‘Art of seeing’, as Jeremy Hooker exercises it in these essays written over some thirty years, consists of acts of attention to a range of poets and visual artists. Aiming above all to be ‘a careful, attentive, reader’, Hooker seeks to illuminate subjects that have been neglected or undervalued relative to mainstream fashions, such as the poetry of David Jones, George Oppen and Christopher Middleton, Welsh women poets, and neo-romantic painters such as Winifred Nicholson. His guiding principle, in the words of Coleridge, is to awaken ‘the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom’. Landscape recurs as a theme of poets and artists with a passion for ‘localism, clarity and care for particulars’. While Hooker’s aim as a critic is to explore his subjects’ art and their visions of reality, Art of Seeing, which also contains reflections on his own poetry, constitutes ‘a chapter of aesthetic and spiritual autobiography’.
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