BLOG Gwen Davies

NWR Issue 99

Mark Tredinnick at Aberystwyth

At Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 19 March, Mark read, to a packed bookshop, poems from his first collection, Fire Diary, including ‘Dying, and How to Survive It’. He also read from NWR 97, his Cardiff International Poetry Competition winner, ‘Margaret River Sestets’. And a striking bird poem (one of many in his ouevre), ‘Lyre, Lyre’ from his pamphlet The Lyre Bird, and a new poem, dedicated to English department teacher Katherine Stansfield, from his forthcoming collection of this year, ‘Blue Wren Cantos’.

The most interesting aspect of audience discussion covered ‘white guilt’, writers needing to allow themselves permission to belong (to landscape, to country), and the degree to which other Australian writers, such as Tim Winton and Patrick White, may be defined by the European in their culture above the Australian. On Wednesday morning, Mark taught a master-class to Aberystwyth University English & Creative Writing postgrads plus stray editors. Said stray editor particularly enjoyed the as-yet unpublished ‘Soft Bombs’, a poem uncharacteristic for its short line length, as Fire Diary is in a wide format designed to accommodate Mark’s usual winding lines, influenced by Charles Wright: 'I look / Up at jacaranda blossoms, suicide / Bombers in party dressess, fallen over- / Night on the skylight in the rain.'

We were in Cariad expresso bar on Thursday, the morning of Mark’s departure to Oxford Literary Festival. He clearly had enough to take in already, what with the pile of Traveline Cymru itineraries I’d printed out for him (Swansea-Cardigan on Good Friday looks a tricky one on public transport). Keeping my cool and wanting to seem Welsh and intellectual, I recommended Mark look up Gwyneth Lewis, firstly for the influence of Welsh on her English, and secondly, for her love of birds, as proven by her latest collection, Sparrow Tree. I'm sure Menna Elfyn, when she meets Mark at the Carmarthen workshop next Tuesday at Trinity Saint David's, will be able to fill him in on cynghannedd.

These are among the finest (long) lines of Mark’s that I’ve heard over the last few days, ‘Lyre, Lyre’ from The Lyrebird:

All afternoon the lyrebird sweet-talks the forest in every voice the forest knows. She talks dirty / and easy as you please along all the mossy streambeds, // and all the way up the roughbarked treeferns into the ashen canopiesof gums: she whispers everyone else’s lines / in your ear at the top of everyone else’s voice. She lights the green silence....

Mark continues his tour of Wales, visiting Carmarthen (Monday & Tuesday 25 and 26 March), Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea (Thursday 28 March) and Cellar Bards, Cardigan (Friday 29 March). There is also a write-up in the Tivyside mid-week for west-Walian fans. Full details of Mark’s remaining dates are here

NWR’s Mark Tredinnick Wales tour has been made possible with support by Literature Wales, the Dylan Thomas Centre, the University of Glamorgan and the Department of English & Creative Writing & the Arts Centre, Aberystwyth University. Special thanks to Katherine Stansfield & Sara Penrhyn Jones

Katherine Stanfield's feature-length interview with Mark Tredinnick is here

Sara Penrhyn Jones' film of Mark Tredinnick reading 'Stopped by the Road at the End of the World' at Aberystwyth University is here

Four more audio poetry recording's of Mark's poems are at the Poetry Archive


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