Upcoming Readings: Llawn / Swansea

26 08 2019

 

LLawn

Llawn Festival: Llandudno

See Llawn website here for details of other events

milieu event

Swansea Fringe

See full festival line and events details here





‘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.

 





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!





An Evening of Chamber Music

6 02 2019

No photo description available.

There were news reports last summer about paths that had been revealed by the dry weather. I wrote a poem about following these trails with my son, Arthur. It began:

‘the land revealed two tracks
it had kept secret for centuries.’

The poem became the libretto for a piece of music composed by Ollie Lambert and performed by Joe Ashmore. It’s being premiered in March, in Manchester.

For more information, visit: https://www.joeashmorebaritone.com/





Outspoken – Neuadd Ogwen – Bethesda

28 01 2019

poetry

On Friday, the inaugural Outspoken event in Bethesda took place to a sold-out Neuadd Ogwen audience.  I  quickly exchanged Dydd Santes Dwynwen cards with my wife at home then hurried along the read some alternative love poems at the new event.  Two of the poems can be read here. while another poem is available in Verve Poetry’s anthology on male suicide.

Tim ‘Double-Barrelled’ Humphreys-Jones had begun the evening with a breathless series of spoken word poems and ended on a slower note with verse on his grandmother’s final words.  The poets Karen Ankers and Ness Owen read about politics and place and equal rights. The session of guest poets was ended by Martin Daws who mixed his spoken word work with print poems on slavery and scenery and the central space of home.

An Open-Mic session was fully subscribed; a new event in North Wales’ poetry calendar secured.

Huge congratulations to Jess Melville-Richards for organising and compering the event and for establishing another platform to listen and share and speak and to be heard.

 

 

download

 

2download





Books of the Year Recommendations

15 12 2018

1012156_441771249288084_914389945_n

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.




Call for entries: The Terry Hetherington Prize 2019 / Cheval 12

21 10 2018

 

cheval

A writer charges to their teens with a pen in hand, trying to score something permanent about the implausible self on the impossible earth. In diaries, journals, blogs, sketchbooks, this writer excavates channels of self-discovery me my I me my I. Gradually, painfully, they become so fluent in digging that they seek instead to build. Though, there being so little time to build and so, so many structures to ape, that a writer briefly forgets they are a writer, and fills their hands with books and bricks and baby’s bottles. Soon, they forget why they wrote. Next, then they forget that they wrote. Then they forget.

The Terry Hetherington Prize was created to encourage writers to the realisation that, should they dig further and dig longer, should they take their time in prudent planning and blissful building, that there would be cityscape for such structures to survive in. Over a decade later, the trustees of the Prize under the careful dedication of Aida Birch have ensured that hundreds of writers, at an age when the noise of the world around could have muffled their prose or starched their verse can neither forget their craft, nor their potential for craft.

Cheval 11 is this year’s architecture – the statue in its town centre, standing taller than his legacy, pen in hand, is the poet Terry Hetherington.

This year’s judging panel would urge you to visit ‘The Silver Darlings’ by Katya Johnson and Thomas Tyrell’s ‘Sometimes in Summer’ and ‘Young Tommy’ by Michael Muia. In your second sitting, please enjoy the commended entries ‘The Barren Land’ by Thomas Baker and ‘Tylluan’ by Nathan Munday.

We hope you enjoy your stay and return often.

Glyn Edwards and Rose Widlake

Editors

 

Details of how you can apply for the 2019 Terry Hetherington Prize and submit your work for Cheval 12, can be found here.

Copies of Cheval 11 can be purchased at the following Parthian Books link:

 

 





The Birthday Waltz

6 12 2017

A piano accompaniment by my friend, Daniel Trevithick, of a poem featured in Issue 8 of The Lonely Crowd.  The poem was written during a ten day residency in the Dylan Thomas Boathouse and seeks to interpret the voice of Vernon Watkins as he searches for his friend Dylan Thomas in and around his Laugharne home.  The poems structure is based on Thomas’ The Birthday Walk.

Daniel is a guitarist and percussionist in the band Black Mountain Lights.





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.





The final days: residency at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse

25 10 2016

The Boathouse crowds eddied in the bright light all week.  As the weather calmed and the sun visited more generously, tourists to Laugharne sat by the wide bay for longer and longer.  On one welcoming day, a pair of dog-walkers and their muddy corgi,  arrived when the River Taf was heavy in the estuary and left when it was barely visible; we’d spent much of the afternoon in the Thomas’ yard together.

Commonly, visitors would arrive like the garden’s resident robin, flying down in fleeting sortees and disappearing just as anonymously.  Some came in passing flocks, such as the affable murmuration from University of Wales Trinity St Davids, staying to pick at Welsh teas, to share scones, to warm their wings.  They spoke in a vibrant rabble of Mandarin, French, Canadian and the yard seemed hushed and dusky when they’d flown away.  And others were regular migrants, visiting the Writing Shed and the Boathouse on an annual, or more frequent pilgrimage.  

The writer and poet John Bilsborough came to collect some books from his residency the week before.  He showed me the stunning collection of writers’ names and messages he’d gathered in his career journal: R.S. Thomas; Victoria Wood; John Betjemen.  Another artist to visit was the seascape painter Gareth Hugh Davies, who brought his family of illustrators for lunch.  All indulged the drawing challenge with their unique styles, Gareth’s daughter indulged me with her sketchbook which was flawlessly assembled and carefully beautiful.  

While other guests were noteworthy for their energy and vigour, such as a rare pair of articulate children from Penrith who produced the most-savage of sea imagery.

And memorable for their charisma, as a poetess and her husband who drew and drew and drew and shared their literature passions as though we were long friends. 

 

After work one day, I visited Newport and read at The Lonely Crowd launch evening.  Heavy roadworks choked the journey there, and the M4 on the drive home felt as long as a continent.  Though the few hours spent in the Murenger were more stimulating and satisfying that I could have gleefully anticipated.  Hosted by John Lavin, readings from Tony Curtis, Carla Manfredino, Alix Nathan, John Freeman, Craig Austin, Rebecca Lawn formed a collage illustrating just how intriguing the literature scene is in South Wales currently.  Chris Cornwell read his ‘Last Night Down Whetstone Road’ in a voice glossy with Dylan’s aesthetic verve for phonetics, Gary Raymond read a story about immigration and fear and stereotype, and veiled pertinent satire around wonderful, characters such as the tale’s ubiquitous Ellis.       

img_2999

Ordinarily, on a Friday afternoon, I’d be stood in Ysgol Pen-y-Bryn’s assembly hall, watching certificates be awarded to inspired learners.  On this occasion, they were watching the boathouse and writing shed through my eyes.  Or, more precisely, through a FaceTime connection.  The Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Raynor, was in attendance at the school, together with a local MP, and they observed the whole school attempt a modern twist on a Dylan Thomas poem:  ‘Have you Ever Seen Half Term

On the weekend, my wife arrived with my son and we took the work from the week along Dylan’s route about Sir John’s Hill.  While retreading ‘The Birthday Walk’, she helped me film a video compilation of illustrations, my son made atmospheric leaf rustling effects and lingered precariously on steep images.

On one afternoon, when Dylan’s door was leaned shut, two ladies from the boathouse improvised a reading from my poem ‘Caitlin’, in response to Dylan’s ‘Do Not Go Gentle’ and I filmed it to store for when my debut collection, ‘Conversations’, is published next year.  Or for when Judith or Elen achieve fame in their respective fields of ceramics and translation.  Back at ‘The Pelican’, housing and feeding me until I began to bloat and sprout tight curls of hair, I was given lessons on sculpture and whisky by the artist David Gunther.

And yesterday, I drove my family home.  Home.  Up the serpentine Aberystywth Road.  My son was poorly as we passed Dolgellau, poorly as we approached Machynlleth, as though he was already enduring withdrawal symptoms from his brief time in Laugharne.  Reflecting back today, I too feel a stab homesick for a place that had become so welcoming to me.  

img_2996