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This report is taken from PN Review 106, Volume 22 Number 2, November - December 1995.

Stanley Cook Peter Sansom

Stanley Cook was born in 1922 in Austerfield, South Yorkshire. He won a scholarship which took him from a two-room village school to Doncaster Grammar and from there a further scholarship to Oxford. For most of his life he worked as a school teacher in Yorkshire, and from 1969 to 1981 he lectured in English at Huddersfield Polytechnic. He was married, with a son and two daughters. Though his several pamphlets and two books (from Peterloo, 1972 and Littlewood, 1986) were enthusiastically received in certain quarters, his work was largely unknown at his death in 1991.

In the introduction to the pamphlet, Form Photograph, Stanley Cook wrote:

I hope the steelworker and his wife next door would never need a dictionary to read my poems. I like to feel, too, that I have been as practical and unsentimental with a poem as if I had farmed, smithed or carpentered it - that the rest of the family would think I had done some 'real' work and not let them down.

As these analogies suggest, Cook's family included farmers, blacksmiths and carpenters - whose craft, however skilled, was first and foremost functional, and which Cook respects and tries to do justice to. Cook's poems were appreciated by a literary audience, but that is not where his main concern lay. He wrote often about his relatives and about village life in general with a clarity and honesty that anyone - the people next door - ...

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