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Les Arnold

Les Arnold: poet and teacher (by Jeremy Hooker)

Les Arnold, who died last November at the age of forty-nine, was a teacher and a poet. Few will know him as a poet, though it is now possible to do so, with the publication by Taxus Press (Stride Publications) of his selected poems, Joy Riding. Les lived and taught in Canada in the late Sixties and again from 1970 to 1977, and published poems in Canadian magazines, and some poems in England. It is possible only now, however, to discover what is distinctively English about his poems, and how much he learnt from American writers. Why didn’t he publish more in England during his lifetime? Isolation, I think; distance from prevailing poetic fashions in England, together with the fact that he was totally incapable of promoting himself.

Les and I taught together at Bath College of Higher Education, where he was Head of English and Creative Studies. When I joined him at the College in 1988, I felt I had found the place I had been looking for in twenty-five years of teaching in higher education – a place in which academic and creative values were not mutually antagonistic, but worked together, and complemented each other. That was due largely to Les, to his openness and enthusiasm, to the energy with which he implemented his ideals. I knew he was a great teacher the first time I saw him with a class, and saw
how easy he was, how alive with ideas, and how he …

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