The Urgency of Identity: Contemporary English-Language Poetry from Wales

David Lloyd, Editor
David Lloyd, Editor Triquarterly Books $14.95 (244p) ISBN 978-0-8101-5007-2
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
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This anthology brings together work by more than 15 Welsh poets who, apart from R. S. Thomas, are little known in the U.S., and includes interviews with poets and critics that place the poetry in the context of Welsh politics and culture. Central to that culture is a debate over language: Welsh is spoken by less than one-fifth of the population, but remains important to Welsh identity. Chris Bendon sums up the quandary of the Welsh writer writing in English: ``Someone speaks Welsh. Wales, (whatever that is) / becomes Wales again.'' John Davies gives a poetic, though perhaps not practical, solution: ``It takes / more than the one tongue to speak a country.'' Some of the common themes of Welsh poetry are nature, Wales's industrial past and economic hardships, and working the land. But although ``many of the poems / Carry the smack of loam,'' the younger poets here are innovators, too, influenced by other traditions than their own. Gillian Clarke's work stands out particularly, reminiscent of the metaphoric vitality of contemporary Irish poetry and the sensual frankness of the American. (June)
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