Hampstead poet Paul O'Prey inspired by Heath's forgotten river

Paul O’Prey is the poet who wrote the collection Fleet.

Paul O’Prey is the poet who wrote the collection Fleet. - Credit: Paul O’Prey

A Hampstead Heath poet has said north London's “forgotten” river was his muse for his latest collection, Fleet. 

Paul O’Prey said the collection traces the course of the underground River Fleet on its journey to the Thames. The river used to flow openly but centuries of development mean it is now almost entirely subterranean. 

The poet said: “[It is about] connecting with that river, still running under the streets of Highgate and Hampstead, Kentish Town.

“The poems represent the resilience of nature and the spirit of the river.”

Paul reflected on the implications of the “burying and forgetting” of a river. “It’s a metaphor for how we can really abuse nature for short-term gain,” he said.  

“We’re more and more aware of the need to reassess our relationship with the natural world. 

“It’s a call of that river out of darkness to say I’m still here. There’s nothing you can do that will stop me living my course, flowing from the Heath down into the sea.” 

Fleet is out to buy now and is available on Amazon.