I would like to mention this new book of poems, edited by Martin Locock of Carreg Ffylfan Press, about a very special place in Wales, namely the area around the ruined Cistercian abbey of Strata Florida, also known as Ystrad Fflur. Strata Florida lies between Pontrhydfendigaid and the wonderful Red Bog of Tregaron in Ceredigion.
The abbey was founded in 1164. The Abbey Church, in the care of Cadw, is adjacent to the graveyard, which is still used for burials. According to tradition, it is the resting place of the 14th century Welsh language poet, Dafydd ap Gwilym, and a memorial to him can be viewed under a yew tree. This ancient yew shades the bodies of eleven princes of the Welsh Royal house of Deheubarth, who were also buried here during the 12th and 13th centuries. A stone marker in the Chapter House commemorates these princes.
It is always a thrill to arrive at the site and wander up the Great West Door to the Abbey Church. The carving around the archway frames the mountainous scenes beyond. The new anthology includes work inspired by this Ystrad Fflur landscape from 1350-2013. It includes illustrations by Linden Fletcher and photographs from Scott Waby.
I feel privileged to have a poem, 'Ist May: Red Kite at Strata Florida', included alongside works by - among others from past and present - Gwyneth Lewis (National Poet of Wales, 2005-2006), Gillian Clarke (National Poet of Wales, current), R.S. Thomas, Harri Webb and Byron Beynon.
The new book is available for purchase via the Carreg Ffylfan Press website. The cost per copy, inclusive of p&p, is £10.
|Memorial Tablet to the poet, Dafydd ap Gwilym|
|Beneath the yew tree|
|Red Kite ... overhead|
|David Gill taking photographs of a small grave in the churchyard|
|The yew tree|