Born in London’s East End, Harper first realised the power of words when he discovered TS Eliot, and was gripped for good on hearing Bob Dylan. After studying creative writing at various colleges, and with great encouragement from tutors, poetry became a flourishing area of creativity for him. He lives with his wife in Eltham, South London.
Artistic inspiration is elusive. Yet, confronted with an exhibition of artistic works, you see it staring back at you as interpreted by another person. Harper’s poems are often ekphrastic musings on visual art, sculpture and space: he crafts his own works as a response. An urbane traveller, he also finds inspiration in the small details of life abroad: losing himself and re-appearing in another situation with fresh eyes. Harper’s elegant poems take a sideways look at the familiar view, with an ear for language – speech is important for nuance, in conversations one never expected.
Harper’s poems have a concentrated density and work the language to its sonic detonation point. Romantically lush or compactly muscular, the diction is balanced against a coolly passionate eye, as he considers what art can make of and in our contemporary world. MERYL PUGH