‘Do go; these are very special occasions.’ Bridport Review
Dylan Thomas: life and work
A talk with readings by Graham Fawcett
Thursday 5 September 7.30pm
Tickets: £12.50 or £30 with dinner from 5.30/6pm
Please phone 01308 459511 to book now!
‘I was royally entertained’ Annie Freud
Swansea’s most famous son, poet Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1953) is most famous for “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “And death shall have no dominion“; the ‘play for voices’ Under Milk Wood; and stories and radio broadcasts such as A Child’s Christmas in Wales and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. He became widely popular in his lifetime and remained so after his premature death at the age of 39 in New York City. By then he had acquired a reputation, which he had encouraged, as a “roistering, drunken and doomed poet”.
Graham Fawcett writes:
The first time I came across him was while reading ‘Fern Hill’ aloud, pacing the room, hoping (though not meaning to) that some of the pastoral Dylan stardust of having been so ‘honoured among wagons’ that he was ‘prince of the apple towns’ might rub off on a Londoner. The second was a glimpse, from the bus window, of the poet’s boathouse just outside Laugharne in Carmarthenshire, on the way to an Iron Age hill-fort dig overlooking Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Pendine Sands and a week of non-stop rain.
Dylan happens to people like that, steals up on them so that they have to drink his poems with him and he buys all the rounds. That, and the sound of the poet’s indelible voice on the page and on record, and meeting, at the 1970 Poets’ Conference at the Railway Hotel in Cardiff, a roomful of poets all of whom had known him, and then being pleasurably flooded by the music of the poems’ challenging meanings, make Dylan a ‘total immersion’ read which no-one need justify, because he sang as he heard, and that is that.
Over the years, Dylan’s poetry has collected hangers-on falling over themselves to vent their condescensions on him. Tousle-haired and childlike he may have been, and breathtakingly exploitative of his friends to boot, but even this Londoner can say that he thinks he knows a bard when he hears one.
Dylan Thomas Night will trace the Dylan voice back to its bardic roots in Wales and elsewhere. We will, and why not, attempt to sail through the poet’s life and work in a single evening, reading closely some of his finest and most deservedly celebrated lyrics and unveiling the rewardingly enigmatic twists and turns of some of those less often read and talked about, and ask ourselves what, beyond the pleasure of the Welsh weave of English words, they may mean, or mean to us. You will leave having had more of a chance to understand what links there are that matter between the work and the life, and so to discover whether, in future, you would be the more likely to sing the praises of the work to anyone who cares to listen.
GRAHAM FAWCETT has lectured or led workshops at literary festivals throughout Britain on reading and writing poetry. A highly entertaining lecturer, writer and educator, he has been a tutor for The Poetry School since 1997, devising and teaching new courses on poetry past and present from around the world. Previous to that he wrote and presented radio programmes about literature and music on BBC Radio 3 for many years.
Graham Fawcett’s talks explore leading poets, their lives, the political and cultural environment in which they wrote and, most of all, their work. The programme is two 45 minute halves with an interval.
Enjoy a delicious light pre-lecture dinner served by the celebrated and award-winning Café Sladers. For £17.50 you can enjoy a full main course from a menu of seafood, free-range meat and vegetarian dishes. Let us know if you have special dietary requirements. A wonderful selection of wines, desserts and cheese are available à la carte.
Please phone 01308 459511 to book your tickets now.
“We [the audience] were more than happy to stay the course, stunned and astonished in equal measure. Stunned by the breadth and depth of Fawcett’s criticism, astonished at our luck to be living miles from a university yet participating in what, to all intents and purposes, was a post-graduate lecture, presented with immaculate complexity by a master of ceremonies par-excellence.”