Poet Glyn F. Edwards presents one of the fruits of his time as Poet in Residence at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse in Laugharne this last October.
In August 1944, Dylan Thomas wrote to his close friend, the poet, Vernon Watkins, about the house in New Quay he had moved into with his family. Neither the month, nor the location seem pertinent, for the poem attached to the letter was the ‘Poem in October’. Dylan described the poem, about his Laugharne walk through and over the cloudlike Sir John’s Hill, as ‘a month and a bit premature’ and seemed proud of this first ‘place’ poem:
I do hope you like it, & wd like very much to read it aloud to you. Will you read it aloud too? It’s got, I think, a lovely slow lyrical movement.
Together with the poems ‘Poem on my Birthday’ and ‘Over Sir John’s Hill’, it is one of Thomas’ few pieces rooted in Laugharne and rich in its colours and its nature. It is perhaps, Thomas reflective on the eve of his birthday, nostalgic over his three decade and hopeful.
On each day of my residency at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse, I selected a new stanza from ‘Poem in October’ and challenged visitors to explore the imagery involved in it. Each visitor was given their own individual image and, by considering the specific effect Dylan was attempting, drew their own interpretation. Many guests responded in verse to their given simile, some branched away in a tangent of travel writing, some extended Dylan’s metaphor. The Young Person’s Laureate, Sophie McKeand, built an improvised poem using Thomas’ lines as its climax, the poet John Bilsborough devised a lethal-witted weather report.
At the end of the week, I tracked the 2016 version of Dylan’s poem back along the route of his ‘Birthday Walk’, filming the images as Dylan may have experienced them. Although there were almost one hundred respondents to the activities during the week, this short video comprises the work of forty such visitors. It was a privilege to share a unique week with people similarly content to indulge in Dylan’s home, the story of his birthday and in curiosity of how he viewed the world.
You can read Glyn’s blog of his residency at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse here