For anyone coming to my talk on Tuesday ( or anyone not ), there's a drama about the last days of Dylan Thomas tonight on BBC2. Why not watch and then pop along to Waterstones at 1pm to hear me tell you what they got wrong ( I don't know yet, I haven't seen it either ).
The good news for those of you hoping to listen to Owen Teale at the talk at Waterstones on Tuesday, the format has changed, and now we'll each be doing a talk followed by a Q & A. Bad news for me, I have to take a chainsaw to my talk to get it down to under 30 mins. Bye bye to 'In My Craft or Sullen Art' and 'Our Country', but hello 'Love in the Asylum'. I'll add an extra page after the event and hopefully youtube or podcast the full talk as it would have been.
Whether it be for a book or a talk, proof reading is always a key priority kids. Case in point, my crib sheet notes for my DT talk summarised for me how the poet is often either loved or hated, rarely neither. Thanks to Belinda for pointing out what I probably meant to write was 'Marmite Poet'. And NOT... 'Bovril Poet'. Hmmm. I was actually subconsciously referring to the beefy verse and sense of the forties nostalgia. Probably.
First dry run of DT talk given to my spider plant tonight. 80 minutes. Way too long. And the plant fell asleep when I talked about Auden. Time to cut and redraft I think. The spider plant liked one of the poems and one of the descriptions of Thomas by his colleague Julian McLaren-Ross though, so we'll keep those bits in. The plant's name is Peter Parker.
It’s quite difficult knowing what to include in a talk, particularly one on a subject you’re passionate about. A part of you wants to include every fact you know and take advantage of your captive audience by force feeding them your knowledge and enthusiasm. Must… resist… urge…
I only have about 45 minutes, including readings, and being in the Waterstone’s café I have to try and stop the audience wandering off bored with me. I need to select the things which will interest people most, the choicest poems or extracts, and at the same time balance specific and important facts about Under Milk Wood with the fact possibly most of the audience don’t know that much about Dylan Thomas.
Still tinkering but very sadly, and I mean very sadly, I think I’m going to have to omit my favourite Thomas poem. ‘The Force That Through The Green Fuse Drives The Flower’ is possibly the perfect example of a certain type of writing he delivered best. Heavily influenced by Blake’s ‘The Sick Rose’, it perfectly demonstrates Thomas’s mastery of combining soundscapes of poetry with the sense, just out of conscious reach, underneath them. I used it as part of an English lesson for Spanish teenagers once (about imagery in English, and the different use of descriptions), partly to see if their reaction to the complex imagery was different to native speakers. Their reaction was strikingly similar, a lovely response being along the lines of ‘I like it, and I think I almost understand it, but I couldn’t explain it’. What more could a poem ask? The mighty Burton reads it below for anyone who doesn’t know the poem.
If this kind of thing doesn’t float your boat and you’re wondering whether to come along, be re-assured I am currently writing the bit about the dirty jokes, booze and women as well.
My talk on Under Milk Wood will be taking place at Waterstones, Liverpool 1 on Tuesday 20th May. Details can be found on the facebook page at Under Milk Wood.
Thought I'd add a pop culture link inspired by Dylan Thomas's poem 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night', as I'll be mentioning it in my talk.