Tuesday, 18 November 2014

On hearing singing in Tintern Abbey, 07/09/2014

Having written a poem about Llanthony Abbey I took quite a lot longer to write a poem about Tintern. I decided to go for a more abstract approach and kept in mind the work of Joseph Mallord William Turner, a view of the Abbey from upstream composed in 1828. I also thought a second poem about a ruin would just sound like the first and that might have...ruinous consequences...so me, my girlfriend, and her dog took off in Randolf the Red (my van) on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon in early September on a Muse Mission to Tintern. I didn't want to go into the Abbey itself as I have done this countless times, but wander around on the opposite bank of the river and see if the Muse might come out and play! so, the three of us were mooching along when all of a sudden the sound of a choir, singing inside the Abbey, came to us bouncing off the river, faint, haunting. The omens were on.

On hearing singing in Tintern Abbey, 07-09-14

Song, a séance of everything body,
cutting mind and soul from soft ligatures,
we sink our fleets in stone belted harbours
and swim in a hope of drowning slowly;
the occult of our marked anatomy
expanding to the ilk of nebulas,
a moon in a thaw of pregnant fetters,
new oceans aligning to gravity.

The river is a song of human skin;
a constant touch in a flux of itself
into the weightless need of swimming blood.
Cooled viscosity suddenly climbing
under thinner water to nowhere else.
A prayer answered
                               in the one place it could.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The ruin of Llanthony Prima

I am involved in a nationwide project called, Cyfoeth Cymru Gyfan, Sharing Treasures, which is a government backed scheme headed up by Amgueddfa Cymru, National Museum Wales. The enterprise takes the form of two exhibitions running in Abergavenny Museum, and Chepstow Museum until the end of September. The museums are hanging artwork inspired by the Abbeys at Llanthony and Tintern; artists such as, the Buck brothers, Palmer, Turner, Dayes, Hodges, Sandby, Tudor, Grimm, Buckler, Piper, Craxton, Ravilious, Jones, Gill, and many, many more. Also featured are the work of Walter Savage Landor and William Wordsworth.

These exhibitions are possibly the biggest to land at the museums, and are a huge cultural event for Monmouthshire. The seclusion and beauty of these once remote valleys of Monmouthsire really burst from the works and encourage a sense of communion with the elements and light.

I am a volunteer guide at the exhibition in Abergavenny, and I ran a workshop with learners on the Arts Award scheme about ten days ago, and in September I will be spending time with pupils at those schools closest to the Abbeys. To prepare for this I have been crashing in my van, Randolf, up at Llanthony in order to garner inspiration to write in order to offer examples of my own to the budding poets I will be working with. Their work, inspired by the Abbeys and the artwork in the exhibitions, will be displayed in a follow up exhibition in October. This scheme is called Sites of Inspiration.

I have written a rhyming haiku, and a villanelle. The haiku has a bit of a story. St Davids Church, Llanthony, is still in use today and is a sweet little place. Apparently the foundations are laid to the sunrise on March 1st! as you step out of the porch, the ruin of the Abbey rises to meet you.

On leaving St Davids Church, Llanthony

A laying of stones
to a saint and a sunrise.
The valley has bones.

The ruin of Llanthony Prima, 2014

Peace that builds to sleep in the driving ear
breaking from stones laid down in cordoned faith
cleanses the eyes when daylight starts to veer.

Worship begins when only stars can steer
or stones launch the blessing of their own grace,
peace that builds to sleep in the driving ear.

Round angles of valley bring the sky near
flooding light to colour in streams that race
so eyes are cleansed when daylight starts to veer.

Thimbles of light, glutting the moonless stair
trim the ruin into a looming wraith
and the peace builds sleep in the driving ear.

Elements of nature in spate will clear
monuments built above their simple base,
so cleansed eyes see when daylight starts to veer.

Binding interludes of light bladed air
thrill the blood to climb from unfeeling wastes
Peace that builds to sleep in the driving ear
cleanses the eyes when daylight starts to veer.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Wa-Hay Festival

Here is a shot of me posing in front of a replica of Dylan Thomas' writing shed. The thing is decked out exactly as he had it! I have had the whole "Light breaks where no sun shines..." rumbling through my brains all day!
Light breaks where no sun shines
Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953
Light breaks where no sun shines;
Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart
Push in their tides;
And, broken ghosts with glow-worms in their heads,
The things of light
File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones.
A candle in the thighs
Warms youth and seed and burns the seeds of age;
Where no seed stirs,
The fruit of man unwrinkles in the stars,
Bright as a fig;
Where no wax is, the candle shows its hairs.
Dawn breaks behind the eyes;
From poles of skull and toe the windy blood
Slides like a sea;
Nor fenced, nor staked, the gushers of the sky
Spout to the rod
Divining in a smile the oil of tears.
Night in the sockets rounds,
Like some pitch moon, the limit of the globes;
Day lights the bone;
Where no cold is, the skinning gales unpin
The winter’s robes;
The film of spring is hanging from the lids.
Light breaks on secret lots,
On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain;
When logics dies,
The secret of the soil grows through the eye,
And blood jumps in the sun;
Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Ondine: a poem.

I watched a sweet film called Ondine last weekend. It stars Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, and Alison Barry. Directed by Neil Jordan, the film came out in 2009. The music of Sigur Ros, also new to me! features in the film

The film is steeped in Selkie myth; a creature of the sea that can come on land after shedding their seal coat and taking on human form, often beguiling. The original 'Ondine' was found as a small child abandoned on rocks and brought up by a fisherman. The story escalates into love and tragedy. Selkies often return to the sea, many after digging up their buried coat. In the Neil Jordan film suggestions are also made to seven years and seven tears being a cut-off point.

The film inspired me to write my own take and this is what I came up with:


Leaving the deeps with her voice and her coat
her singing haunts all the pretty fishies
to do as she and quit the buoyant seas.
She crams his pots with a charm from her throat;
besotted lobsters craving every note.
Shoal in the net flood the deck to a squeeze;
cool bodies and a steel quick to bellies.
Stone on stone on the scale nudge up a hope.

He lands his catch for lingerie and frock
and town steps out in a pretty rumour
of the secret he knows he cannot keep.

Her buried coat and the movement of clocks.
Gossamer moments spinning together
her seven years and her seven tears to weep.

I found some nice art work by Annie Stegg: 

 This is the Sigur Ros piece that accompanies the film:

Friday, 4 April 2014

Film action.

Here are some moving pictures of my life a couple of summers ago...a little bit of spoken word as well!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

I found a sweet project on twitter today set up by Art_Accross_The_City/@Lowcs_Art. A megapoem to celebrate the Dylan Thomas centenary. Anyone can post a ditty. There are currently six pages of writing, and contributions are limited to 140 characters. I didn't create an account before I uploaded my rhyme, so I am not credited, but I like the anonymous angle. This is what I came up with over my boiled eggs this morning:

A teeter in the terrace
and a dream out of kilter,
we lift steel from the furnace.

I think I will have a bash at a few more lines after demolishing the roast beef I have just banged in the oven.

Saturday, 1 March 2014


A poem I performed at a Literature Wales event today in Neath. Happy St Davids day.


Naked feet shooting pains of devout guilt
we grind the sacrosanct barnacle furze
only in places. Bearing no burrs,
over a fathom deep, more beautiful gilt,
damson dark, we mash. Pale bodies so spilt
we see moonlight shot the interiors;
clamps, grow on grow kept them from predators.
We strip timid so many ways to tilt.

Bewildering seizures of thrill wake us,
cut scalpel clean,
                            painless from everything,
every fibre
                                      of ocean.
I rise to what a full moon uncovers,
rip from the water-line
                                     ample feasting,
     my humility