Celebrating International Dylan Thomas Day 2021
by Vatsala Radhakeesoon
(Editor and Organizer for Vatsalaradwritingworld)
Hello poet friends and literature-lovers!
I’m one of the representatives of Immagine and Poesia (Italy-based literary and artistic movement) founded under the patronage of late Aeronwy Thomas, daughter of Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas.
May 14th marks the anniversary of the first small cast reading of Under Milk Wood on stage at the 92Y in New York ,1953 with Dylan Thomas as the narrator. Thus, 14 May has been assigned as International Dylan Thomas Day.
Upon the approval of the official UK team from Dylan Thomas Trust and on suggestion of the Editor Lidia Chiarelli of Immagine and Poesia, I have the pleasure to organize Dylan Thomas Day on my blog for the second time.
Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea, South Wales on 27 October 1914. His popular poems are “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” and “And Death shall have No Dominion”. Dylan Thomas died in 1953 at the age of 39.
Thomas’s poems are poignant and they have been able to explore and reveal the depth of the subconscious mind.
A few months ago I posted a call for submission for contemporary poets to send their own original poems as a tribute to Dylan Thomas. I’m really glad to have received submissions from international poets of our time and I have the greatest pleasure to publish them on this blog today. This year, I have arranged the poets’ works by keeping a balance between simple and complex ones.
I express my sincere gratitude to all talented poets who have sent their well -crafted works. Many thanks to Hannah Ellis( granddaughter of Dylan Thomas), Andrew Dally, David Evans and Lidia Chiarelli for their support, encouragement and help in organizing this event on my blog.
Hope you will enjoy reading the following poems and continue to support Dylan Thomas’s works.
by Michael R. Burch
after the sprung rhythm of Dylan Thomas
Here the recalcitrant wind
sighs with grievance and remorse
over fields of wayward gorse
and thistle-throttled lanes.
And she is the myth of the scythed wheat
hewn and sighing, complete,
waiting, lain in a low sheaf—
full of faith, full of grief.
Here the immaculate dawn
requires belief of the leafed earth
and she is the myth of the mown grain—
golden and humble in all its weary worth.
Author’s Note :
I believe I wrote the first version of this poem towards the end of my senior year of high school, around age 18 in late 1976. To my recollection, this is my only poem directly influenced by the “sprung rhythm” of Dylan Thomas (more so than that of Gerard Manley Hopkins). But I was not happy with the fourth line and put the poem aside for more than 20 years, until 1998, when I revised it. I was still not happy with the fourth line, so I put it aside and revised it again in 2020, nearly half a century after originally writing the poem.
Michael R. Burch’s poems have been published by hundreds of literary journals, taught in high schools and colleges, translated into fourteen languages, and set to music by twelve composers.
WORM’S HEAD, RHOSSILI
by Rhys Hughes
on the tiny hill
at the end of the causeway,
stranded by high tide and waiting
for it to recede again so he might escape
back to normality. But there’s no
normality in the whole land,
only the devilish
gusts of icy wind
that bite the exposed flesh
of wrists and throat that poke out
of cardigan warmth. Next time he’ll check
the tide times and plan a crossing
with more care, he’ll boast
laugh that’s more
like a dragon’s bite in the
way it sounds, a legendary snarl,
but now his knees are drawn up and fears
gnaw gently on his spirit’s bones,
a man alone, far from home,
musing on a stone,
Rhys Hughes is the author of many books, short stories, articles, plays and poems. He graduated in Engineering but now works as a tutor of Mathematics. His most recent book is the novel “The Pilgrim’s Regress”, a fabulist comedy set in Old Spain.
by Michael Bishop
The first thirteen planks of A Refusal
to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child
in London constitute a single down-
dropping sentence, like a noose leaping up
short of the majesty and burning of
its subject’s extinction beneath the gallows
of Dylan’s opening two stanzas and the first
plank of its third. In this fatal suspension
he abjures any recourse to commas or
hyphens. As if loops and pointed sticks appall
his sense of the aborted innocent’s
existence. As if compound descriptives like
mankind making and Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling set before
darkness to radiate it with no punctuation
whatsoever could reunify the ruins
inflicted on a bolt-stung city’s hapless
casualties, whether man woman or bairn,
even if his titular slain urchin London’s
daughter was the freest of any injury
infliction of that lot during those nightly
Nazi blitzkriegs. I shall not murder, Thomas
tells us in the second load-bearing sentence
of his scaffold, The mankind of her going—
although had she lived to adulthood she
might have preferred humanity as a species
specifier amidst her shrouded long friends
and frank blasphemy to her eulogist’s
self-flattering discretion in declining
to smutch with further Elegy the dignity
of her annihilation by adopting
in another plank of his platform the grief-
gainsaying timelessness of the unmourning
water Of the riding Thames. Then nails a
twenty-fourth timber to the full shebang:
After the first death comma there is no other.
Whoa. Is that filigreed blather or an oaken
spear of warm sagacity?
It’s just Dylan, friends,
a stick of Easter dynamite to pipe our unspeakable
Michael Bishop’s novels include No Enemy but Time (1982), winner of a Nebula Award, Unicorn Mountain (1988; revised 2020), winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and Brittle Innings (1994), winner of a Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel. He has also published reviews and essays as well as story collections, notably Other Arms Reach Out to Me: Georgia Stories (2017), winner of a Georgia Author of the Year Award in 2018. Later this year, Fairwood Press will publish a retrospective gathering of his short fiction (stories no longer than 3,000 words) and several brief poems with narrative elements, A Few Last Words for the Late Immortals (2021). Years and years ago, Bishop wrote his Master’s thesis at the University of Georgia on the poetry of Dylan Thomas. More recently, on November 5, 2018, he was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.
To Dylan Thomas
by Mitali Chakravarty
He said Death shall have no dominion.
Bones dissolve into sun, moon and stars.
Death shall have no dominion.
Yet the flowers wither with grief
As smoke curls from a pyre
While the man crumbles to ashes
And dust. The sun, moon and stars
Gather the smoke with the soul,
Pinning it to the sky with a styrofoam clip.
Another star is born. Life and Death.
Grief is Incongruent. And yet he said,
Death shall have no dominion.
Hades smiles as Hiroshima blasts.
The Earth weeps tears of atomic wastes.
Hibakushas* mourn their lost. Does now
Death have a dominion?
*Atomic bomb survivors with the kimono imprints on their bodies.
Author’s Note: A tribute to a great Welsh writer who continues to inspire and make us think. These lines are inspired by Dylan Thomas’s poem ‘Death shall have no Dominion’.
Mitali Chakravarty is writer and the editor of Borderless Journal. She has been published widely in journals and anthologies. She writes and translates for harmony, humanity and kindness and looks forward to a world beyond all borders
The Man from Swansea
by Chris Hemingway
Dashing as a Welsh
Young man should
Look, by your charming nature
And sense of adventure, there is
That the world remembers you as
Humble, daring, and full
Of life. You lived by your own rules and your
Memories live inside
All of us
Chris Hemingway is a librarian from East Haven, Connecticut, United States. He is the author of
The Day the Bull Lived And Other Poems.
The Word Lover
by Gloria Keh
The other night,
as we undressed
the words of our desires.
Our secret meetings
would soon come to an end.
For again, he would leave
returning across rolling waves
to his wife,
We fell in lust
one cold grey evening
in the dark depths of winter.
A season of heated passion
so wild and free.
night after night
before the fierce flames
of a glorious fire.
Only to end
He carressed my body
but mostly engulfed my mind.
I rushed into his web
seduced by his stanzas
a slave to his words.
Our days became nights
Our nights melted into eternity.
And then one day
as leaves turned red
falling onto the earth
in burnt golds and browns;
when the chilly winds of autumn blew
without mercy nor respect,
from the cold sea
singing to a sad melody,
he was no more.
I watched from a distance
as they moved his body.
That body I craved
That body I worshipped
That body that was the heart of me.
Today, so many talk on and on
about his genius.
About his love affair with words.
Oh yes, I still remember
how he had that incredible way
But that was nothing like the way
he had with me.
Born in Singapore, Gloria Keh, 69, has been writing for decades. Having spent most of her adult life working as a travel journalist, then as an editor and finally as an editorial consultant for Singapore’s airport magazine.
Gloria also worked as a copywriter with one of Singapore’s top advertising agencies, writing brochures for the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board and Singapore Airlines. In addition, she was the South East Asian correspondent for several international travel trade magazines.
Three of her self-illustrated travelogues won the prestigious PATA American travel writers award for three consecutive years.
Also an artist, Gloria enjoys writing poetry that’s accompanied by her art. She conducts art journaling.
A Quintessential Star
by Juliet Preston
A quintessential star
comes only once in a million years.
Born a scorpio sign,
a life resembled exactly the scorpion constellation in the night sky.
Dylan Thomas, a notoriety shaped by distinct brilliance.
A legend exhibited by
his magnificent genius,
A drunkard tormented by
his shadow self.
Had fate placed him in a wrong place at a wrong time,
or fortune did not favor the Welsh’s famous son?
So many questions without answers.
Pain may have been inescapable,
but love was always plenty.
Love found its way in his
‘Osiris, come to Isis’,
‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion’
spoke of his rebellious soul even in the face of death.
‘The Map of Love’ granted
a poetic licence for his adolescent indulgence,
marking the culmination
of rage echoed in
‘Do not go gentle into that good night’.
O darling Dylan Thomas,
your magnificence and apocalypse glow every time
when the scorpion displays in the starry sky.
Juliet Preston is an engineer by profession. She considers herself to be a poet at heart and an artist by passion.
Really It is My Own Stupidity
by Robin Wyatt Dunn
Really it is my own stupidity
Education a kind of paring down
An endless series of beatings
Sparta made crueler and more enduring
Their double kings
Made quadruple or quintuple
Arcane bollocks collapsing onto my chest
The lesson that I am unable to learn
The test unending
year and year
minute by minute
slapping you across the face
“You haven’t learned yet!”
The lore is so deep
And I am unable to dive
I drink only from its edges
It will kill me
Robin Wyatt Dunn was born in Wyoming in 1979. You can read more of his
works at www.robindunn.com.
by Heath Brougher
We fingered the hives for honey to boil.
It was summer after all and, despite the frost,
and because the sleeping man
said she would ring the stars,
the tottering seasons have turned womb-warm
and painted our faces with mustardseed sunlight.
We fall awake from eunuch dreams
to deliberately contradict ourselves
with the every sentence we utter
in the blood drop’s garden of portraits
of the artist as a young God—
the same place the straw man was ripped
into a dozen maggot-barren wreaths.
We know well this red-eyed earth
will eventually allow a punctual
dying of the light and we will, once again,
rose-red fall back into our unhouses in the ground.
An ode to Dylan Thomas using images from his poems to make a statement on the contradiction often found within his work.
Heath Brougher is the Editor in Chief of Concrete Mist Press as well as poetry editor for Into the Void Magazine. His work has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Award and he was the recipient of Taj Mahal Review’s 2018 Poet of the Year Award. He was recently awarded the 2020 Wakefield Prize. His works can be found in both print and online journals across the world.
Red Bay of Bengal, west of Java, north of Madras
By Sekhar Banerjee
If I dismantle this red evening over Pondicherry
and Madras bit by bit,
it is an old oil painting, its frame was gilded
by the last European carpenters off Coromandel coast
and if I break up its deep red space, step by step,
of red air, red bougainvillea, red trees, red people, red salt beds,
red balustrades just in front of the promenade
and Bay of Bengal, also red,
where the Java-bound ships and their merchants went beyond
their call of duty – now all lost red ships are still floating
in the red Bay of Bengal, west of Java, north of Madras,
and every lost drummer, sad like us, drums up
enough red from their parchment drums,
and the whole of south India,
mystified and upset, finally knows the sun has gone down
to return again
We now know nobody can ever touch his own edge
of all things, past and present
and that, nothing can be shared except our own fallacies
at a later stage
It is the limit of the red sky that our eyes can behold,
frame by frame,
devoid of any nuts, screws and bolts and shame
when the sea froths are crimson;
Earth’s blood (group unknown) is splattered on the sky,
sea and on the clouds nearby
Without a definition
of the evening as evening, without a definition of time
as time, without a definition of sea and the sky without a frame,
here the evening is dying without
an obituary and a good name; the (hooded) night, yes,
as if an authorized agent of change, has murdered it again
without any provocation
I know somewhere down the road,
there must be an official witness’ box
and an ancient observer’s bench,(a tourists’ kiosk
in most cases) to attend to this daily ritual of death
Author’s Note: This poem has been written in appreciation of Dylan Thomas’s works on death and, subsequently, on life.
Sekhar Banerjee is an author. He has four poetry collections and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. His works have been published in Indian Literature, The Bitter Oleander, Ink Sweat and Tears, Kitaab and elsewhere. He lives in Kolkata, India.
Seize the Night
by John Thieme
I hear the rasping cries of lovers
through my sullen wall of doubt.
I hear their midnight moans of ardour.
I take a draught to drown them out.
I yearn to capture them in quatrains,
that sidle passion into verse,
but I’m a frozen attic statue,
garroted by their rampant curse.
And so they move forever forwards,
unheeding all my moonshine arts.
Intoxicated by dull thoughts of hemlock,
I try once more to snare their hearts.
John Thieme is a Senior Fellow at the University of East Anglia, UK. He previously held Chairs at the University of Hull and London South Bank University and has also taught at the Universities of Guyana and North London, and as a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Turin, Hong Kong and Lecce. His academic books include Postcolonial Con-Texts: Writing Back to the Canon, Postcolonial Literary Geographies: Out of Place, The Arnold Anthology of Post-Colonial Literatures in English, and studies of Derek Walcott, V.S. Naipaul and R.K. Narayan. He is currently working on a study of climate change fiction and hopes to write a cli-fi novel himself. His creative writing has been published in Argentina, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Malaysia, Mauritius, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA, and his collection Paco’s Atlas and Other Poems was published by Setu Press (Pittsburgh) in 2018.
by Nell Jones
Dark days, few reminisces,
My burning skin,
the world is in your light.
Valiant sun, touch the grainy sky,
Wrap me in your cloak,
Raise up your voice,
In this cathedral, of blazing star shine,
Breathe softly in my ear of,
How you found me here.
I count the stars,
Smooth your skin,
My sky is your sky,
My hand, is your hand and the
Scars I have scraped roughly on your jaw, weaken,
For night has come so elegantly.
This is our final congregation,
On the eve of the fated choir,
The wretched night will steal my confession.
Flame the burning skin,
Let your breath pass over me,
Wither the deceitful warmth,
Beguile in its glow.
Your hills are a woman’s body,
A faded figure that appears,
Lying perfectly, on the darkened landscape.
Disguised on the horizon,
A force drives me towards you and so,
I count the stars on your back,
Each one glowing as you sleep.
Under this heavenly cathedral,
I retreat into the new and misty down,
I fall below your feet,
On this dusk’s long day,
Concealed by the vapour of the Milky Way.
You are still young, like the day,
In harmony with the rushing morning,
I drink my wine, sipping on,
The intoxicating freedom while,
You cheat with the lights turned on.
The breakfasts on the tray,
I kneel upon the alter, to listen for
The warble of the curlew and the welcome of the crow,
The magpies rippling white wings,
That burst through the misty brew,
And settle on the fever of dotted colours,
on the morning dew.
An undertaker calling to his mate,
The quickening quiet,
On the heavy hue,
Drops of rain touch my words,
To tell you,
I was here in this black dark day.
Nell Jones (Daniella) was born in Adelaide in 1964. She has Dutch and Welsh heritage. Writing since the age of 12, Nell had her first play, Dead Man’s Alley, a work focused on the plight of homeless men living on the streets of Melbourne, performed at the Nimrod Theatre, Sydney, a second play, The Blind Forty, set on the Torrens River during the Depression in Adelaide, performed at the Seymour Centre, Sydney. She has been the recipient of a Master Writers Grant, from the Australia Council and has written several other plays for youth theatres and schools, as part of her role as a drama teacher and director in those organisations. Nell has published many works over the years, including Jack and Lily, a chronicle of short war stories and poetry. Nell’s first novel, The Lost Sister of Groningen, based on the life of her mother in WW2 and 1950’s Australia, was launched at the Tap Gallery in Sydney in 2010. It was later launched at the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival in 2011. Her second novel, A Token for Perry was launched by Libby Hathorn in Sydney at the 371 Gallery Marrickville. Her poetry volume, The Sky Is My Religion was also launched in Ubud Reader’s and Writer’s Festival in 2012 and with the support of the UWRF, was opened by Australian writer Libby Hathorn. Nell performed her poetry daily with Balinese musicians and dancers in an art space in Ubud, with paintings that were specially created to reflect her poetry volume. At the opening she performed with Balinese dancers and a 30-piece orchestra as part of the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival celebrations. Nell has two degrees in education, and is currently working on her third novel, Patience Perry. Nell lives by the sea in Newcastle, Australia and in 2021 has retired from teaching and is a full-time writer. She is concurrently writing a play, The Voice of the People.
Please go to her website to find out more:
Literary Legend of Wales
by Margaret O’ Driscoll
I stood outside Dylan’s childhood home
his words emanated from within
I sat in peaceful Cymdonkin Park
pictured him playing there as a child
I strolled along Swansea’s streets
saw haunts he liked to frequent
On his beloved sweeping Swansea Bay
Cockle pickers scanned the sands
Out at Mumbles where he spent happy hours
I watched laver gatherers on the rocks
At West Glamorgan’s green farmland
seeds of Fern Hill were sown
Legend of Wales although gone too soon
His literary legacy is evergreen.
Margaret O’Driscoll lives in West Cork; Ireland. Her poetry and nature photography have been widely published internationally. Selections of her poems have been translated into many different languages.