February 25, 2002
Welsh Poets to Read at Smith
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-The Poetry Center
at Smith College presents Welsh poets Gillian Clarke and Menna
Elfyn at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12, in Neilson Library Browsing
Clarke is one of Wales' best known and best loved poets and an
important voice for Wales and Welsh women in particular.
Born in Cardiff, Clarke studied at the University of Wales and
has worked as a broadcaster and news researcher for the BBC.
Her first book of poems, "Snow on the Mountain," was
published in 1972. She has since published seven major books
of poetry, several well-regarded children's books and translations
of her fellow Welsh poet Menna Elfyn. In 1997, Carcanet Press
published Clarke's "Collected Poems," a compilation
of her major work. Clarke serves as president of Ty Newydd, a
writers' center in North Wales which she founded in 1990.
The Times Literary Supplement praised Clarke's most recent book,
"Five Fields," saying, "Gillian Clarke's poems
ring with lucidity and power her work is both personal and archetypal,
built out of language as concrete as it is musical." Critic
Michael Hulse wrote, "Her poetry is arrestingly filled with
quiet beauty and clear insight, with visionary celebration and
elegiac power, and reveals a writer wedded to the world and the
word in equal measure."
Clarke's "Selected Poems" is one of the most popular
books of Welsh poetry; it has been reprinted five times in the
last ten years. Her work is studied by students all over Great
Britain. Clarke teaches creative writing at the University of
Glamorgan. She lives in Talgarreg, Ceredigion, with her husband
and their flock of sheep.
Poet and playwright Elfyn, who writes in Welsh rather than in
English, describes herself as a Christian anarchist. Critic M.
Wynn Thomas, director of the Centre for Research into the English
Literature and Language of Wales, calls Elfyn "one of the
most significant poets currently writing in Wales," adding
that "her conspicuous moral and political commitments are
always underwritten by her prior commitment to language."
Elfyn writes with passion of the Welsh language and identity.
Dense and elliptical, her poems restlessly search for the spiritual
within the earthly. Elfyn has published seven volumes of Welsh-language
poetry. Her most recent collections, including "Cell Angel"
and "Blind Man's Kiss," were published in Welsh-English
Elfyn has also written stage plays, television documentaries
and opera libretti. Her television work includes documentaries
on Vietnam and on street children. When not traveling the world
for readings or television work and theatre productions, Elvyn
lives in Llandysul, where she is currently editing a major anthology
of Welsh poetry in translation. "English," she affirms,
"has enabled me to travel the world and be understood, but
the Welsh language is my world."
Clarke and Elfyn's visit to Smith is supported by the Kahn Liberal
Arts Institute's "Other Europes / Europe's Others"
project. At noon on Tuesday, March 12, they will participate
in "The Two Tongues of the Dragon: A Debate on Poetry &
Language in Wales." For further information on this event,
call Rene Heavlow at (413) 585-3721.
The 7:30 evening reading will be followed by a book-selling and
signing. For more information about that event, contact Cindy
Furtek in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen
Doré Watson, director, at (413) 585-3368.
Both events are open to the public, free of charge and wheelchair