Monday 27 October 2014

Dylan Thomas - Centenary Celebrations

Dylan Thomas would have been

 100 today

 Monday 27 October 2014

Dylan Thomas outside the Dylan Thomas Theatre, Swansea

I lived in Swansea for nearly twenty years and was able to visit the heron-priested shore at Laugharne on numerous occasions. I had the privilege of meeting Dylan's daughter, Aeronwy Thomas Ellis, a few times. I attended one of her poetry workshops at the Laugharne Festival.

Dylan's 100th Birthday has been the cause of worldwide celebrations, and it seems a fitting tribute to throw links to a number of these ...



Number 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, birthplace home of Dylan Thomas

Saturday 25 October 2014

Poetry and Pilgrimage ~ an ECAT Writers' Day at the Cathedral

The St Edmundsbury Cathedral tower through the ruins

I have just returned from the cathedral at Bury St Edmunds, where I attended the latest in a series of ECAT (Edmund Centre for Arts and Theology) days.

Our Diocese has been celebrating its centenary this year, and a number of events have been planned under the title 'Pilgrims in Time'.

The Dean, the Very Reverend Frances Ward, presented a number of poems with a pilgrimage or journey theme before handing over to Sarah Friswell, the Cathedral PR and Media Officer. Sarah led us round the Cathedral, pointing out the significance of a number of features such as the font and tower. We were given the chance to think about Bunyan and Pilgrim's Progress. We began to discuss and attempt to formulate the difference between a 'guided tour' and a 'pilgrimage tour' in the session before lunch.

Dr Elizabeth Cook, the first Writer-in-Residence at the Cathedral, led a wonderful poetry workshop in the afternoon. Once again we had the opportunity to look at some journey and pilgrimage texts. Matters such as the place of community chatter (as in The Canterbury Tales) and the role of silence were considered. It was soon time to put pen to paper, and I think all the participants will have gone home with new material and a number of poems in draft.

This is the third ECAT day I have attended, and each one has offered a fascinating insight into the relationship between art (in the broadest sense) and theology. My thanks to all who make these days so rewarding, enjoyable and worthwhile.

  • An account of a previous ECAT poetry day from Elaine Ewart's FlightFeather blog.

I did a little personal reading in advance of today's workshop and soon began to realise that the notion of 'Christian pilgrimage' has many applications in the church. An outward journey (for example to the Holy Land) usually runs along parallel lines with an internal journey of faith. Some Christians, however, would adhere to the view that the only journey of significance is one through time (as opposed to a physical journey) as lives are lived on earth with hearts set on what Bunyan's character, Pilgrim, called 'the Celestial City'. I was surprised (in a positive way) to discover that the eighteenth century Puritan theologian, Jonathan Edwards, preached a sermon entitled 'The Christian Pilgrim'.  

Tuesday 14 October 2014

The Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition Lunch 2014

It was lovely to join with members of the Suffolk Poetry Society and the 2014 Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition prize-winners for a celebratory lunch at the Wentworth Hotel in Aldeburgh. 

The judge was Gregory Warren Wilson (second from the left in the above photo) and the winning poem by David Healey (fourth from the left) was about a particular swan feed at WWT Welney, a place I know well.

Swans at WWT Welney


Saturday 11 October 2014

Poetry Workshop at Writers' Centre Norwich

I have just returned from an excellent afternoon at Writers' Centre Norwich. The poetry workshop was the first of two, with one session on the coast (today), led by Rebecca Goss, and the other on the land, which will be led by Esther Morgan

I have come back with the beginnings of three poems, and am looking forward to taking these further. Writers' Centre Norwich is a wonderful resource, and we were amused to find that the packets of biscuits on offer bore the name of Brontë!

On my return, David mentioned that Sir Andrew Motion had released his 10 Tips for 'being a successful poet'. You can read them here

Thursday 2 October 2014

National Poetry Day - in Suffolk

Ian Griffiths, Florence Cox and Sue Wallace-Shaddad

We had a great time marking National Poetry Day here in Suffolk. Ian Griffiths (Chairman of the Suffolk Poetry Society), Sue Wallace-Shaddad (Secretary), Florence Cox and I teamed up to read poems in Waterstone's, Ipswich. The next Pop-Up poetry performances took place in two venues in Woodbridge, namely the library and Browsers' Bookshop. Ian and Florence continued on to the coast, where their last poetry stop was in Aldeburgh.     

The theme was 'remember', which afforded plenty of scope. My thanks to Florence for her 'pop-up' car cafe, which offered elevenses in the form of lemon torte to hungry poets on the move.

Ian, Florence and me