The Roaring Boys

er cof Iwan Llwyd

Of all the poets I have known
it’s the Roaring Boys I remember
best; they roared through Canada
and the United States, they

roared through Germany and
France; they roared through England,
but best of all they roared through
Wales; they wrote on anything,

bits of paper, notebooks of a
special kind, the backs of their father’s
wills; they wrote even when they
reached the edge of the endless

sea; Death is unique, he has no mother
and God is afraid of him; when he
came for the Boys, Wait, one said,
I’ve an englyn to write; another

snatched him and kissed his beaky
lips; a last glass of cool white wine,
said a third; Death had visited Keats
and Jeffers, Wordsworth and Thomas

R.S., but the Roaring Boys, he said,
I will never forget; a disgrace to their
nation, and its glory, stumbling
through time like the road to a tavern

where the landlord has the glasses primed
because he knew they were coming
with a thirst and an appetite
as they burst through the sunlit doors.

by John Barnie

‘The Roaring Boys’ is copyright © John Barnie, 2012. It is reprinted from The Roaring Boys by permission of Cinnamon Press.

Notes from Cinnamon Press:

There is a sense of unburdening in The Roaring Boys – a confessional mode that is certainly present in previous volumes, but which here achieves a new plangency. It is all the more striking for butting up against the poets characteristic tonalities – an unsentimental lyricism, sharp with dissecting irony. That unburdening is carried by form: each poem is a single sentence in which concept, argument and emotion are controlled by the sluice gates of semi-colons. Dramas unfold across clauses that bridge voices, tones and timescales. Find out more about the collection on Cinnamon’s site here.

John Barnie is a poet and essayist from Abergavenny, Gwent. He lived in Denmark from 1969-1982, and was the editor of Planet, The Welsh Internationalist from 1990-2006. Barnie has published several collections of poems, mixed poems and fiction, and two collections of essays, one of which, The King of Ashes, won a Welsh Arts Council Prize for Literature in 1990. His collection Trouble in Heaven (Gomer, 2007) was on the Wales Book of the Year 2008 Long List and his previous collection with Cinnamon Press is The Forest Under the Sea. John Barnie plays guitar in the bilingual blues and poetry group Llaeth Mwnci Madoc/Madoc’s Moonshine. He is a Fellow of Yr Academi.

Cinnamon Press is an independent publisher run by a family team and based in North Wales and the Midlands. We select books that we feel passionate about and concentrate on a list of poetry and fiction titles into which we put maximum effort at every stage of development. We also run regular writing courses and writing competitions, including major awards for poets, novelists and short story writers and a series of mini competitions. Find out more about the publisher and join their mailing list here. You can also find Cinnamon on Facebook and on Twitter.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.