‘Erato’: An Interview with Deryn Rees-Jones

Deryn Rees-Jones is the author of four previous collections of poetry, shortlisted variously for the Forward (first collection), TS Eliot and Roland Mathias prizes. Last month, she returned with her new collection Erato, which is a Poetry Book Society Summer Recommendation, but where does she look to for inspiration and how do these themes come through in her work? In this interview,  we talk to her about the new book and find out more about the themes, artists and imagery that inspire her.

 

Song comes through in many of the poems in Erato. In ‘Líadain and Cuirithir’, a poem about tragic love between two 7th century Irish poets, even the woods are singing: “When we sang, the woods sang back”. Do you consciously seek inspiration from the outdoor world?

Throughout Erato, I am thinking through longstanding questions I have about the role of the lyric poem, so often criticised because of its potential for individualism, introspection, and solipsism. ‘Líadain and Cuirithir’ is a lyric which attempts to enjoy its own musical beauty. But – and this is the important thing — I also erase it, score it through — because I’m signalling early on in the book my uncertainty about writing about the complexities of a relationship in an elegiac, romanticised way.  Those erasures and errors continue to be explored as the book expands on its thinking through a series of repetitions. So yes, song is a central part of the book. And I’m trying out what that sense of correspondence between the self and the natural world might be.

As the book opens out I think about all sorts of songs—and test out my feelings and thoughts about and through them. There’s bird song, the little song of the sonnet, the seductive song of the siren, which is also in the modern world, a different sound of danger and distress than the song of the sirens when Odysseus binds himself to the mast of his ship so that he can hear them but not be lured to his death. There is for me, now, in the current political climate, a sense that I need to question, more than ever, what I am doing, with language, in my engagement with the world. The phrase ‘Look Up’ appears on several occasions. With poetry – and I think poetry is an inherently social act — comes responsibility. A long answer to your question! But yes, I do take deep pleasure in the natural world, but always with an awareness that the world exists in a complex web of interdependences.

The poems often juxtapose beautiful images with sombre ones of loss. Can dark moments contain their own moments of inner beauty?

How do we make the privacy of the lyric engage with, be ethical, and encompass the world? Terrible things are happening, and every day on the news or on my twitter feed, I, all of us, become sometimes, for a moment, aware of them. Uprootedness, war, climate emergency… There is always a chance for empathy, for action. But often, we do nothing. One small way I have attempted to deal with all this knowledge of pain and difficulty has been to experiment with the formal ‘beauty’ of poetic structures.  So there are a lot of prose-like pieces which I have tried to structure like a sonnet. They carry something of the sonnet’s ‘little song’ but also need to find a new way of carrying them. So form and ‘beauty’ become thrown into question as they are pulled to a point of impossibility and transform into something else.

“The water and reflection ask / no question of themselves” in ‘Great Crested Grebes’. Do you think that too much introspection can be a barrier to creativity?

We all need to think and feel as much as we can, don’t we? So much in our lives demands that we think and live within often damaging and coercive and reductive systems. Or learn not to feel at all. I feel lucky that the society I live in still feels safe, and relatively free. But what has happened over the course of the last four or five years is a reminder of how quickly things we have taken for granted, can change. Creativity should not be a luxury.

The poems in the Courtship section of Erato are a riot of colour, sound and actions seen through the lives of birds. How do you make your selections of which birds and which attributes to use?

Because of my name, which means bird,  birds are deeply written into a sense of my own identity. Some of the birds in the book hold particular personal resonances; some I went looking for in books and online. I also have in mind birds as creatures which move between worlds of the living and the dead. The wren of Burying the Wren was both here and not here. Sirens in Greek mythology are also half-woman, half bird….

We were compelled to take a deep breath when reading this in the poem ‘Walk’: “I remembered my son’s look. It’s a kind of scary beauty, mum, he’d said one day but I could no longer recall why. / I was scared now / and took a deep breath. It felt like a wounding. I said, But even in the darkness, you know you are alive.” What techniques do you use to let a poem breathe in order to sound alive?

Each poem happens differently. Increasingly poems seem to get harder to write. But Erato is a book that is less concerned with poems as individual objects and more concerned with the sweep and trajectory of a book as a vehicle for thinking something through. I experimented with that in my earlier book Quiver which also explored ideas through the creation of a narrative structure. I would say that I am increasingly interested in using the book form to create an imaginative landscape for thinking. Once I finished Erato I realised that really it is part of a bigger sequence. There’s a piece in Erato, ’Fires‘, which tries to explore the link between trauma and creativity. Later this year I am publishing a little lyric essay/ poetic fragment called ‘Fires’ with Shoestring Press that explores the idea of creativity further. For better or worse, I already have the next book after this mapped out in my head!  So I am thinking of Erato as the first part of a trilogy that explores, even in terrible times, a vital, hopeful universe.

What are you most particularly hoping to find when you look beneath the foliage, the plumes and the clothing, for material to create a poem from?

Just as each poem happens in a different way so, too, each poem has its own task. The important moment for me is in bringing a book together, and asking all those elements which are fizzing away, making their own plans, repeating and transforming themselves, to have a conversation so that they become part of a more meaningful whole.

Your connection to the visual arts, and artists such a Paula Rego and Francesca Woodman, are themes that run through many of your poems and collections. What is it about the visual arts that inspires you and which are your biggest influences?

Critical and creative work often for me go hand in hand. Sometimes I am making conscious connections, sometimes not, and what goes on unconsciously excites me, of course. In Burying the Wren I wrote a sequence to Rego’s incredible and moving dog women pictures as a way of trying to understand them, and also as a way of trying to understand, or at least put words to, my own feelings after the death of my husband. Rego’s pictures address agency, pain, grief but importantly, too, they are pictures of metamorphosis, scratched out with huge energy, in pastel on canvas. I have spent the last two years working intensively on a critical book Paula Rego: The Art of Story, which will be published later this year, and getting to know the trajectory of Rego’s work over the last sixty years so intimately has been a huge pleasure. She has taught me something, I hope, about how to develop imaginative structures, and has prompted me to think about the relationship between the personal and political, the moment, and the historical.  Rego creates a prism of meaning through image, and story, the personal and the fabular. I think this gave me a way of thinking about giving form to complexities of experience in time. Like Rego, like many women artists, Woodman is also interested in representing the frequently objectified female body in a complex way. The body is central to Erato too  – the memory of a beloved’s body, the bodies of saints, the bodies of the dead, observed bodies, dolls’ bodies, the political body…

When reading the poems in Erato we often found tears in our eyes. If they fell on the not yet gestated wildflower seeds in ‘Gardens’, what flowers would you hope they would grow into?

It’s important to me that people are moved by the book. And I am aware that on one level I am telling a very personal story.  I wanted that to be simple and accessible, and around that things are woven in.  ‘Gardens’ is a poem about wishes, about transformations. I would really like to think that the whole book, now it has been published,  is something generative, that is not mine, but which, in making a connection between writer and reader, takes the reader somewhere else.

 

Want to hear more? Deryn is appearing alongside Tess Gallagher and Nessa O’Mahoney at Books Upstairs in Dublin later this month. If you’re local to the area why not pop along? More details can be found here

 

Erato is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘The Glass King of France’ by Sheenagh Pugh

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘The Glass King of France’ by Sheenagh Pugh, from her latest collection Afternoons Go Nowhere.

A fascination for history, both as a source of human drama and a field for artful speculation, characterises this collection of poems by Sheenagh Pugh. In Afternoons Go Nowhere the past seems more relevant to the present than ever, human nature never entirely predictable and often non-sensical, the natural world seeming full of a paradoxical beauty. Complex but with clear themes and lucid, musical language, Sheenagh Pugh’s tenth collection will delight discriminating readers.

Afternoons Go Nowhere is available from the Seren website: £9.99

Sheenagh also features in our Poems from Cardiff pamphlet available on the Seren website: £5.00

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Friday Poem – ‘Starlings’, Catherine Fisher

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Starlings’ by Catherine Fisher, from The Bramble King.

The Bramble King is full of darkly resonant tales, ingenious parables, curiously haunted rooms and palaces, and beautifully observed images of the natural world. A prolific, popular and prize-winning author of fantasy fiction, Catherine began her career as a poet, and Seren published her early volumes: Immrama, The Unexplored Ocean and Altered StatesThe Bramble King is Fisher’s first collection of poems since 1999.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Featured Image © Alan Hughes

Jayne Joso on Child Characters and her New Book; ‘From Seven to the Sea’

Jayne Joso author of My Falling Down House

Author Jayne Joso has recently been interviewed about how she creates compelling child characters. Her latest book, From Seven to the Sea, features a complex and beautifully written portrait of a seven-year-old girl, Esther.From Seven to the Sea

Children are amazing, they are so complicated and, at the same time, simple and straightforward in many ways, but what they lack is the vocabulary to describe their lives, particularly their feelings, and so it is easy for these feelings, their inner lives, to be overlooked.

You can read Joso’s full and insightful interview here: http://www.skylightrain.com/how-to-create-compelling-child…/

And purchase the wonderful From Seven to the Sea here:  https://www.serenbooks.com/productdisplay/seven-sea

Later this month, Joso will also be discussing her new novel alongside Deborah Kay Davies, hosted by Dylan Moore, at the Hay Festival 2019. The event, taking place on Wednesday, 29th May, 2.30pm at the Compass Studio is entitled Fiction: Freedoms.

Find out more and book your tickets here: https://hayfestival.com/p-15412-jayne-joso-and-deborah-kay-…

Joso will also be bringing her book to the Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, in July; details to follow, so watch this space…

Friday Poem – ‘Arcades’, Paul Henry

Our new quartet of regional poetry pamphlets have just arrived, with each celebrating a special place in Wales: its people, landscape, wildlife, and vibrant goings-on. This week our Friday Poem comes from Poems from Cardiff, our tribute to the Capital.

Paul Henry’s ‘Arcades’ inhabits the busy and eclectic Victorian arcades that wind around the city centre, telling a private tale of sadness, love, and hope. The poem was first published in The Brittle Sea, Henry’s bestselling New and Selected Poems.

 

Friday Poem Arcades Paul Henry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All four regional pamphlets, including Poems from Cardiff, are available on the Seren website: £5.00 (each)

 

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Friday Poem – ‘Angry Birds’, Eoghan Walls

Friday Poem Angry Birds

This week our Friday Poem is the opening number from Eoghan Walls’ forthcoming second collection, Pigeon Songs – ‘Angry Birds’.

Pigeon Songs Eoghan WallsPigeon Songs follows on from Walls’ much-praised debut, The Salt Harvest. From the first poem, we have a sense of the poet’s themes and preoccupations: we have a richly metaphorical and densely allusive style, a pull towards formal metre and structures. There is also the occasional vigorous vulgarity, adding a touch of blue humour to the canvas, breaking up the formal rigour. Family is a potent presence in poems inspired by parents, grandparents, partners, children. They often emit a sort of energy, a fierce gravitational pull of emotion around the burning heart of a poem ultimately about love, or the sorrow of losing a loved-one.

 

Friday Poem Angry Birds Eoghan Walls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigeon Songs is due for publication on 28 February. Pre-order your copy now from the Seren website: £9.99

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Gen: An Interview with Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards Gen interview

Jonathan Edwards GenJonathan Edwards’ debut collection, My Family and Other Superheroes, was a triumph: shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and winner of the Costa Poetry Award 2014.
Jonathan now returns with his wonderful second collection, Gen. How did the writing process differ this time, and what can we expect to see in the new poems? In this interview, we find out more about Jonathan and his new work.


How did the process of writing Gen differ from putting together your debut collection, My Family and Other Superheroes?
I think, like most people’s second collections, it was swifter, and I had more of a sense of what I was doing. I grew up at a time when the struggles of bands like The La’s to produce a follow-up to successful work were legendary, and the voice of those experiences sits on your shoulder. I wanted to maintain in this collection the strengths of the first book, writing about famous people and their interactions with the ordinary, focusing on Kurt Cobain’s mythical visit to the Newport nightclub TJs, or the impact on a young boy of watching the disgraced Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson racing in 1988. I also wanted to continue looking at a Valleys village life in surreal ways, constructing narratives about a village which is inundated by tourists, and another where a street is locked down for a day, and the residents decide to spend the time having a massive party. It was also important, though, to reach out in new directions. One of these was about incorporating other voices in the book. The collection includes a range of monologues, working with the voices of lions and servants, trees and cities, and I wanted to work with real voices too, interviewing some of the figures at the heart of the Welsh historical events which feature in the poems. I was also interested in echoing the collection’s central interest, of being young, through a wide range of experiences, looking at my own youth and the youth of my parents, but also considering youth through a range of events in Welsh history. What was it like for my grandfather to be young at the turn of the twentieth century in Newport? What was it like to be a child at Capel Celyn?

Gen includes poems that provide glimpses into pin-prick moments from the distant and not-so-distant past – for instance, ‘Servant Minding a Seat for his Master Before a Performance of The Rivals, Covent Garden Theatre, 1775’, and ‘Welsh Flag on the Wall of Richard Burton’s Dressing Room, Broadway, 1983’ – told from the perspective of the flag.  Is it more challenging getting into the head of an inanimate flag than, say, a family member?
Writing more monologues was one difference with this collection – I see the book as a boxful of voices you can open, and they all come out, some shouting in your face, some whispering in your ear, some sulking or stuttering, some jibber-jabbering on. I’d been lucky enough to be asked to teach a number of workshops, to all sorts of different groups, since the publication of the first book, and writing monologues is a great workshop activity – I use the great Carol Ann Duffy poem, ‘A Week as my Home Town’ as a way into writing about place. So it became inevitable that I would want to push my usual concerns – class, Wales, animals – through monologue. I say ‘would want to’ but this isn’t quite right. The truth is that the voices of these poems wrote them for me, and I sat there like a sort of court reporter or secretary, trying to keep up. Monologue is great for a writer because it allows you to go into other worlds and see and feel other things, all while sitting at a desk, clutching a pen. It can take you much farther than Easyjet, and it’s cheaper. You can open your eyes as a lion, see your reflection on the inside of the glass of your zoo enclosure, feel your lion-breath against the glass. Or you can rub your eyes again and open them in the eighteenth century, smell the stink of the streets, hear the bloke next to you, gossiping about your master, spot someone in a doorway over there, looking furtive, saying your name. Or you can wake up and be a whole city, think everything you think, explore all your nooks and crannies, your hilltops and waterways, feel how you feel for your rush-hour commuters and your lost-hearted rough sleepers. It’s magic that poems can do this. Charles Bukowski used to talk about writing a poem having to compete with a night out at the movies as an alternative form of entertainment for the writer. Monologue, and the promise of finding out in intimate and fascinating ways about completely alien experiences, is one way of getting yourself onto a chair to write.

Family is once again a central theme, and the small and unnoticed actions of family members often overshadow larger, less personal histories – for instance, the image of your grandfather tying people’s shoelaces together in ‘Harry Houdini on Newport Bridge, May 1905’. It’s obvious you take great joy in recounting these anecdotes – who can you thank for this interest in family history, and will we be hearing more wild tales of the Edwardses in future collections?
As with everything in life, really, I thank my mother and father for the existence of these poems. Also the South Wales Argus: the stories it features always have a decent chance of making it into my poems, and I would politely thank its writers and editors to remember this, when writing up their copy. My family has always been interested in its own history, partly because our history is so mysterious and obscure – World War One, for example, and the way my family seemed to roll down this valley, generation by generation, until I emerged, at the bottom, blinking, headachey and literate. In a framed black-and-white photo on the mantelpiece, my grandfather is the image of me, Brylcreem’d and watch-chained, blinking out of a black-and-white photo, yet I never met him. What was it like to wake up and be him? What were the smells and tragedies of his life? Writing about him can help bridge the gap between what I share deeply with him and what I know nothing of.

In terms of more tales of the Edwardses, they’re always on the go. Sinéad Morrissey’s On Balance is a magisterial, holy collection for me, and I especially love the ‘Collier’ sequence, about her grandfather. My maternal grandfather was a will-o-the-wisp character, all pinstripe suits and Woodbines, a rickety, backfiring Volkswagen Beetle and a grin from here to the end of the street. His experience, my nan’s experience, is something I want to shout and sing about – I don’t know what writing is for, really, if it isn’t to re-discover and celebrate their Workingmen’s Club and bay-windowed, permed or eye-sparkling lives.

How do you think your poetic style has evolved since the publication of the first book?
I often say, jokingly, at readings, that my poetry shows enormous evolution between books one and two: the first collection is made up of poems about my family, which often focus on famous people, while my second collection is made up of poems about famous people, which often focus on family. One thing I wanted to do in this collection was explore more fully the ground I’d sketched out in the first book, to approach those themes from different directions and travel into them farther. In my first collection, I was interested in the history of Wales, writing about Chartism and the North Wales village of Capel Celyn, drowned in the 1960s in order to create a water source for Liverpool. Capel Celyn is a resonant, echoing subject in all sorts of ways – the human experience of losing your home, the relationships which people would have sustained and developed, as well as the political implications of this episode, and the way it drove Devolution. Additionally, as someone who lives in a tight-knit village community, my heart is in this place and in its loss. One thing I was keen to do, then, was to get the voices and the real experience of Capel Celyn into the writing. It turned out that David Walters, who was arrested for one of the first attacks on the dam site at Tryweryn, is from just up the road from me in Bargoed, and I am really grateful to him for the interview which resulted in the ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ sequence. Equally, these poems are indebted to a number of important books which serve this subject, including Einion Thomas’s Capel Celyn: Ten Years of Destruction and Owain Williams’s first-person account, ­­­­­Tryweryn: A Nation Awakes. The poems in Gen which mourn this experience are a baby step towards the book of poems which is needed on this subject.

Your poetry displays a deep and constant affection for the Welsh landscape and experiences of your youth – even down to the mess and madness of an illicit party: ‘there / was chaos, carnage, every pot plant / an ashtray, every ashtray a sick bag.’ (‘House Party at Tanya’s, 1995’). Your poems certainly aren’t rose-tinted, and yet they hold onto a sense of celebration. Do you hope readers will share that sense of fondness and familiarity?
One of the reasons I write is that it makes time travel possible. Once I get the notebook and the biro up to 88mph, I can get there. Time is clearly a concern across both collections, and I love that I can step into a room, scribble a line, and be in another time. Some of these are times before I was born – I like hanging out with my parents in the years before I knew them, and seeing what they were like, or spending time in a poem with a grandfather I never met. I love that poetry can be a way of talking to people who aren’t there anymore, because they aren’t themselves any more, and some of these people are past selves. Either poetry is a loudspeaker shouting across time, or else it’s a box you put yearning in to store under the stairs. Like lots of people, I guess, I know exactly the second of my life I would go back to if I could, and what I would do differently. The poems in this collection about house parties and school days, my father crashing a car in 1965, my mother cutting her arm in 1955, my uncle smoking a pipe in 1986 – it’s all a way, I suspect, of addressing that.

Anyone lucky enough to have seen you perform will know that you are as entertaining in person as you are through your poems. What events and projects do you have lined up?
From now until August, I seem to be reading everywhere that will have me, and several places that won’t, from Cardiff to Cork, from Merthyr to Mitcheldean. This is one of the best things about poetry – hitting the road and seeing what happens to you, meeting the artists, the enthusiasts, the personalities who keep poetry going up and down the country. This time round, it will be about re-connecting with people who are now friends, and I love that poetry has made that happen. As my sinister mega-global marketing campaign has it, all events will be advertised on the Seren website. I love teaching poetry and working with other writers to help them develop, and am really excited about my upcoming courses for The Poetry School and Tŷ Newydd. This month, the Poetry Society will be launching a film of a poem I wrote in celebration of the Monmouth and Brecon canal, made by Chris Morris of Falmouth University. I’m really proud of this work and really excited about the opportunity to sing for a place that has always been really important to me, a place I splashed and grew up in. There are some other exciting things coming up which I’m not allowed to talk about yet and other crazier, wilder projects, including zoo animals and Valleys school children, installations and chaos, I hope can happen, if I can talk the right people into it. Most important will be finding the time to scribble new poems. Whatever else the future holds, whether it’s time travel or history, voices or narrative, I very much hope there’s a lot more writing to be done.

 

Local to Cardiff? Catch Jonathan at the Seren Cornerstone Poetry Festival – he will be in conversation with Christopher Meredith and Archbishop George Stack in the ‘Afternoon Tea: Generations’ event, 9 February. Tickets include a generous selection of cakes, pastries and sandwiches. Book now.

 

 

 

Gen is available from the Seren website: £9.99

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Peter Jones: on editing my father’s letters

Peter Jones Dear Mona Letters

In Dear Mona: Letters from a Conscientious Objector, we are given a window into the life of Jonah Jones through private letters to his close friend and mentor, Mona Lovell. We see his character evolve as he nurtures his love of art and sculpture, and finds new ways to express his creativity.

A pacifist, Jones at first declined to enlist when war broke out, but later served as a non-arms bearing medic in the Second World War. His letters give an emotional insight into the prejudices he faced and the reality of his wartime experiences. Peter Jones, Jonah’s son, has edited this fascinating book and here gives insight into the difficult process of bringing its intimate contents to print.

 

Deciding to publish my father’s letters to Mona was both an easy step and one of the hardest things I have had to do.

Easy because of the quality of the writing and the interest the material holds. There is a clear narrative arc to the letters as the intense relationship between Len Jones (as my father Jonah was then known) and his friend and mentor Mona Lovell develops, and he simultaneously stumbles towards his vocation in art. This makes them a very satisfying read, and gives the whole a novelistic quality. Along the way we get fascinating insights into the life of a conscientious objector in the Second World War, vivid descriptions of action after Len joins the 6th Airborne Division as a non-combatant medic, and powerful accounts of the tension in British Mandate Palestine in the run-up to the birth of the State of Israel.

Len Jones, 1945
Len Jones, 1945
‘…there is no hysteria – only a desperate apathy & an anxious searching for belongings as they come from their cellars or from a few miles back. Once in the back area again they begin to smile even, as the war moves on & they feel safe again – but many have lost what can never be replaced…’

All of this compelled publication. Yet at the same time I wavered, for my father was a very private man in some ways, and I knew he would not have been glad to see these letters released to the world. They cover a time when he was mainly unhappy, a time he preferred to forget. And of course, fundamental to my whole dilemma, was his relationship with Mona – she was in love with him, he looked on her as a soul-mate whom he valued dearly as a friend but could not love in the way she wished. It was extremely hard to lay all this open before a reading public.

Len Mona
Len and Mona relax in the park

So the question arose: could I make the insightful, non-personal material available without publishing the deeply personal side of the letters? Yes, but this would run the risk of creating a narrative without a narrative, for Len’s relationship with Mona (and, to a lesser but still important extent with the poet James Kirkup) is the spine of the whole story. Most crucial, cutting out the personal would diminish Mona to little more than a sounding board for Len’s thoughts and experiences. This would be a grave injustice, for it is clear how vital she was in Len’s transition from his constricted working class roots to the man who could express himself through art. Too often women have been relegated to the shadows of history; Mona did not deserve this fate.

Dear Mona
Mona Lovell, 1935

So, with qualms, I decided to lay out the whole story. It reveals so much: how life was for conscientious objectors in the Second World War (we have heard a lot about their brave predecessors in the Great War, but much less of Len’s generation), the widespread frustration people suffered due to their lives being suspended by the war, the congenial debating society that was Carmel College in Haifa, where servicemen and women did university-style courses prior to demobilization. Some of the issues touched on in Len’s letters seem remarkably topical, especially the Arab-Israeli conflict and anti-semitism (whether among forestry workers in Yorkshire or British officials), and homosexuality, on which he evolved from unthinking revulsion to deep compassion. These letters are compelling; the world should see them.

Peter Jones.

Friday Poem – ‘Gen’ by Jonathan Edwards

Friday Poem Gen Jonathan Edwards

Costa Award-winner Jonathan Edwards is gifting us a splendid second collection, Gen, which arrives next week. Our Friday Poem today is the title poem from this new book.

You can catch Jonathan at Poetry in Aldeburgh on Sunday 4 November, 11:30am, where he will be reading some of his new poetry. Tickets available here.

Jonathan Edwards GenGen is a book of lions and rock stars, street parties and servants, postmen and voices. In the opening sequence’s exploration of youth and young manhood, the author sets his own Valleys upbringing against the ’50s youth of his parents and the experience of a range of pop culture icons, including Kurt Cobain and Harry Houdini. These poems give way to a sequence of monologues and character sketches, giving us the lives of crocodiles and food testers, pianists and retail park trees. Other poems place a Valleys village and the characters who live in it alongside explorations of Welsh history and prehistory, and the collection concludes with a selection of sometimes witty, sometimes heartfelt love poems. All in all, Gen is a superb follow-up to Edwards’ debut, My Family and Other Superheroes, which won the Costa Poetry Award in 2014.

 

Gen Jonathan Edwards Friday Poem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gen is available to pre-order from the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Song a Year after My Mother’s Death’, Carrie Etter

Friday Poem Carrie Etter Song a Year after My Mother's Death

This week our Friday Poem is ‘Song a Year after My Mother’s Death’, from Carrie Etter’s recently published collection, The Weather in Normal.

Carrie Etter The Weather in NormalEtter’s fourth poetry collection, The Weather in Normal is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Its focus is Etter’s hometown of Normal, Illinois, lamenting its loss through the death of her parents, the sale of the family home, and the effects of climate change on Illinois’ landscape and lives.

‘Song a Year after My Mother’s Death’ first appeared in Poetry Review.

 

 

Carrie Etter Song Mother's Death

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Weather in Normal is available from the Seren website: £9.99

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