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'Curse, bless me now': Dylan Thomas and Saunders Lewis

Chatterton Lecture on Poetry, delivered by Professor Tudur Hallam, on 24 October 2014 (venue: The British Academy).

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More often than not, Dylan Thomas, the Swansea-born writer of English, and Saunders Lewis, the Wallasey-born writer of Welsh, are set in differing discursive camps – entrenchments of their own design, some might say, or perhaps their fathers’. Memorable quotations – ‘I cannot read Welsh.’ ‘He belongs to the English.’ – continually drive them apart. Yet these two writers shared not only similar experiences, locations and a host of literary influences – e.g. Yeats, Eliot, Freud, hymns, Hamlet – but also an understanding that poetry must ‘work from words ... not towards words’, energised by form. Were they right? If so, what now? A fleeting handshake in no-man’s land?

About the speaker:
Tudur Hallam is Professor of Welsh at Swansea University. His specialisms include comparative poetics and canon formation. Recent work relevant to the lecture include his chapter in Slanderous Tongues: essays on Welsh poetry in English: 1975-2005 and his monograph on Saunders Lewis’ plays, Saunders y Dramodydd.

Image: Photograph of young Dylan statue courtesy of Mr Chris Reynolds.

More about the Chatterton Lectures on Poetry

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