How to Write Anglo–Welsh Poetry by John Davies
It’s not too late I suppose…
You could sound a Last Post or two,
and if you could get away with saying
what’s been said, then do.
First, apologise for not being able
to speak Welsh. Go on: apologise.
Being Anglo-_any_thing is really tough;
any gaps you can fill with sighs.
And get some roots, juggle name like
Taliesin and ap Gwilym, weave
a Cymric web. It doesn’t matter what
they wrote. Look, let’s not be naive.
Now you can go on about the past
being more real than the present -
you’ve read your early R.S. Thomas,
you know where Welsh Wales went.
Spray place-names around. Caernarfon.
Cwmtwrch. Have perhaps a Swansea
sun marooned in Glamorgan’s troubled
skies; even the weather’s Welsh, see.
But a mining town is best, of course,
for impact, and you’ll know what to say
about Valley Characters, the heart’s dust
and the rest. Read it all up anyway.
A quick reference to cynghanedd
always goes down well; girls are cariad;
myth is in; exile, defeat, hills…
almost anything Welsh and sad.
Style now. Nothing fancy: write
all your messages as prose then chop
them up – it’s how deeply red and green
they bleed that counts. Right, stop.
That’s it, you’ve finished for now -
just brush your poems down: dead, fluffed
things but ayour own almost. Get
them mounted in magazines. Or stuffed.
in Wales: the Imagined Nation, Studies in Cultural and National Identity. Ed. Tony Curtis. Bridgend: Poetry Wales Press, 1986. 66-67.