Friday Poem – ‘Interviewing’ by Ruth Bidgood

Following the sad passing of Ruth Bidgood, and in celebration of International Women’s Day, this week’s Friday Poem is ‘Interviewing’ from Ruth’s award-winning collection Time Being.

This cover shows a mid-wales valley shrouded in mist beneath a sky tinged pink by the sunrise. The text reads: Ruth Bidgood. Time Being. A Poetry Book Society Recommendation

Ruth Bidgood’s Time Being, winner of the Roland Mathias Prize, is emphatically a collection of location. The history and nature of the poet’s particular region of mid-Wales inspire these poems. Bidgood avoids sentimentality but not sentiment: an observation can engender joy or sorrow or fear uncluttered by irony. These descriptions are sharp and memorable, tending to a cool accuracy. Nature is not always benign, but often inescapably dark and mysterious, lyric and move towards a more epic, multi-faceted form equal to the many experiences of her long life.

Interviewing 

When I was the one with the recorder 
I liked the richness of dark and light
in their reminiscing, the unexpectedness, 
the shocks and laughter, but not 
the drooping voice they used for saying 
“All gone now, all over”, 
or “Water under the bridge, eh?” – 
as if there was something wrong 
with ending on a high note, 
or moving to the present without 
that cloying downbeat refrain. 

So now when she comes, this likeable girl 
with her little gadget, her young hands 
(no slack skin, no gravespots) setting it up, 
I’m my own censor, ignoring 
her questions’ invitation 
to lament, her disappointed eyes 
thirsty for the juice of my tears.

Time Being is available on the Seren website £8.99

Poems from this collection are also featured in A Last Respect, an anthology of poems by the eleven winners of the Roland Mathias Prize.

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Friday Poem – ‘Beachcombing’ by Tiffany Atkinson

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Beachcombing’ by Tiffany Atkinson from the anthology A Last Respect. Don’t forget to tune into the BBC Radio Wales Arts Show tonight to hear the announcement of the Wales Book of the Year 2021 English-language winners.

A Last Respect is a selection of contemporary Welsh poetry by winners of the Roland Mathias Prize. The poems included are wide ranging in style and subject. They contemplate relationships, nature, the environment, mortality, time, art and politics, and take place in a range of locations, from Aberystwyth to Baghdad, from war-torn landscapes to parents’ evenings. Featuring Dannie Abse, Tiffany Atkinson, Ruth Bidgood, Ailbhe Darcy, Rhian Edwards, Christine Evans, John Freeman, Philip Gross, Gwyneth Lewis, Robert Minhinnick, and Owen Sheers, it is a must-have anthology of poetry from Wales.

Beachcombing

Children will enter the water hands first. There’s
a knack that women all over the world have
of putting up hair in a knot, the pale nape gathers
the salt. The babushka and the magpie
own the beach but no one cares. Her fingers
strum the muscles in her thighs. She’s a mountain
but her fingertips are diamonds. This patisserie
of crotches in their little wraps; how tenderly
we don’t look. Airport novels crackle in the sand.
Even the baby’s too dazzled to cry; his fat hands
bounce on the breeze. I have spent a half-life
on the wrong strand. Here’s the barman’s daughter
selling frappé. I would like a bitter chinking glassful
emptied on my head. I would like to drink the sea.
I’d like every tiny house of sand to wear me down.
When the small brown woman comes to snap the
last umbrellas shut, she’ll tut and sweep the bones.

A Last Respect is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy from us.

The Amazingly Astonishing Story by Lucy Gannon is on the Creative Non-Fiction shortlist for Wales Book of the Year 2021. Buy your copy here.

Friday Poem – ‘Unseen Island’ by Christine Evans

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Unseen Island’ by Christine Evans from our new anthology A Last Respect.

The cover of A Last Respect shows a painting of rolling green fields beneath a blue sky. In the distance, a lake is visible at the bottom of the valley.

A Last Respect is a selection of contemporary Welsh poetry by winners of the Roland Mathias Prize. The poems included are wide ranging in style and subject. They contemplate relationships, nature, the environment, mortality, time, art and politics, and take place in a range of locations, from Aberystwyth to Baghdad, from war-torn landscapes to parents’ evenings. Two accompanying essays provide the context in which the poets work. In her Introduction, Jane Aaron writes about Roland Mathias: a poet himself, but also an influential editor and cultural commentator who did much to foster and develop poetry in Wales. A Last Respect is a continuation of his legacy. Daniel G. Williams’ Afterword is an incisive discussion about poetry in Wales over the past sixty years: where it started from and how it changed. A must-have anthology of poetry from Wales.

Featuring Dannie Abse, Tiffany Atkinson, Ruth Bidgood, Ailbhe Darcy, Rhian Edwards, Christine Evans, John Freeman, Philip Gross, Gwyneth Lewis, Robert Minhinnick, and Owen Sheers.

Unseen Island. From accross the sleeping Sound the unseen island nudges at my consciousness – wind-blown Enlli; nowhere more steeped in calm, more resonant of growing. There, air trembles with associations and I am played to a tune I scarcely recognise easy as water, but earthed. Is it energy or faith that breeds content in me? Washed smooth, drawn out, moulded to acceptance like clay on a wheel, so like a compass I am pointing always where you lie – elusive, shimmering – but no mirage: my unblurring.

A Last Respect is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Ruth Bidgood wins the Roland Mathias Prize 2011

Ruth Bidgood wins the Roland Mathias Prize 2011 with her collection of poetry Time Being, published by Seren (2009).

The £3,000 prize was awarded to Ruth Bidgood at ceremony in Roland Mathias’ home town of Brecon, supported by BBC Wales and hosted by Nicola Heywood Thomas, presenter of Radio Wales’ Arts Show.

In future years, it is to be incorporated into the Wales Book of the Year.

Congratulations Ruth!

Ruth Bidgood with editor Amy Wack at the prize giving event in Brecon.