‘Vertebrae’ launched in North Wales

8 07 2019

On Thursday, at Provideo coffee shop in Llandudno, my first poetry collection was officially launched. The crowd spilled out the door and the start of the reading had to be delayed until everyone was able to find space, but the evening passed with some informal reading, some impromptu piano and some wonderful company.

The book has been received with great praise from significant poets in its first week and 1/2 of the initial print run has now sold within the first five days of becoming available.

Thanks to all who came to the launch or have bought a copy online. Your support has been thrilling.

‘Vertebrae’ is available from The Lonely Crowd website here.

 

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Article on ‘Vertebrae’ launch in North Wales Pioneer by Duncan Rieder

28 06 2019

Screenshot 2019-06-28 at 20.24.36.pngYsgol John Bright teacher Glyn Edwards to launch Vertebrae at Providero in Llandudno

By Duncan Rieder

AN YSGOL John Bright English teacher will take his seat at the table of the literary world with the release of his first poetry collection.

Llandudno poet Glyn Edwards will launch Vertebrae at a Providero Coffee House in Llandudno on Thursday, July 4 at 6pm.

With a poem for each of the 33 vertebrae of the spine, the collection offers insight into the backbone of the poet’s past five year’s work, touching on universal themes such as fatherhood, falling in love, death and more.

The 33 poem collection will launch on Thursday, July 4.

Mr Edwards, originally of Wallasey on the Wirral said: “I used to fear that was a finite amount of seats at the table and a rush to fill them. I have taken my time to choose a chair that feels right.”

“For me, the collection is a balance of poems that genuinely break new ground, and those that simply seek to examine the ground broken by all of us.

“Every person who has read the collection has elected an entirely different poem as their favourite, usually because it has sharpened a memory of a toddler with a winter cold, or it makes reference to a poet they studied in school.

“The poem about a voicemail I found from my grandmother a few days after she’d died seems to be particularly evocative.

“I had felt it was too personally poignant to be of any appeal to others, yet because grief is a universal truth, it has found relevance with many.”

This latest release adds to a successful year for Mr Edwards, whose poem A Single Atom in an Ion Trap was featured in an anthology published by Verve Press, Eighty Four, as well as a stint editing poetry magazine The Lonely Crowd in February.

With his poetry frequently published in a variety of publications, his work has also been included in the inaugural Poetry Jukebox outside the EPIC Museum Dublin – one of only seven in the world. He was also invited to take up a week long residency at the Dylan Thomas boathouse in Laugharne in 2016, with the poem Birthday Walk from that period appearing in the collection.

Mr Edwards added: “For a writer, the need to share work is crucial to the sense of satisfaction – sharing a poem in a well-read magazine is exciting, but sharing years of content with an anonymous audience is both tantalising and terrorising.”

His success has also rubbed off on his pupils, with his Year 13 Laura Satterthwaite’s poem Ecstasy being included in Cheval, an anthology of Welsh Writing, and was the youngest entrant into the nationwide Terry Hetherington Prize.

Mr Edwards work has already earned high praise from Poetry Ireland editor Martina Evans and former Wales Book of the Year winner John Freeman, as well as a blurb from fellow Welsh poet Jonathan Edwards.

The launch is free to enter, with readings featuring some musical accompaniment, and copies of Vertebrae for sale.

 

 

 

Full article: North Wales Pioneer





North Wales launch of ‘Vertebrae’

30 05 2019

July 4th: Providero Coffee House, Llandudno 6-8

Please feel welcome to attend an informal launch of my debut poetry collection, published by The Lonely Press.

There’ll be music and coffee and a reading and a very high chance of a emotionally blackmailed purchase of a signed copy of the book.

See you there!





Books of the Year Recommendations

15 12 2018

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From The Lonely Crowd’s trio of articles on their contributor’s books of the year, here’s my recommended reading material from 2018:

The full article can be read at:

The Lonely Crowd: Books of the Year (part 2)

Unless it really can’t be helped, I prefer to concentrate on one book at a time.  Yet, at one point this summer, I had five books open simultaneously on my bedside table.  I was fortunate to be able to interview Jonathan Edwards, Andrew McMIllan and Christopher Meredith for Lonely Crowd projects and their writing, together with poetry collections by Ocean Vuong and Bernard O’Donoghue, formed my first non-linear reading experiment. In one burst, I’d read compelling story from Meredith’s Seren collection Brief Lives and the dense, lyrical prose would make me question the seeds of bravery in an acts of cowardice; then, I’d gather up Jonathan Edwards’ second collection, Gen, and absorb myself utterly in the sustained warmth of his portraiture: Harry Houdini and Edwards’ granddad in the same scene on Newport Bridge performing different magic tricks.  There was a poem in Bernard O’Donoghue’s The Seasons of Cullen Church‘You Know the Way’ that I read habitually for a fortnight.  The narrative sprang from title into a set of directions centred on familiar global places – New York, London, Dublin – but it was the clever demotic tone – imperative, declarative and interrogative all at once – at that reassured me I could re-visit it and walk those routes ceaselessly.
Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds is the singular, most-impressive collection of verse I have read.  I could eulogise it and investigate it endlessly and would urge all poetry readers to do likewise; however, as it was published in 2016 and the internet is already rich with reviews of Vuong, I’ll state that McMillan’s Playtime is my selection as Book of 2018. Because McMillan’s verse appears so differently on the page – at times it appeared a vacuum of punctuation – the collection demanded to be approached differently from other poetry; I began to read poems aloud rather than whisper them, or internalise their sounds. Because the topics were so intimate, the themes so urgent, poems exploring homosexuality transformed in poems simply exploring sexuality; then they became like the very best poems, exploring something new. Because McMillan’s ‘I’ was vulnerable, aggressive, elusive, flawed and heroic, his first-person narrative voice could transposed into the multifarious mouths of many speakers.  And, because of all this, Playtime became not just the ideal parallel to be read alongside other books, but a method of seeing each of them anew. I think Night Sky with Exit Wounds will the book that resides on my bedside table through 2019 also, yet without Playtime, I may never have shaped the precise need for it.
Glyn Edward’s debut poetry collection will be published by The Lonely Press in early 2019.




A Feast of Words: Gwledd Conwy

29 10 2017

Just as the final workshop of the weekend grew the longest of shadows, a family crept inside the Conwy Youth Centre, at the corner of Bodlondeb Park and the Agriculture Site of this year’s Feast territory, and asked whether it was too late to write a poem.

While their parents wrapped themselves in the steam of their tall coffees, a brother and sister from Chester began searching the event programme for lines of text that could reside in a sensory poem, and rephrasing them so they were ten syllables each.

We discussed rhyme schemes and rearranged an order, argued over a title and an ending and settled on a completed poem.  The process of finding and writing and discussing and publishing took fifteen minutes.   The family helped me wash the cups I’d used over the previous days, to take down the washing line of free verse poems about pumpkins, crab fishing, small houses and sprawling castles, to return the furniture to its familiar grooves in the carpet and to switch of the lights.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Feast of Words site was hosted by the storyteller and host of Venue Cymru’s Young Storyteller of Wales 2017, Bethan Mascheranas, and by Bangor University, whose affable, academic lecturers spoke on themes of ‘identity’ and the ‘home’, and of the unique teacher, Mr Kite, who inspired a set of ubiquitous lyrics from The Beatles.

I found a window for a break and walked amongst wide crowds down the Main Street, a tide of visitors at the harbour and back through the stalls and stands in the park.

Unlike Saturday, when I kneeled on the floor like an anchorite assembling webs of poems all afternoon and stood only to swoon and clamour about the visits of the linguist David Crystal and poet Patience Agbabi.  A fine day.

Tomorrow, while all the detritus is being cleared from the quay, the marquees are being eased into hibernation and the offices of the Feast begin planning the 2018 event on a page of exciting, nervous blank paper, I may cross the bridge to Conwy and write up a poem I began while sitting at the dock with my wife on Saturday evening.  I hope very much to, it was a kind moment in a charmed weekend.





Yes, I remember Adlestrop: Little Man Coffee Shop, Cardiff, 21.04

22 04 2017

An Evening Celebrating the Influence of Edward Thomas on Contemporary Poetry

The Saturday morning train slumbers out from Cardiff Central.  The light is fierce against the window.  I squint at the Thomas’ The Trumpet.  After days of reading about Edward Thomas, I feel I can see his influence everywhere.  The train announcer threads place names together, his tongue flicking and clicking as knitted needles do. 

Prior to this month’s celebrations – marking a century since his death, in 1917, at the Battle of Arras – Edward Thomas had been peripheral to me.  He was the gentle face on Dylan Thomas’ writing shed wall, a name that Ted Hughes annually migrated to in his letters, a reviewer who fashioned a famous friendship with Robert Frost.

A static caravan lies on its side in paddock like a dozing horse.  Newport’s potterywheel mudbank river. A line of race martials carry their road markers crucifix-fashion to some distant death. 

Before attending Friday night’s poetry evening, I endeavoured to discover as much as I could about Edward Thomas beyond that learnt by reading and re-reading his verse. The Wales Arts Review had an invaluable store of articles and audio: Jo Mazelis’ piece on the prose and Thomas’ In Pursuit of Spring: Gary Raymond’s Offscript  podcasts, compiling recordings of Thomas’ peers and family, and an interview with Katie Gramich and Alison Harvey of Cardiff University, links to a radio play of Nick Dear’s The Dark Earth and the Light Sky, to the documentary Elected Friends.

A wheel of men like a hunting party, armed with loaded dog-ball throwers, encircled by bored pets.  Factory chimneys a pair of train funnels.  A heron standing sentinel at the fork of two charging brooks.

Rachel Carney, the event organiser and compere, had assembled a busy coffee shop audience for a series of readings.  She had linked the evening to the National Poetry Writing Month with a series of daily challenges based on Thomas’ work, and workshops, had attained the support of Literature Wales and secured access on the evening to some fascinating archived material from Cardiff Special Collections. Her admiration for Edward Thomas caused her to bubble and giggle wonderfully, and her longstanding passion for the poet hummed in her voice like a bee’s each time she leaned into the microphone.
Lucy Newlyn, who read initially from her collection Ginnel, sharing poems enriched with the Yorkshire dialect of her youth, spoke about Edward Thomas’ colloquial tone and use of dialogue.  And as her poems began to assume a lexicon so similar to Thomas’ they could’ve have been once rubbed by his fingerprints, she reflected on how her work feels inhabited by him.  Her final poems were, she revealed, too close to Thomas’ voice for her to seek them published as hers.

 

Jonathan Edwards began with ‘Old Man’.  The poem, about the herb, that concludes with one of Thomas’ most celebrated lines, ‘only an avenue, dark, nameless, without end.’ He shared poems from My Family and Other Superheroes, fastening them adroitly by their theme or their non-linear structure to Thomas’ verse or style.  He finished with an exciting new poem about an unexpected break from work and a walk in the autumn.  After his reading, he allowed me to study it alone and watched it, carefully, in my hands, like a parent whose child holds something alive, but stilled and fragile, something that waits to be placed back in the wild.  When I confided in him that it reminded me of Louis MacNeice’s poetry, he smiled at me earnestly and said, ‘I adore Louis MacNeice’.

I had intending to read the poem ‘Lob’ about finding truth in folklore, or indeed finding a way to be lost in its search, but didn’t quite trust in myself to deliver the six pages of rhyming couplets.  Instead, I read ‘Words’ and seized opportunity to link that ‘old cloak’ ‘worn new’ ‘fixed and free’ to the event in general, to all the readers, to Rachel, and to Edwards Thomas, whose verse attempted to make language and landscape ‘young as our streams after rain’.

Marc Hamer responded to a Thomas poem about chasing autumn leaves by examining his own position in the garden, his back ‘tattooed with clouds’. And Thomas Tyrell shared a memorable poem about the many different types of rain.  Other readers spoke about their imaginings of war abroad, of war at home, of indecision, of nostalgia, of owl encounters, of nature, of nature, of nature.

Furrows of a short crop, the earth tilled and bland.  Treetops hide the fields in lines of ash and larch, in brief suns of gorse, and then, unexpectedly, a window is illuminated by a crop of rape that charges off, surely all the way to the meridian.

‘Elected Friends’ documentary

Jo Mazelis’ article

Offscript – Gary Raymond in interview with Cardiff University

Offscript – Gary Raymond presenting archived recordings with Thomas’ family members





Review: ‘From the Fortunate Isles’ by Tony Curtis

28 03 2017

tony c

 

This book gives accommodation to five decades of Curtis’ career in literature.  Selected poems from ten collections are housed adjacently, with forty new poems, building ‘From The Fortunate Isles’, Curtis’ latest project, abutted at the gable end.  Here is a terrace of verse, akin to a loop of sea-staring houses strung along a Pembrokeshire shore; multifarious in tone, diverse in size, unique in structure, this is a collection, ‘where the light and summer sings’.

Within clearer, more prevalent themes of Curtis’ verse – South West Wales, identity, war, his father – there are subtly similar features.  Two poems from the 1983 collection ‘Letting Go’, ‘The World’ and ‘Tortoise’, ponder the concept of legacy.  ‘Tortoise’, the sole narrative poem in the book, recounts the discovery of an errant hibernating pet in a neighbour’s loft:

Just that.  A shell, hard, perfect and whole.  Inside, a shrunk ball of jelly.

Curtis reflects on the grotesque image that begins to take residence, like the tortoise itself, ‘lodged in the back of the mind’ until he is prompted to question the bleakness of a predestination, where a body can be outlived and made redundant by its skeleton:

to travel and come to nothing

On the page parallel is ‘The World’, which announces its portentous subject in the opening line, ‘this is how it ends’ before almost listing the cataclysmic events that occur as humanity recedes: ‘Russian subs…acid air…fire…the Third World / eats itself and starves.’  The final stanza delivers mankind back to its origins and to a fearful inheritance:

And farther out floating

towards them on a floe

a man,  a woman and a child waving

spears

Half a lifetime ago, Tony Curtis was a lecturer of mine at university.  In one workshop, he spread images of John Digby over the wide table and encouraged his undergraduates to address the surreal collages.   ‘There are two ways of looking at a thing’, he implored.  Six of these artworks, ornately decorated Moorish doorways used as window frames looking out to terrain populated by Grecian figures, dinosaurs, lighthouses, Victorian bathers, are aligned with their respective poems from the 1998 collection ‘The Arches’.  ‘XXII’ concludes with a stanza on the duplicity of language:

            This was ever the way –

            from the high clarity    

            the waves of confusion

            turn into the words

            that lead us astray.   

A piece of advice I recall from Curtis’ teachings was the need ‘to always begin strongly and end strongly’; he prized the first and final lines of a poem more than any others.  Thumbing through the two hundred and fifty pages of this book, it is clear that Curtis’ adheres emphatically to his own precept.  The thirteen poems taken from ‘Preparations’ are particularly charmed with resolutions of momentous, pacing, funereal sadness.

We turn our backs on a sky that goes on forever.

(Return to the Headland)

…our dead friends and fathers,      

 on the road, at the desk, looking over our shoulders.

(Poem for John Tripp)

 

Under the sun, the prodigal sky,

there are no healing waters.

(My Father in Pembrokeshire)

Of the forty poems from the eponymous collection, ‘From the Fortunate Isles’, many are observational, many are elegiac.  The title poem is languid and ambling and warmly reveals an encounter with street vendors and performers in the Canary Islands.  Against a theatrical drop of a menacing and rough Atlantic sea, Curtis experiences a hiatus and a temptation to ‘let loose of it all’.  The title of the poem, an allusion to a classical myth about idyllic islands reserved for favoured or blessed mortals, is slightly ambiguous: it is a simple reference to geography; it is hyperbolic in Curtis’ appreciation of holiday paradise; it is an acknowledgement to the artists and writers that both the poet and the collection mourns.

Elegies to the landscape painters Peter Prendergast and John Knapp-Fisher, to the poets Dannie Abse and Dylan Thomas, to the memory of his father, to personal friends, usher in the reflective mood and, once more, the theme of legacy:

if my ashes were emptied out here.

(Wanting Choughs)

Start strongly and finish strongly; the final poem of the book, ‘Seamus on the Tube’, does exactly that.  Reading Heaney’s poem ‘The Railway Children’ amongst a train filled with commuters ‘looking away, not looking away’, the narrator of the poem becomes mesmorised by their own escaped nostalgia.  Although it is written in second person narrative, it seems safe to assume the poem is autobiographical and consequently, safe to assume, from the final words of the final poem, that Curtis is content with all that he has built; serene in his legacy.

Reaching Warren Street, you’ve read it

Four or five times, absorbed the innocent wisdom

And sense of the thing.  Those people opposite

See a crazy old man mouthing words, appearing to sing.