July 2016 | Nate Pedersen

Poet Geoffrey Hill Dies at 84

ghmercianhymns.jpgPoet Geoffrey Hill, often lauded as "one of the greatest English poets," died on June 30, aged 84.

Hill's career launched in 1971 with the collection Mercian Hymns, which combined poetry about King Offa, the 8th century Mercian king, with poems about Hill's own childhood in the Midlands. Hill would go on to publish over a dozen more collections. His last published collection, Broken Hierarchies, came out in 2013, contained poetry from 60 years of Hill's writing, and was described by the Times Literary Supplement as a "work of the first importance."

Most recently, Hill held the coveted professor of poetry position at Oxford University from 2010 to 2015. Hill also taught poetry at Boston University for 18 years and was an honorary fellow at Cambridge University.

Hill was widely lauded by critics and won many awards throughout his long career, although praise over his poetry was sometimes laced with critiques that his poems were inaccessible or difficult to understand.  Hill addressed this criticism in a fascinating 2002 interview with The Guardian:

"In my view, difficult poetry is the most democratic, because you are doing your audience the honour of supposing that they are intelligent human beings. So much of the populist poetry of today treats people as if they were fools. And that particular aspect, and the aspect of the forgetting of a tradition, go together."