Dannie Abse 1923-2014


We’re saddened by the passing of Dannie Abse, doctor, poet, novelist, dramatist, autobiographer, anthologiser and diarist. Dannie, one of the finest – and surely the most humane – of post war poets in Britain, was for many years intimately involved with Seren. He was the earliest supporter of Cary Archard in setting up Poetry Wales Press (as it then was) and, with characteristic generosity made the annexe of his house in Ogmore-by-Sea its’ first office. The business grew and the office moved on to Bridgend but Dannie remained on the management board for many years, offering advice, contacts, ideas and books. His Miscellany One – the Press’s very first title, was followed over the years by Intermittent Journals, The View from Row G, Twentieth Century Anglo-Welsh Poetry, the paperback of There was a Young Man from Cardiff and a collection of poems, Welsh Retrospective.

Such involvement in writing matters was replicated elsewhere. Dannie was at various times President of Academi, Chairman of the Poetry Society, a magazine editor, anthologiser (see his Hutchinson Book of Post-War Poets for a different take on the subject) and supporter of numerous causes, literary and political. He was very much part of that engaged generation of writers which both reflected and shaped responses to the contemporary world, beyond what might be termed the establishment. Dannie was a thoughtful man and also one of opinions, especially about poetry, which were most recently expressed as a judge for the Forward Prize, the results of which will be known this Thursday. But it will be for his writing, and in particular his poetry, that Dannie will be remembered: intelligent, wry, humorous, searching, warm and above all, human. We look forward with regret and sadness to his farewell in the Collected Poems to be published in January 2015

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