Welcome to UK Poetry - August 2008



Welcome to the UK August edition of Poetry International Web, which features three poets chosen by Kathryn Gray. We’re lucky to have caught Kathryn just on the cusp of stepping into her new role as editor of New Welsh Review, where she was previously poetry editor. Her selection for our August issue is an indicator of the kind of work she has championed at NWR.

Kathryn won an Eric Gregory Award in 2001. Her debut collection, The Never Never (Seren, 2004), was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize in that year. Her own poetry was described by Douglas Dunn as “delightfully accessible, intelligent, full of deftly rendered detail and attractive cadences”.

Kathryn’s choice of poets for this edition is not exclusively Welsh. The first of the three, Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, was born in Wales and has lived in England, France and the Scilly Isles, though eventually returned to her home turf of New Quay, Ceredigion. Her poetry is marked by an intense focus on personal identity. Superficial trappings abound, such as glass slippers and shirt buttons, or a matador’s coat and cape; but the individuals within the clothes are often wounded, the matador provoking a goring, the narrative voice revealing stitches, and a few bodies.

German-born Tiffany Atkinson has spent long enough in Wales to qualify for the title of “Welsh poet”.  Tiffany is now firmly ensconced on the west coast, in Aberystwyth. Her work unfolds with a passionate, yet tongue-in-cheek take on the Welsh landscape, such as in her wry response to the weather in the poem ‘Rain—’, which rises up into something greater at the end. Rural and coastal places become ways to deepen and reflect on the everyday experiences that build up into something greater than the sum of its parts. She explores identity, national and personal, with a simple, gentle touch that nevertheless reaches into a more complex emotional space.

The final poet showcased this summer is Tim Liardet, an English poet based in Bath, just the other side of the Severn estuary from Cardiff and Newport. Tim’s work is marked by a very particular exploration of male identity, stemming from his time working in a young offenders’ institute. This ongoing investigation produced his excellent collection, The Blood Choir (Seren, 2006), and now the theme extends further, with a new series of poems elegising his dead brother. The repetition of ‘brother’ through the selection offered here builds a feeling of comradeship that takes a sudden, heart-rending turn in ‘The Gorse Fires’, when a coroner speaks, and crystallises, the usage into the specific individual addressed: “your brother”.

These are poems to read slowly, to reflect on. We hope you enjoy reading them over and over.


New Welsh Review
New writing from Wales.

Seren Books
The major Welsh literary publishing house. Also publishes Poetry Wales.

Kathryn Gray shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize
Archive news story from the BBC’s website.

Zoë Brigley on Welsh Poetry
An entertaining sweep through a 1936 perspective on the characteristics of Welsh poetry.

© George Ttoouli  
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