Nick Horgan lives in outer suburban north-west London with his wife, and has a full-time job in administration. An enthusiastic reader who didn’t enjoy creative writing at school, he answered an advert in 2010 for new local writing group, and is now co-leader of Pinner Writers Group, and one of the original members. Since joining the group he has developed his writing and performs regularly at Speak Your Mind at West House and other events, and exhibited at the Easter Joy and Justice exhibition in 2017. This is his first collection of poetry and short stories.
is a collection of 19 poems and 4 short stories. From Nick’s introduction to the book:
… underlying everything I write, because it’s part of who I am, is my faith. Sometimes it’s obvious (How Will You Answer My Prayer this Time?), sometimes it’s the unseen foundation (The Earth Turns). My faith underpins my hope for the future and my understanding of my place in the world, because I am reconciled, forgiven and free. I hope every poem has as its foundation: that all life is a gift, to be enjoyed, in relationships, in nature, in creativity and imagination, in communion with our maker; that life is harder for some and we cannot ignore that; that life as we know it does end, and we don’t know quite what happens next, but we will be held to account for the choices we made; and that mankind has a saviour, no matter what. And I acknowledge that whatever measure of talent I have has been given as a free gift. It’s a blessing not a halo. I hope it illuminates and resonates. It won’t achieve that for everyone nor by the same degree. We all bring our own experiences to evaluate what we read and I can only write what I know or can imagine.
For this reason I disagree with competitions where a book or story is crowned the winner. I’m happy for work to be judged against a standard (shortlisting) but beyond that how can one story be “better” than another, except filtered through the experience and expectations of whoever judges. Which is better, To Kill A Mockingbird or Lord of the Rings? It all depends who you ask, by popular consensus they both exceed a standard and that’s enough. I’ve been shortlisted three times and I genuinely accepted that as fulfilling my ambition at the time [no-one’s going to believe that, but I’ve said it now].
What people are saying about Breathing Underwater
Nick Horgan’s crystal-clear and lyrical poems offer portraits of sadness and storytelling, struggles and joy. We get a sense of time passing and the poet’s desire to extract meaning from small moments of everyday life. A pleasing, warm and very readable collection. – David Gauntlett – Professor of Creativity and Design, and Director of Research, Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design, University of Westminster
The writing is incisive, fluent and highly enjoyable to read. The poems explore a range of themes and ideas, including our relationship with nature, with the seasons and the events that we organise around them. It also explores the constraints of reality, versus the freedom of the human imagination.
The poetry is full of vivid and interesting imagery; from the small moments in nature; beautifully captured; to a perspective of our earth within space, pulling us outwards. It is a contemplative collection that takes you through a range of experiences, from the collective gloom and resolve of January, to the playful rhyming on Guy Fawkes Night rituals. – Rebecca Jones – Illustrator and Author of Cat Disco
A Man and his World
Like all good poets, Nick Horgan explores his place in the world and his relationship with it. In The Earth Turns, we sense the wonder of the whole planet, turning on its axis, as individuals respond – a wave of wakening, early with anticipation, or staggering late behind the dawn
The Sun Came Out Today explores the affect that a change in the weather can create, cleverly echoed by human relationships – the sun didn’t show today and neither did you.
Horgan’s work stretches from the metaphysical conversation with his god – How Will You Answer My Prayer This Time? – to the parochial – Louder than the Wind, which takes us from a sense of threat to the reassurance of human connection. In every case, the poet explores with fine imagery his place in the world and his relationship with his surroundings.
For me, the most powerful poem is Asthma. As someone who does not suffer from this debilitating affliction, I found that the imagery in this poem, ranging from straining trains to laughing tyrants to wooden lungs gave me an insight that I had never before had.
All in all, a fine set of poems that, through imagery and imagination, explore some universal themes from a very personal and distinctive perspective. – Phil Lawder – Poet, Performer, Compere of the West House Open Mic Evenings in Pinner
It may be self-evident to call Nick Horgan a poet, but not all who claim that mantle are truly worthy of it. Nick is, and that is his gift to the rest of us. In this collection we are at times faced with an honest and brutal critique of the world in which we find ourselves. Sweeping panoramic verses hover over the social, political and environmental issues that blight the planet. But lest we be quick to judge, Nick is not afraid to make the reader uncomfortable with the truth of our own complicity. Even when he turns to the familiar form of the nursery rhyme, there is no motherese, for he is all too familiar with the history of child verse to convey deep and dark undertones. And yet, buried among these ruins of modernity, Nick is able to point us towards a treasure, a hope which we are to give our all to obtain. Far from being beyond redemption, he paints for us a humanity who, in the words of John Steinbeck, is able to cry out, ‘with all our horrors and our faults, somewhere in us there is a shining.’ So it is, with tenderness and innocence, beauty and wonder, Nick lets us in to witness a more personal world. One where nature isn’t something to be exploited but cherished. A world in which the “Other” becomes a companion, empathy builds hope and home is where I choose it be. – Alan Mann – Writer and Author
Nick’s poems have a world-weariness born of idealism and its consort, disappointment. This sense of discord is resolved only in the quieter moments, when the world meets what may be beyond. The powerful Duality is such a moment, beginning and ending as it does with the fundamental unity of all things. But eager that we don’t ever become complacent, the poem’s middle section returns to the differentiation and alienation so readily found wherever we are.
Responsibility and what it means are a golden thread shining through these poems. What are we to be held accountable for? Father’s Day reminds us the biggest sins may be neglect and carelessness, while Surrendered Judgement offers cowardice and avoidance as the source of wickedness in this world. In other words, the poems show us that it is not what we do but what we do not do that is at the heart of the matter. It is a challenging message.
Meanwhile, “bruised” January just keeps on coming around, carrying echoes of Beckett. In this poem January doesn’t exist as an independent fact but rather a projection of our burnt out expectations that things will ever change – or, as Nick so memorably puts it, “a dying firework, nearly dead, one last exhibition of itself.” But there are intimations here that the fault may lie with our understanding of the world – our rules are fragile, our human systems pointless. This seemingly desolate message hints at a deeply mystical resolution, the opportunity for authentic change. You have to look hard but hope is secreted away in these poems, like the smallest, most precious present under the Christmas tree. – Colin Bray – Service Development Manager, Libraries Unlimited
Nick Horgan’s poetry is both profound and accessible, so it’s as captivating on the fifth read as it was at first. When I first read through this collection I relaxed into the phonetic beauty and potent imagery, and with each subsequent read I discovered a new depth of meaning behind and within each image. For example Louder Than the Wind plunges you into a musical moment sparking all five senses, before the perfect line “later I woke in a pile of friends …” awakens the reader to the significance of a moment, that can only be realized with hindsight.
The collection is varied in style, content and tone, displaying Nick’s creative versatility to evoke so much thought and feeling in just a handful of poems. Take The Salvaged Chair which, in only five lines playfully blends images of different types of desire, animating a seemingly mundane object. Whereas The Earth Turns uses its five stanzas to give a sense of awe at the majesty and magnitude of space, and a feeling of the oneness with humanity for the planet we share. The rich variety and depth of each piece gives a collection that is exciting, thought-provoking and appetising … in that you’ll want to read it over straight away! – Peter Lilly – Poet and Missionary