hooker

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About Jeremy Hooker

Jeremy Hooker (b. 1941) grew up in Warsash near Southampton, and the landscape of this region has remained an important source of inspiration. Many of his poems were written in Wales, where he has lived for long periods of his life. His academic career has taken him to universities in England, the Netherlands and the USA and he is currently Professor of English at the University of Glamorgan. As well as his ten collections of poetry, Hooker is also well-known as a critic and has published selections of writings by Edward Thomas and Richard Jefferies, and studies on David Jones and John Cowper Powys, all of them important to his own creative life. Other critical titles include Writers in a Landscape and Imagining Wales, whilst Welsh Journal records his life in mid-West Wales during the 1970s.

Jeremy Hooker has described his work as "a poetry of place" and this is certainly evident from his Archive recording. However, Hooker's work is never purely descriptive, tussling instead with issues of belonging and the relationship between man and his environment. This interaction is revealed as a complex network of mutual influence: the landscape of the downs seems timeless but the hillock the plover perches on is a burial mound ('Matrix'). Many poems focus on our desire to assign significance to our surroundings, to "lick it into shape" like the Mother bear her cubs in 'That trees are men walking'. From the pre-historic cave painter through to his boyhood self who "tastes words.../from which he will build a world" ('Strawberry Field') the key question seems to be "how to shape a life" ('Arnolds Wood'), but equally his poems ask how a life is shaped. Whilst all this suggests the importance of roots, there are also many images of fluidity and freedom, of water and flight. Connected to this is the haunting recognition that some essential element remains beyond grasping: like the curlew's cry which is "...mine/Not mine" perhaps it's never possible to be fully at home in the world.

These tensions give his poetry a taut resonance. However, whilst his language is finely chiselled, the poems don't conform to traditional structures; their patterns are like the flow of a waterfall "shaping the ways of change" ('That trees are men walking'). His voice, both controlled and fluid, captures this delicately poised music.

His recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 30 August 2005 at the poet's home in South Wales and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Jeremy Hooker's Favourite Poetry Saying:

"One is trying to make a shape out of the very things of which one is oneself made." - David Jones, Preface to The Anathemata 1952

Selected bibliography

Upstate: A North American Journal, Shearsman Books, 2007...

Mapping Golgotha: A Selection of Wilfred Owen's poetry...

Jeremy Hooker Reading from his poems, CD, The Poetry...

Canto Modern Poets: Jeremy Hooker, CD, Canto...

The Cut of the Light, Enitharmon, 2006

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Edward Thomas, The Ship of Swallows (editor), Enitharmon...

Arnold's Wood, Flarestack, 2005

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Jeremy Hooker at the Poetry Café, 2004, CD, private...

Adamah, Enitharmon, 2002

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Prizes

1974 Welsh Arts Council Literature Prize, Soliloquies of a Chalk Giant

Prize website

Links

Recordings

Jeremy Hooker Reading from his poems

1Landscape of the Daylight Moon

2Matrix

3Prospect Of Boldre Church

4Gull On A Post

5<i>From</i> Englishman's Road

6Curlew

7At Ovington

8Steps

9Red King's Dream

10Black on Gold

11A new love poem

12In praise of windmills

13Westerbork

14Bethlehem

15<i>From</i> Earth Song Cycle: Written in clay

16'That trees are men walking'

17<i>From</i> Seven Songs: Cyane

18<i>From</i> Seven Songs: Groundless She Walks

19Not Like Icarus

20For A Woman Who Said She Could Fall In Love With A Boat

21<i>Sections from</i> Arnolds Wood

22Strawberry Field

A tour of the Archive with Julia Copus

I've avoided poems that other writers here have recommended, but which otherwise would certainly have been on my...

Featured Guided Tours


Books & cds by Jeremy Hooker