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

Poems by Jeremy Hooker

Landscape of the Daylight Moon - Jeremy Hooker
Curlew - Jeremy Hooker
Section from Arnolds Wood - Jeremy Hooker
Strawberry Field - Jeremy Hooker
Jeremy Hooker in the Poetry Store

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Awards

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

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