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This review is taken from PN Review 29, Volume 9 Number 3, January - February 1983.

ESSENTIAL MARGINALIA Jeremy Hooker, Poetry of Place (Carcanet) £9.95
Jeremy Hooker, A View from the Source (Carcanet) £3.95

Jeremy Hooker's essays, Poetry of Place, form a reviewed devotion to the idea of community in the recent literature of place and landscape; A View from the Source, his selected poems, explores the feelings that impel such an idea, and that fret it with present-day experience. In defending the life of marginal communities against the 'long shadow' of centralism, he criticizes images of an uprooted way of life. Ronald Johnson, he notes, 'was not obliged to see the place as all grey, as on a pre-colour television screen, or to assume that its local colours must be those of picturesque postcards, for tourist consumption.' Hooker argues that a 'bland centralism' conceals 'great creative differences, as well as grievous social tensions'. Do the differences create tensions? If a marginal community's differences are encouraged will they intensify or alleviate social tensions?

Poetry of Place gives little guidance on such questions, though the phrasing of Hooker's remark above suggests that he is not in favour of aggravation. He does go so far as to say that 'a dominant centre falsifies even its own locations, so that it is equally true of London, for example, that "most of it has never been seen" '. However, what is visible also depends on who is looking; the quotation from Roy Fisher's City recalls for me an occasion when, at a reading, Fisher remarked that the Birmingham landscape of his childhood was now being reused quite differently by young members of its West Indian ...


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