While most have for their smell the deep
entanglement of beer in nylon underlay,
this joint is scrubbed and temperance-sweet,
at least as far as the far corner where Gran
bequeaths her eternal stash of lossin dants.
There’s grandpa strangling the swan who dared
to take a nip at baby Alf, and right behind him
Uncle Alf, lean and in his prime, crooning Haydn
to a brace of pinnied sisters and the highwayman
who someone traced to someone’s distaff side.
There’s our Huguenot great-grandsire, slopping
in off the Pembrokeshire coast. He pontificates
on the elect, sticks out a hand to feel for rain,
moans his way east to Rhymney, and don’t
even get him started on the Treaty of Nantes.
They’re all in there, jammed like junked receipts
in a filofax. Beyond them there’s the Davies Suite,
and further back the Eveleigh, the Jones: dimly lit,
proliferating function rooms, packed with thatchers
and lay-preaching stiffs, each of them marrying in,
each of them thwacking upon the table their own
lame dowry of myth. Sunday visits. Suicides.
The gypsy someone had a tumble with, and hence
that auntie’s Persian eyes. They’re all there gossiping
as far as the dark back garden, ignorant of my love.
by Dai George
Notes from Seren:
Dai George is originally from Cardiff and now lives and teaches in London. He studied at the universities of Bristol and Columbia, NYC, where he completed his Master of Fine Arts in Writing in 2010. As well as poetry, his criticism has been published in a range of magazines including Poetry Wales, Poetry Review and New Welsh Review. He writes fiction and is working towards a historical novel on the Gunpowder Plot, with Ben Jonson as the central character. According to Roddy Lumsden, ‘Dai George seems to me to offer something new to Welsh, and to British poetry. In fact, perhaps the poet he most reminds me of is the leading Northern Irish poet of the newer generation, Alan Gillis, not in terms of direct stylistic commonalities, but in that both these poets can and do switch successfully between a higher, lyrical style and something closer to demotic narrative’. You can read more from The Claims Office on Seren’s site, watch Dai George read from his work on YouTube, and attend the launch of the book on Thursday 14 November at The Tea House Theatre, 139 Vauxhall Walk, London .
Seren Books (‘Seren’ means ‘star’ in Welsh) is based in Bridgend, South Wales. Originally conceived by Cary Archard and Dannie Abse as an offshoot of Poetry Wales magazine in the latter’s garage in Ogmore-by-Sea in the early 80s, under Managing Editor Mick Felton the press has gone from strength to strength and has published a wide range of titles including fiction (which under Editor Penny Thomas has seen the Booker-nominated novel by Patrick McGuinness, The Last Hundred Days, and an acclaimed novella series based on the medieval Welsh tales from the Mabinogion) and non-fiction (including literary criticism such as the new John Redmond title Poetry and Privacy, as well as sumptuous art books like the collaboration between photographer David Hurn and poet John Fuller, Writing the Picture). Seren’s poetry list, edited by Amy Wack since the early 90s, has produced T.S. Eliot Prize-nominated titles by Deryn Rees-Jones and Pascale Petit, Costa winner John Haynes, and a large list of Forward Prize winners and nominees, as well as continuing to publishing classic Welsh writers. Most recently, Seren has also added Irish and American writers to its list.
For more details about Seren, visit the publisher’s website, where there is a blog about Seren’s news and events. You can also find Seren on Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube, where there are videos of a number of poets reading from their work.
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.