Sound and vision blog

Sound and moving images from the British Library

21 August 2023

Recording of the week: A poem by Jack Carey (1923-2001)

Black and white picture of Jack Carey

Above: Jack Carey in 1957. Photo copyright © Neil Hornick

Jack Carey was an English teacher and poet. His poetry was first published in 1958, in The London Magazine.

Further poems were published in a range of journals and anthologies over the years, and his collection Words and Mirrors (1976) garnered praise from peers such as Peter Porter, Fleur Adcock and Tom Paulin.

The posthumous collection Aftermath (2009) was edited by Neil Hornick.

Neil Hornick is perhaps best known as a pioneer of fringe and experimental theatre. You can read a short biography on the Unfinished Histories web site. I’m pleased to say that the Neil Hornick archive was acquired by the Library in 2022.

Jack Carey was Neil’s English Literature teacher at Christ’s College, Finchley, circa 1956-57, and also directed him in a couple of school plays. Neil and a fellow pupil were to keep in touch with Jack and his wife Yvonne for years afterwards.

The following recording comes from a tape donated to the Library by Neil in 2006.

The poem ‘Dichotomy’ was first published in The London Magazine, Vol. 7 No. 12, December 1960. The recording most probably dates from the mid- to late-1960s.

Neil notes that, ‘the influence of T. S. Eliot, apparent in some of Jack’s early poetry, is confirmed here by the faintly weary, desiccated and incantatory style of delivery’.

Listen to Jack Carey read 'Dichotomy'

Download Jack Carey transcript

For more Jack Carey recordings please visit Jack’s page on the British Library Sounds website.

Today’s selection comes from Steve Cleary, Lead Curator, Drama and Literature Recordings.