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This review is taken from PN Review 222, Volume 41 Number 4, March - April 2015.

Only Connect jeremy hooker, Openings: A European Journal (Shearsman) £13.95

Against the uncomfortable backdrop of Thatcherism, Jeremy Hooker’s journal charts his increasingly peripatetic life from 1983 through to 1988. Hooker (born in 1941) is an English poet, essayist and teacher whose primary literary influences take root in Richard Jeffries, Hardy, Edward Thomas, William Carlos Williams, George Oppen and David Jones. However, clearly of a greater importance than any textual lineage is Hooker’s continual exploration of his poetics in relation to place and faith. Born in Warsash (a village in Hampshire) and with an ongoing affinity with the south, a source of simultaneous love and vexation throughout this book, Hooker went on to teach at the University of Aberystwyth, after which, through meeting Mieke (who was to become his second wife) he lived in the Netherlands. Consequently the journal shuttles between Groningen in the Netherlands, Winchester, Aberystwyth and a period of memorable travelling experiences through Israel and Palestine. In its diary entry format, just shy of three hundred pages, there is far more to contemplate, reflect on and enjoy than this brief review can hope to convey. Perhaps my overriding impression was of Hooker’s innately gentle and meditative nature; the anxieties, disappointments and doubt that can so generously attend a life in poetry are always mediated through a patient appreciation of his own Christian humanism, and, in turn, how that faith might be understood and communicated. It is by no means an evangelical or exhaustively vocal position, but an underlying relationship that, bit by bit, reveals a presiding orientation through which matters of belonging, place and human ...


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