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The Bloodaxe Book of Modern Welsh Poetry:…

The Bloodaxe Book of Modern Welsh Poetry: 20th-Century Welsh-Language…

by Menna Elfyn

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Welsh poetry has a history spanning 14 centuries, from Taliesin in the 6th century to the poets who compete to be bardd at the Royal National Eisteddfodau of Wales every year. This new anthology of 20th century Welsh poets in translation collects the most acclaimed Welsh-language poets in an anthology with enough space to prove their quality and diversity. The collection progresses from the nature lyrics of I.D. Hooson to the parables of Nesta Wyn Jones, from Second World War poet, Hedd Wyn, to the strict metre of Allan Llwyd. Welsh publishing houses like Seren, Honno and Gomer have laboured to promote these Welsh-language poets, but it is a unique event for this anthology to be published by Bloodaxe, an English press. At last, Welsh literature may cultivate a readership outside its national boundaries and perhaps even internationally. John Rowlands' informative, if dry, introduction announces, "my audience is not necessarily an English one, but an English reading one".

This is a very admirable project, but one dissenting voice questions its validity – that of poet and musician, Twm Morys. Morys refused to contribute to the anthology, since he proclaims, "I'm speaking with Welsh-speaking people – if others want to join in, well they can bloody well learn the language." Rowlands tries to deflate this anxiety by highlighting the global audience who now have access to these poets, but Twm Morys' protest reverberates silently in the absence of the Welsh originals, which were not included alongside the English translations. Morys' view is extreme and exclusive, but his comment illustrates a fundamental Welsh anxiety that exists between the binaries of inclusive versus exclusive, tradition versus modernity, Welsh versus English. Most Welsh poets exist in a no man’s land between opposing forces.

More at this weblink: http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/zoebrigley/tag/articles_and_reviews/?num=10&start... ( )
  ZBrigley | Jul 7, 2007 |
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