Gohorry, John

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Nationality: British. Born: Don Smith, 1943. Address: 17 Bedford Road, Letchworth, Hertfordshire SG6 4D1, England.



A Galanty Show: Poems. Letchworth, Fearnhill School Press, 1979.

A Voyage Round the Moon. Liskeard, Harry Chambers/Peterloo Poets, 1985.

Talk into the Evening. Calstock, Cornwall, Peterloo Poets, 1992.


Critical Study: By Roger Garfitt, in Poetry Review, 84(2), summer 1994.

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Reading John Gohorry's poetry gives one the picture of a man who either seizes on ideas or who is seized by them. He is a man who delights in the exploration and amplification of ideas and who is erudite, puzzling, and probing but never dull.

Gohorry often pursues his ideas obliquely. For example, the moon landings must have excited the imagination of many people. But to Gohorry it was not the Eagle landing itself, when Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, "inflatable Michelin men in their fat suits," performed before the cameras, that fired his imagination, but rather Michael Collins circling the moon in the command module Columbus waiting to pick the men up to take them home. It was Collins as the ultimate taxi man, who spent half his time cut off from light and any form of communication, that exercised Gohorry's wonder:

       Only he, circling her
   immense black back in the star silence, knows
   the true meaning of loneliness.

The art of Gohorry is to make his reader enter the situation too, to share his wonder. It is his probing imagination that seizes ours so that we share the experience of the lovers in the garden on "The Coast of Bohemia" or can imagine Sherlock Holmes interviewing five cloned Dr. Watsons, "men of identical build, age and character." And Gohorry can also engage our imagination in simple everyday experiences, as he does in "Coming Home":

   Coming back to the empty house,
   we do not ask what it has done.

But we are prompted to probe this idea for ourselves.

There also can be a delicious sensuality in Gohorry's work, as in "Yogis," in which a woman finds herself "in a tangle of knotted limbs she cannot free":

   She is rescued by the man from the flat below
   who walked up the stairs to her, naked, on two
   hands made sudden and explosive love, and then
   afterwards brought her the peace only true love

And in "Touching" we are shown two girls:

   Sixteen is an age of experiment, and there is
   something not quite innocent of the equality of

Yet for the common reader Gohorry can perhaps sometimes go a step too far in his imaginative excursions. The remarkable longish poem, written in "authentic Chaucerian style," in which Gohorry imagines a letter written by Lewis Chaucer to his father Geoffrey, or the long poem exploring the Leviathan of the seventeenth-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes could leave us far behind. But the attempt to keep up can be rewarding and is worth the effort. And when Gohorry engages us directly, we are left intrigued by the sheer enjoyment of his imaginative excursions and the way in which his quite esoteric images are sometimes brought close for us to enjoy. As George Szirtes has said, "Gohorry ought to be much better known than he is."

John Cotton

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Gohorry, John

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