How the Vining of Dylan’s poetry is panning out is amazing:
The different ways that people interpret lines, and the collaborative effect of putting it all together sends a shiver down my spine every time I watch a poem. But I am guessing you are either born loving Dylan or not because my husband looks at me with utter disbelief whenever I rave about the latest poem that’s been completed. Ok, maybe not born, it was probably always there is the background in Swansea, and I definitely had a few really excellent English teachers who got us fired up about poetry and the way language sounds and slots together in ways that feel intuitively right and hits you in the guts. I wanted to read And Death Shall Have No Dominion at my Dad’s funeral, but it felt too powerful, like I wouldn’t have made it to the end, so I went for something safer. I regret that.
Dylan Thomas will always be special to me. I think Richard Burton reading UnderMilk Wood is one of the most out of body experiences ever, every single syllable feels so loaded and imperative. And Dylan’s ghost was a part of my growing up. The house where he lived was just a few doors away from where I spent many fruitless years traipsing back and forth to piano lessons, which sent me a rather nice message about great poets being totally normal people. And then of course there’s Cwmdonkin Park, where The Hunchback in the Park – the poem Charlotte contributed to – was apparently set. That felt completely right. So many teenage years were spent hanging around there. A park in the hill, looking at the sea, we didn’t know how lucky we were.
This was in the days when everything pretty much shut on a Sunday and youth clubs hadn’t really caught on in Swansea. The local pubs in Uplands were pretty laid back about serving us, but I can’t imagine we had much allure as customers making our snakebite and black last all night, and consequently fairly vast amounts of time were spent in that park, plotting the future, getting lost in the present. I have a bit of a thing about the life of parks, how they present this image of managed natural beauty, but contain this vast sublife of people passing through, and people who don’t really have anywhere else to go. I could go on for hours about this as I thought about it a lot walking various dogs: the characters you’d get to recognise and sometimes even know, the embedded knowledge about what went on in difference corners – subversive and innocence happily coexisting. I like to think that Dylan saw this too. I also think he’d enjoy the doublespeak of all these vines collected together and laid at his feet in gratitude and joy.
So today The Hunchback in the Park was complete, and you can see Charlotte’s Vine here. The expression on her face watching the whole poem was priceless, and has hopefully just come at a perfect time in her journey with poetry. It’s been exciting waiting for it, but just wonderful seeing how it all fits together, all those ‘Of course!’ moments when you hear a line said just perfectly. The project is nearly complete; five of the six poems are on-line and sublime. Poetry in motion even.