John Gohorry was born Donald Smith in Coventry in 1943. He came to North Herts in 1971, and lectured in English, Communications, and Business and Management Studies at what is now North Hertfordshire College until retirement in 2006, spending the last seven years delivering Teacher Training. He has been a member of local poetry group poetry id since then, and poet in residence at David’s Bookshop since 2007.
The Age of Saturn, his eighth collection, is published by Shoestring Press (2015), which also published previous collections including Imagining Magdeburg (2008), Samuel Johnson’s Amber (2010) and the long poem A Manager’s Dog (2011).
John Gohorry writes:-
“It’s a decent sized book (245 pages) containing a variety of single poems, themed groups, and sequences, some published previously in pamphlet form but most appearing for the first time.
“The title sequence is a group of 34 poems consisting of an imaginary exchange of letters between the Spanish painter Goya and the German poet Hölderlin between 1819 and 1828, the year of Goya’s death. Both men were undergoing crises which were a compound of physical, emotional and psychosocial factors, both were living in relative isolation, and both responded with the full force of the imagination that each had at his disposal. Hölderlin’s engagement, through a series of short poems ostensibly written to please visitors to his room in what later became known as the Hölderlinturm in Tübingen and signed Obediently, Scardanelli, are not generally well known, but the Black Paintings which Goya executed on the walls of the Quinta del Sordo, outside Madrid and are now in the Prado, are justly famous. One of these is a painting of Saturn devouring his son, an act of cannibalism which epitomises Goya’s view of the age of Saturn and of his own time. Hölderlin on the other hand thought of it as a golden age, a time when there was no distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, no need for laws, an idyllic time when the earth gave up its harvest without the need for human labour.
“Other poems in the collection touch, directly or indirectly, on one or other of these conflicting perspectives – a series of poems based on paintings by Jack Vettriano, several biographical sequences, including A Lecturing Life, which I couldn’t have written had I not had one, and a poem in the voice of the explorer Colonel P.H.Fawcett, who disappeared in the Matto Grosso, Brazil, in 1929. There are picture postcard poems from a visit to Lanzarote, translations (and originals too) of some short pastoral idylls by Elina Baseilhac, a French newspaper reporter I met on the Ile de Ré, a group of poems about the materials out of which a city (Coventry) is made, and much more besides.
“It’s a pleasure to be launching the book here in North Herts, and especially so in David’s Bookshop, where Paul Wallace and his staff have been so kind to me over the years.”
Entry to the launch costs £3.00 which is redeemable against the cover price of The Age of Saturn (£14.95) if you buy a copy.