NWR Issue r2

Review 2

In the second of our exclusively online reviews supplements, Review 2, Michael Nott traces the history of photopoetry in Wales and beyond. His illustrated feature-length essay, ‘Slender Underpinnings’, explores how collaboration emerged from an artform that originated in the scrapbook, moved from straightforward descriptions of image by text, through descriptions of text by image (for example Julia Margaret Cameron’s edition of Tennyson) into the full-blooded marriage of poet and photographer in Ted Hughes’ and Fay Godwin’s Elmet books (1979 and 1994). Moving closer to home and uptodate, Nott looks at how our landscape is valued through photopoetry for its power to commemorate, particularly in books by poets and photographers including David Hurn, Philip Gross, Damian Walford Davies and Mererid Hopwood. He identifies publishing innovations in the genre, such as Gomer Press’ Beddau’r Beirdd/Poets Graves, which draws on a Medieval Welsh englyn tradition to introduce a ‘hitherto unrecorded aspect of landscape photopoetry’, and Gross and Simon Denison’s prizewinning I Spy Pinhole Eye, which places technology such as pylons central on the landscape’s stage as a means to celebrate the technical aspects of the photographic process.

Picking up the theme of photopoetry is Ashley Wakefield’s review of The Slate Sea, a volume edited by Paul Henry and Zed Nelson that celebrates the ‘three industries’ of the Conwy Valley (slate quarrying, farming and coastal tourism). Wakefield, like Nott, is alive to the danger that photopoetry books stay in their coffee table ghetto. She acknowledges that much of this book’s content presents a ‘familiar’ image of north Wales that is ‘nostalgically romantic’ but singles out for high praise the poems of Bangor poet Alys Conran, which are ‘quick-paced, densely packed [and] favour the visceral over the intangible.’

Also featured in Review 2: reviews of key summer publications from Seren and Parthian and nature memoirs by Jasmine Donahaye and Katharine Norbury.


previous editorial: Review 1
next editorial: Review 4


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