Andover Events Feature Article

Andover’s Poet Laureate on writing’s therapeutic benefits

Alien Poet Laureate: Daniel Hooks
Poet Laureate: Daniel Hooks

Dan Hooks is Andover Radio’s resident poet.  Since joining the radio station in April last year, he has written and broadcast almost 250 bespoke poems.

His poems have been heard on the radio every weekday at 11.40am, on stage at Vigo Park for Andover Armed Forces Day and by half a million people on the Andover Radio ‘215 Project’ video, commemorating the centenary of the end of the Great War.

Dan is keen to encourage other poets to write and join him at the radio station studios to record their creations. Dan tells Love Andover about his experience:

Q: Why did you join the radio station?  

“I believe in the radio station as a vehicle for social change in Andover.

“Andover has a lot of positives in the fact we have some great charities and community groups as well as great musicians and artists. Andover radio can get people to be heard. Musicians, poets, artists, charities, community groups can get their message out there.

“For a long time I have heard all the negative things people have said about Andover as a town. Let’s hear from the people who define this town the way I see it with their positive actions and responses to life’s problems and questions.”

Q: What positive experiences have you had?

“The highlights of working for Andover Radio was getting up on stage at Armed Forces Day and performing my poem ‘Their Strength is a Love That Protects’.

“I believe in peace but I also know the great sacrifices service men and women make and I was honoured to be able to share my poem at that great event.

“For the ‘215 Project’, I worked on the recordings of the poems for this project. I have kept a copy of the soundscape and also my Mum and I painted one of the 215 soldiers who commemorated the deaths of soldiers who lived in Andover.

“This was an awesome project carried out by Andover radio and the art room. It reached more than just the people in Andover and showed what great work we can achieve when the Andover community works together as a whole.”

Q: What do you think you are getting out of working with Andover Radio?

“I am getting to showcase my poetry on a radio station on weekdays that is very special privilege for me. I also get to meet all the great community groups and charities through recording community adverts called the Linkline.

“This has opened up channels of communication with people and through networking it will lead to me having more opportunities and projects.”

Dan says he would like to get people writing poetry who have never done it before and “get them really into it”.

“I would like to facilitate a poetry show maybe on the radio or podcast what the poetry group is doing and get more poetry, short stories, radio plays, and creative writing on to the radio in a arts hour.”

Dan runs a poetry meeting at the radio station studios every month.  A wide variety of seasoned and new poets have been joining him.

“I am trying to get fellow poets together to share work and spur on ideas. I want to create a poetry movement with people getting into poetry that haven’t considered writing it before.

“Poetry is a really expressive art form and can help you realise things about yourself and the world you have never realised before.

“I believe in its therapeutic qualities for mental health and well-being. The pen they say is mighty than the sword and poetry can also ask questions about the state of society and the world in general and be a tool for change.”

Q: What happens at your poetry days?

“The days are a chance for people to share work they have written in a safe environment. There is also a chance to write new poetry through the use of creative writing prompts.

“There is also a chance to discuss ideas around self publishing getting your work out there and tips on performing poetry at spoken word events or open mics. In the next few months we will be looking at how the group moves forward whether we want guest speakers, whether a group anthology of poetry would work and other exciting projects.

“My aim is to get other poets from Andover broadcast on the radio – so watch this space!”

The next Poet’s Day creative meet up is 26th March at 1.30pm until 3.00pm


About the author

David Harber

David Harber is the founder and Managing Director of Love Andover, including the Love Andover Observer newspaper and 95.9FM Andover Radio. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a card carrying member of the Nation Union of Journalists.