All entries for Tuesday 27 February 2007

February 27, 2007

Catriona O' Reilly on Gwyneth Lewis

“Gwyneth Lewis’s ‘Zero Gravity opens with a remarkably distinguished sixteen-part title sequence. The poem is subtitled ‘A Space Requiem’ and commemorates three events, the space-voyage of an astronaut cousin, the arrival and departure of a comet, and the death of a close relative. Lewis’s formal skill is in evidence as she brings these occurrences into a meditative tension in which the astronaut’s still-miraculous endeavour is compared to the unkowability of a woman’s death:

Her voyage is inwards.

Now looking back

is a matter of passing events.

She makes for the dark

of not being human.

“The poem’s strength lies in its intelligence and unflinching emotional honesty, which is too rigorous to permit easy consolations. In Section 11 Lewis writes:

Its vapour trails

mimicked our voyage along ourselves,

our fire with each other, the endless cold

which surrounds that burning. Don’t be fooled

by fireworks. Its no accident that leave

fails but still tries to rhyme with love.

“Among the many impressive features of Lewis’s work is a directness which is tempered by instinctive formal ability and an engaging quirkiness of vision. Her unsentimental animal poems are a fine example of this, particularly the unassuming but remarkable little poem ‘Prayer for Bandy’ which in its impact must rival anything Theodore Roethke produced. Lewis is unafraid to deploy a whole spectrum of feeling and has all of the technical gifts to do it. Her wit in such poems as ‘Will and the Wall’ is sophisticated and immensely enjoyable, as is her frequent use of the couplet, employed to fine effect in the satirical ‘hermits’:

It drives me wild,

so crowded are these blessed isles

with would-be saints who all deny

the flesh in more outrageous ways.

I want to be indifferent as stone.

I demand to be holy all on my own.

“Zero Gravity is a worthy successor to Lewis’s first English-language collection, Parables and Faxes. We await her third with impatience.”

Reference
From O’Reilly, Caitriona: ‘Reviews: Possibilities of Vision’. PN Review (Manchester) (25:4) [March-April 1999] , p.79-80. Literature Online.


Bibliography – Gwyneth Lewis

Gwyneth Lewis

Evans, Geraint: “Crossing the Border: National and Linguistic Boundaries in Twentieth-Century Welsh Writing” Welsh Writing in English: A Yearbook of Critical Essays , (9), 2004, 123-35. (2004)

Lewis, Gwyneth. Gwyneth Lewis in America (Interview with Katherine Gray). New Welsh Review. Vol. 70. 8-13.

Lewis, Gwyneth. Negotiations (Interview by Ian Gregson). Planet: the Welsh Internationalist. Vol. 173. 50-56.

Lewis, Gwyneth.: On writing poetry in two languages Modern Poetry in Translation (7) 1995, 80-3. (1995

Lewis, Gwyneth. Tenuous and Precarious: The Comic Muse Poetry Review. (Fanfare for the Comic Muse). 88.3 (Autumn 1998).

Lewis, Gwyneth.: “Remembering R. S. Thomas.” Times Literary Supplement, 6 Oct. 2000, 29. (2000

Lloyd, David: “English - Parables & Faxes by Gwyneth Lewis” World Literature Today (70:2) Spring 1996, 408-409. (1996)

McElroy, Ruth.: ”’For a mothertongue is a treasure but not a God’: Gwyneth Lewis and the dynamics of language in contemporary Welsh poetry.” Journal for the Study of British Cultures (12:1) 2005, 39-53. (2005)

O’Reilly, Caitriona: Reviews: Possibilities of Vision PN Review (25:4) March-April 1999, 79-80. (1999)

Poole, Richard.: “Gwyneth Lewis in conversation.” PN Review (23:3) 1997, 50-5. (1997)

Poole, Richard. Gwyneth Lewis talks to Richard Poole Poetry Wales . Vol. 31:2 (1995), 24-9.

Price, Angharad: “Travelling on the Word-Bus: Gwyneth Lewis’s Welsh Poetry” PN Review (25:5) May-June 1999, 49-51. (1999)

Rees-Jones, Deryn. Editorial (on Welshness and Englishness). Poetry Wales. Vol. 32.1 (October 1996).

Rhydderch, Francesca: ”’Cur dwbl [y] galon’ (The Double Beat of the Heart)” New Welsh Review: Wales’s Literary Magazine in English , (11:1 [41]), 1998 Summer, 18-20. (1998)

Ward, JP. Editorial . Poetry Wales. Vol. 14.1 (Summer 1978). 3-4.

Williams, Nerys.: Gwyneth Lewis: taboo and blasphemy Poetry Wales (38:3) 2002, 23-8. (2002)


Web Resources on Gwyneth Lewis

Gwyneth Lewis

General Information
Contemporary Writers
Poetry Book Society
Welsh Literature Abroad

Poems
Aphasia
A Wooden Spoon for the WRU
Field Visits
Happy Flamingo
Nervous Breakdowns
What’s in a Name?

Articles by Gwyneth Lewis
A giant of poetry
Beating the Black Dog
Caught Between Two Cultures: An Article in The Guardian
I can never know if I did the right thing
The Cruel Sea
Wizard

Gwyneth Lewis

Articles About Gwyneth Lewis
Ruth McElroy on Gwyneth Lewis for Planet
Swept Away

Radio
How to Knit a Poem
Not England
Poetry Please
Reading from Two in a Boat on BBC Radio
The Verb
Twenty Minutes
Word of Mouth

Poems In Literature Online
For these links you need an Athens password.
Spit it Out
Pentecost
Pluck .


'Dolphin' by Robert Lowell

Robert Lowell

My Dolphin, you only guide me by surprise,
a captive as Racine, the man of craft,
drawn through his maze of iron composition
by the incomparable wandering voice of Phèdre.
When I was troubled in mind, you made for my body
caught in its hangman’s-knot of sinking lines,
the glassy bowing and scraping of my will. . . .
I have sat and listened to too many
words of the collaborating muse,
and plotted perhaps too freely with my life,
not avoiding injury to others,
not avoiding injury to myself—
to ask compassion . . . this book, half fiction,
an eelnet made by man for the eel fighting—

my eyes have seen what my hand did.

(From Collected Poems )


...

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