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In the Graveyard of Verse

William Wootten: Vernon Watkins

9 August 2001
The Collected Poems of Vernon Watkins 
Golgonooza, 495 pp., £16.95, October 2000, 0 903880 73 3Show More
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... image of Watkins as a hard-working, pleasant and largely irrelevant anachronism to prevail, and for poets and critics to forgive him, by forgetting how in the 1930s and 1940s, under the influence of DylanThomas, he was an eager perpetrator of New Romanticism. Watkins was at Repton and Cambridge with Christopher Isherwood, and makes a cameo appearance as the gullible Percival in Lions and Shadows ...

A Terrible Thing, Thank God

Adam Phillips: Dylan Thomas

4 March 2004
Dylan ThomasA New Life 
by Andrew Lycett.
Weidenfeld, 434 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 297 60793 6
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... Kingsley Amis called DylanThomas’s life, the life told by Thomas’s first thorough biographer Paul Ferris, ‘a hilarious, shocking, sad story’. Thomas was very important to the Amis-Larkin club partly because he seemed determined not to be seen to be taking anything, including himself, too seriously. In 1941, Larkin refers to Thomas coming to the ...

Stitched up

R.W. Johnson

21 October 1993
Return to Paradise 
by Breyten Breytenbach.
Faber, 214 pp., £17.50, November 1993, 0 571 16989 9
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... long drinking bout that make up this book. The notion of a famous literary figure on an inebriated progress across a continent has a certain raffish hilarity to it and once produced a study called DylanThomas in America. This book is a sort of ‘DylanThomas in Africa’, with the difference that Breytenbach has written this one himself and cares about the continent he’s travelling through and ...

The Powyses

D.A.N. Jones

7 August 1980
After My Fashion 
by John Cowper Powys.
Picador, 286 pp., £2.50, June 1980, 0 330 26049 9
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Weymouth Sands 
by John Cowper Powys.
Picador, 567 pp., £2.95, June 1980, 0 330 26050 2
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Recollections of the Powys Brothers 
edited by Belinda Humfrey.
Peter Owen, 288 pp., £9.95, May 1980, 0 7206 0547 4
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John Cowper Powys and David Jones: A Comparative Study 
by Jeremy Hooker.
Enitharmon, 54 pp., £3.75, April 1979, 0 901111 85 6
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The Hollowed-Out Elder Stalk 
by Roland Mathias.
Enitharmon, 158 pp., £4.85, May 1979, 0 901111 87 2
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John Cowper Powys and the Magical Quest 
by Morine Krissdottir.
Macdonald, 218 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 354 04492 3
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... general reading public. My own father, a suburban civil servant, had half a dozen volumes of T.F. Powys, but I, though liking the author’s way with words, could not see the point of his stories. DylanThomas’s broadcasts similarly appealed to my father (‘the bullish fields,’ he would say, savouring the words), and it was DylanThomas who ‘sent up’ T.F. Powys so memorably on the BBC Home ...
23 April 1987
Selected Literary Criticism of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Alan Heuser.
Oxford, 279 pp., £19.50, March 1987, 0 19 818573 1
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... work didn’t issue from Auden’s overcoat; it is time to remove it from the simplifications of literary history and acknowledge that he had his own voice. The second reason is dubious. I agree with Thomas Kinsella’s view, in his Introduction to The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse (1986), that a ‘Northern Ireland Renaissance’ is ‘largely a journalistic entity’. Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, John ...

Everything is good news

Seamus Perry: Dylan Thomas’s Moment

20 November 2014
The Collected Poems of Dylan ThomasThe New Centenary Edition 
edited by John Goodby.
Weidenfeld, 416 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 297 86569 8
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Under Milk Wood: The Definitive Edition 
edited by Walford Davies and Ralph Maud.
Phoenix, 208 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 724 5
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Collected Stories 
by Dylan Thomas.
Phoenix, 384 pp., £8.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 730 6
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A Dylan Thomas​ Treasury: Poems, Stories and Broadcasts 
Phoenix, 186 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 726 9Show More
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... DylanThomas’s​ foredoomed premature death feels intrinsic to his late romanticism, part of what made him the ‘Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive’, as he labelled himself. But he could have escaped the legend to ...

Short Cuts

Thomas​ Jones: Dodgy Latin

20 February 2003
... this is a man who “will not go gentle into that good night”, but will “rage, rage against the dying of the light”.’ I don’t think unleashing mayhem on the grand scale was quite what DylanThomas had in mind. For a more fitting refrain, we could do worse than look to Cato the Elder: Carthago delenda est (repeat ad nauseam ...
12 March 1992
HMS Glasshouse 
by Sean O’Brien.
Oxford, 56 pp., £5.99, November 1991, 0 19 282835 5
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The Hogweed Lass 
by Alan Dixon.
Poet and Printer, 33 pp., £3, September 1991, 0 900597 39 9
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Collected Poems 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £18.95, November 1991, 0 85635 923 8
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... Imagism was replaced by the socially-conscious, deliberately objective poetry of the Thirties. When that was killed off by the war the vacuum was filled by the extravagant romanticism associated with DylanThomas, George Barker and Edith Sitwell. Less than a decade later, with those roses seen as over-blown, Robert Conquest was deploring ‘the omission of the necessary intellectual component from ...

On Nicholas Moore

Peter Howarth: Nicholas Moore

23 September 2015
... Moore, he had begun to publish poems in his teens. Though his father had sounded out the Hogarth Press, Nicholas looked like he could manage very well on his own. He edited Seven, an early venue for DylanThomas and the New Apocalypse poets, but his real coup had been to get several Wallace Stevens poems published in Britain, much to Stevens’s pleasure. Meanwhile, his own poems kept coming, and by ...

The Style It Takes

Mark Ford: John Cale

16 September 1999
What’s Welsh for Zen? The Autobiography of John Cale 
by Victor Bockris.
Bloomsbury, 272 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 7475 3668 6
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...  could they all have been on Dr Collis Browne’s mixture in their infancy? To be able to play the classical repertoire, to compose orchestral pieces, to write scores for ballets or settings for DylanThomas poems, however, is well beyond the competence of other stars in the firmament, even Paul McCartney. There have been various, normally embarrassing attempts by rock groups, or ex-members of ...

Roaming the stations of the world

Patrick McGuinness: Seamus Heaney

3 January 2002
Electric Light 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.99, March 2001, 0 571 20762 6
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Seamus Heaney in Conversation with Karl Miller 
Between the Lines, 112 pp., £9.50, July 2001, 0 9532841 7 4Show More
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... In a shrewd and sympathetic essay on DylanThomas published in The Redress of Poetry, Seamus Heaney found a memorable set of metaphors for Thomas’s poetic procedures: he ‘plunged into the sump of his teenage self, filling his notebooks with druggy, bewildering lines that would be a kind of fossil fuel to him for years to come . .  ...

O Wyoming Whipporwill

Claire Harman: George Barker

3 October 2002
The Chameleon Poet: A Life of George Barker 
by Robert Fraser.
Cape, 573 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 224 06242 5
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... to . . . cultivate an attitude which would enable you to observe the prosperous parade of more facile and accommodating talents.’ This Barker was unable to do. He was highly aware of his rivals, DylanThomas in particular, and fashion-conscious in ways that were not always helpful; his experiments with surrealism around the time of the 1936 exhibition were unsuccessful and his attempts at a ...

Making up

Julian Symons

15 August 1991
Lipstick, Sex and Poetry 
by Jeremy Reed.
Peter Owen, 119 pp., £14.95, June 1991, 0 7206 0817 1
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A poet could not but be gay 
by James Kirkup.
Peter Owen, 240 pp., £16.95, June 1991, 0 7206 0823 6
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There was a young man from Cardiff 
by Dannie Abse.
Hutchinson, 211 pp., £12.99, April 1991, 0 09 174757 0
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String of Beginners 
by Michael Hamburger.
Skoob Books, 338 pp., £10.99, May 1991, 1 871438 66 7
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... but there seems no need to make a to-do about it. The young man from Cardiff’s collection is a bit of a rag-bag. Part One contains stories round and about schooldays, readable enough but not up to DylanThomas as a young dog. In Part Two ‘The Scream’ gives us Dannie (all right, the narrator), now a medical student, thumbing a lift to Cardiff from a lorry-driver. They stop at a sinister little ...

Self-Extinction

Russell Davies

18 June 1981
Short Lives 
by Katinka Matson.
Picador, 366 pp., £2.50, February 1981, 9780330262194
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... of view, for the notion of the Holy Fool comes readily to hand: a respectable disguise for the subtly belittling anecdote casting the artist in the role of perpetual adolescent. Nobody doubts that DylanThomas died of drink and a regressive, infantile personality: but the thing that is remembered about his last days is a remark (‘I’ve just had 18 straight whiskies, I think that’s the record ...

Smartened Up

Ian Hamilton

9 March 1995
Louis MacNeice: A Biography 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Faber, 538 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 571 16019 0
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... riven by self-doubt, by the awareness that ‘If it were not for Lit. Hum. I might be climbing/A ladder with a hod.’ Post-war, he wanted to be a fire-tongued sage and seer, like his BBC colleague DylanThomas. MacNeice worshipped Thomas and did not, we trust, live to read Dylan’s description of his work as ‘thin and conventionally-minded, lacking imagination and not sound in the ear ...

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