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This report is taken from PN Review 264, Volume 48 Number 4, March - April 2022.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
But here, on a rock blanched by it,
The sun prints the shadow of a fern,
Still as a fossil, pointed like an arrowhead:
The mottoed tablet to an aeon.
This swift sketch conveys an intuition of deep history in its image of rock and shadow. Although the stone appears ‘blanched’ by sun, the poet is not treading chalk downlands, with clear trout streams and forested distant views. He is in a yet more ancient landscape and responds to it with strangely reminiscent vigorous turns of phrase, as if he had already imbibed a strong dose of Anglo-Welshness:
The beck strikes down,
Jabbing wittily through narrows.
[...]
Bleached pates of rock, shreds of foam
Dull beside quartz, the sunstone glittering.
At intervals, unscoured rock piles
Keep a laboured quiet like sacked monasteries.
The lines are from ‘Landscape’, one of two sequences (the other, ‘Elegy for the Labouring Poor’) preserved in Jeremy Hooker’s The Cut of the Light – Poems 1965–2005 from his first solo collection, The Elements, published by Christopher Davies in Swansea in 1972. The latter, a ‘Triskel Poets’ pamphlet, was among the earliest I edited following Meic Stephens’ gift of the series to me. Snow on the Mountain, Gillian Clarke’s first, was in the same batch.

Appointed to the English department at UCW Aberystwyth, Hooker came to Wales in 1965. To a young man, chock-full of words, buzzing with creative energy, I fear his posting was less than congenial. In a recent interview in the on-line magazine Wales Arts ...


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