Shimmering Horizons (extracts)

I am most grateful to Bennison Books for publishing this new poetry collection: Shimmering Horizons – seventy poems in seven sections with the theme of the journey, the quest, the odyssey.

The book itself takes the form of such a journey. It begins with a quest, closes with a homecoming. In between are poems about historic journeys and others about the metaphorical journey of life. And there are additional, short, poems as signposts and milestones along the way.

Published in August 2021 (£3.99 or $4.99 through Amazon – a search for John Looker will find it) I’m posting a selection of the poems here as a taster.

And there are reviews (unsolicited) on Amazon at

Part I: The Galahad Call

We set out with a quest. The seven poems of Part I, The Galahad Call, portray a 21st century search for meaning and purpose, modelled on medieval stories such as the legendary quest for the holy grail. Here is the opening poem in that series:

Other poems in Part I explore sensations and emotions along the way, culminating in a poem called The Gift.

The Point of Departure was first published in Poetry Salzburg Review in 2019.

Part II: Songs of Early Life

The second poem in this selection is ‘Newborn’ – the opening poem from Part II, Songs of Early Life: ten poems exploring childhood from birth through to coming of age. Here it is:

That was previously published in the Indra’s Net anthology (2017) and my own Poems for my Family (2018).

Part III: Into That Silent Sea

The third poem in this selection is taken from Part III, Into That Silent Sea, a suite of ten poems about historic or legendary journeys:

The ten poems in Part III are tributes to historical travellers from many parts of the world. We also see India’s Nobel Prize author Rabindranath Tagore as a child dreaming of travel, the great Polynesian voyagers in mid-passage on the Pacific out of sight of land, and the poignant death of Native American Pocahontas in London. Others include Marco Polo, the Chinese admiral Zheng He, Ibn Battuta and the medieval West African emperor Mansa Musa returning to Timbuktu from an epoch-making expedition.

First Landfall in Nova Scotia was first published in the Austin International Poetry Festival’s 25th anniversary anthology, 2017.

Part IV: Songs of Midlife

As the name suggests, Part IV contains poems about different aspects of adulthood: work, love, family and friendship.

Here is one :

Part V: The Great and Little Endeavour

Part V is a suite of poems in homage to the crew of The Endeavour whose great voyage around the world, in their ship The Endeavour, discovered New Zealand and the coast of Australia. They draw on the journals of James Cook, the Captain, and Joseph Banks the naturalist. It was an archetypal adventure.

The following extract celebrates their perilous passage around Cape Horn into the Pacific – or, if you prefer, the universal and timeless courage of the human spirit as it ventures into the unknown.

The full poem has a further stanza.

Part VI: Songs of Later Life

Following the theme of Parts II and IV, Part VI offers a suite of poems about various aspects of old age, from retirement to the approach of death. Each depicts a scene in a different location, chosen for its symbolism.

They vary in mood. This one is perhaps somewhat reflective and sombre:

The form of this poem is not all that it seems: set out visually to recall the rectangular Place or Square, underneath it is a Renaissance structure: a Petrarchan sonnet rearranged. Check out the internal rhymes and the iambic pentameter.

Part VII: The Return of Odyssea

The book closes with a coming-home story: eight highlights from Homer’s Odyssey given a 21st century update.

Because the book opens with the quest of a young man in The Galahad Call, this closing suite of poems features a woman: Odyssea in place of Homer’s male hero. It’s a complementarity to remind us that neither the quest nor the odyssey belong to only one gender.

Taking some cues from Homer, here’s the last poem:

And that rounds off the final section of the book … except for a short poem which acts as a signpost pointing back along the route.

If you have read this far, I hope that you have enjoyed the sample.

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