With many thanks offered to International Dylan Thomas Day Coordinator Mab Jones and Literature Wales, I shall now begin to attempt to convey the many flavours of this event…
Links to vids of performances throughout this blog…see below
Performance sketches created during the event by Penarth based fine artist Pauline Williams…Event filming by Fritz O’Skennick…Photographs by Dave Daggers…Slideshow of International Dylan Day Promo images and images from previous MEGAVERSE events compiled by Will Ford and and produced by Terri Hoskings…All round superlative logistical support from Gordon Anderson and colleagues at Cardiff Central Library HUB. The Welsh and English posters advertising the Megaverse event at Cardiff Central Library by Gordon Anderson
For the first time since beginning to organise MEGAVERSE events I asked an ‘entry fee’ of contributors, in the form of ‘a piece of writing inspired in some way by Dylan Thomas, his work, his life, his themes, his spirit, poetic forms or whatever this challenge moves you to write’. As ever I was humbled by the enthusiasm of colleagues from the local (and not so local) spoken word scene, and what they and I wrote and performed for this event can be viewed via links in the body of this blog.
An open mic section was included in this Megaverse, to allow for anyone inspired by the event to share their words and in hope that some work created in the same space earlier the same day at the Dylan Thomas Cut Up Workshop could be shared at Megaverse. Some was!
As the planning developed, A feature performance by Aneirin Karadog became part of the event as did Dylan’s Great Poem (initially to be delivered by Aneirin, but ultimately performed by clare e potter and Rufus Mufasa, who judged the Literature Wales competition calling for contributions to the collaborative project and compiled the eventual poem from submissions that came from all over the world).
This Megaverse was divided into four sections over the course of two very packed hours in the Creative Suite on Level 5 of Cardiff Central Library…
Will Ford welcomes everyone…
To set the tone, I read an extract from ‘Laugharne’ by Dylan Thomas, recorded a few short weeks before his sad passing, which revealed him not as sad, but as alternately intensely poetic and humorous as his legend and work has portrayed him through the ages. My goal was to create the expectation of mainly, but not exclusively, reverent readings. Then it was time to talk less, host more and finally get things truly rolling, with…
Reading and rapping mostly in Welsh, Aneirin did not speak softly but definitely, literally, during his performance, carried a big stick, using it to thud out a rhythm on the library floor to underpin his raps, from the hip hop production Dylan Live. During this extended feature set he also shared work newly written for the event.
Aneirin Karadog, by Pauline Williams
clare e potter & Rufus Mufasa
With humility and performance skills in equal measure clare and Rufus traded (and chorused) bilingual lines from the third Dylan’s Great Poem created to honour the poetic icon of the day. In their roles as judges for the competition to contribute to the poem and editors of the eventual work they said they had hard choices to make about what to keep in or leave out of the poem, but the result of the process was performed joyously and can be read here
Rufus Mufasa and clare e potter by Pauline Williams
A section of short sets, with each performer including at least one Dylan Thomas inspired piece in their three minute slot. A challenge for all to rise to, including Pauline Williams, seeking to capture likenesses in double quick time…
Mark is no stranger to raging against the dying of the light in his self and life exploring writing, but his Dylan inspired piece was lighter fare, his lines bringing together Dylan Thomas and the Frankie Goes To Hollywood song Rage Hard!
No stranger to irreverence, the life affirming energy that Dave Daggers brings to all he does was brought to The Ballad of Bob Thomas, his tale of a forgotten folk singer who chose the wrong part of the Dylan Thomas name to take as his own…
Sometimes to be found in Prague, sometimes to be found studying creative writing, storyteller Gareth Davies spins a brief tale of a narrator who finds himself fawned over in New York by an avid Dylan Thomas fan who is impressed to have met someone from Wales with the name Thomas Dylan. The peril that develops as a result of the narrator amusing himself by lying about his name is only of the mildest nature, but all the same, sometimes having a private joke at someone else’s expense is all it takes for fate to decide a comeuppance is due to someone experiencing New York Insomnia
Known for the speed at which he can dash off a ditty, and indeed the speed at which he can deliver one, Neil’s Dylan related pieces included Dylan’s Inspiration, an at first sad, then sweet little verse about how his family (according to this rhyme at least) is tied up with Dylan’s creative routine, via mints made by Neil’s Grampa that Dylan sucked on to help him write.
Author of poetry collection Ssh! John Eliot was inspired by Dylan Thomas using the villanelle form and applied himself to crafting a villanelle of his own, St Augustine Grass. He followed this with a touching piece on the impermanence of this plane of existence, as experienced by Snowmen
Photographic artist and recent Creative Writing Degree graduate Terri Hoskings delights in losing herself in all forms of creative expression, her own and that of others, from all eras, and here she re-imagines her own family history into Beyond Milkwood, a Dylanesque mash up of poetry and harsh realities, hard people in hard times, surviving whatever the drudgery of domesticity and the indiscriminate discrimination of political ideology can throw at them.
Will Macmillan Jones
Since Will experienced car trouble that kept him in Swansea, I stepped in to read his Dylan inspired pieces on his behalf. The author of a series of comic fantasy books in the Terry Pratchett vein (The Banned Underground series) on this occasion left the punning and sarcasm behind and drove directly for poetic laments Darkened Doors, Out Across the Bay and I Dream of your Teeth in the Night. The picture of Will seen above was from a previous Megaverse and was part of the slideshow for International Dylan Thomas Day Megaverse, so while not physically present, Will’s words and face made it along!
Faces from the first hour of Megaverse by Pauline Williams
Dylan Thomas by Pauline Williams
Positioned to the right of the projection screen at International Dylan Thomas Day Megaverse, Pauline’s Dylan Kept a watchful eye on what was transpiring in his name, and the eagle eyed may spot the picture among the images included here…
THE OPEN MIC SECTION
Elaine Paton was Artistic director for Moment(o)s Of Leaving, a recent site specific promenade theatre piece with interactive elements exploring issues of mental health and the feelings associated with the impending closure of Whitchurch Hospital. She attended the Dylan Thomas Cut Up Workshop held in the Creative Suite prior to Megaverse and was happy to share her results from the process with us all.
Rachel also attended the Dylan Thomas Cut Up Workshop and was apologetic about reading a piece comprised of elements of two Dylan Thomas poems. But the experimental nature of the workshop was designed precisely to explore the results of combining different elements of Dylan Thomas and Rachel rather skilfully ‘remixed’ Dylan!
Mario Umberto Fiorillo
A regular face on the Cardiff open mic scene, Mario brought the event his signature style of imagery heavy, slightly surreal musings…
Spoken word performer and film maker Fritz O’Skennick delivered a piece on Welshness which, although written in English, used a traditional Welsh poetic structure! A busy day at the event for Fritz, also present in his capacity as occasional recorder of poetry events.
Neil Davies by Pauline Williams
Neil, having already delivered Dylan related material earlier on, signed up for the open mic section and read several poems from Defeating Cyril, his poetry booklet response to Parkinson’s Disease, blunting its sting by giving it the innocuous name Cyril and writing to and about it. The living embodiment of not going gentle…
A second section of short sets, with each performer including at least one Dylan Thomas inspired piece in their three minute slot.
Performing under his self selected banner of ‘Hooligan Poet’ Des Mannay performed several pieces, including the Dylan Thomas influenced A Child’s Purgatory In Wales. Pre-existing, rather than being newly written for the day, it totally fit the bill!
Des Mannay by Pauline Williams
Equally sweet and full of fire, Bryan delighted listeners as he always does!
Talented poet/singer/songwriter Fran Murphy fully embraced the celebratory nature of the day with a piece that was tinged with lament for the feelings of loss that affect us all, but in no way impinge on the poetic desire to capture beauty, to leave something of a Legacy
Clive’s dedication to poetry and performing it is amply demonstrated by the distances he travel travels across the UK to take part in events. Living in (but not from) Swindon, he has on a number of occasions made the trip to Cardiff for open mic nights and Megaverses. With his piece Dylan, he humorously reflects on how Bob, rather than the inspiration for Bob’s name was the Dylan his younger self considered worth favouring, and how he has come to feel differently since then. Cheers, Clive for your long distance travelling contributions to events like this!
Francesca Murphy, Bryan Marshall and Clive Oseman, by Pauline Williams
In her poetic guise as Philosophical Body Poet Fran Smith embodies her approach to her life and therapeutic work, conveying her view that striving to reach for the positive and for compassion , whatever life throws at us is the ideal to pursue, for our own health, mind, spirit and that of other humans and other animals. This perspective informs her take on the theme of raging against the dying of the light in her poem Hippocratic Oath. Seeking to ‘do no harm’ is certainly one way of seeking to fight the dying of the light as a lifelong goal for humanity itself, not just when our personal end is nigh!
Fran Smith By Pauline Williams
Will Ford by Pauline Williams
Having cheekily slipped my gravelly voiced ‘Batman at an open mic night’ comic verse Do Not Go Gently into that Dark Knight into the open mic section, I shared the poem I did actually write specifically for this event, The Shadow, a gothic-tinged piece loosely inspired by ‘Do Not Go Gentle…’ that treated the source with much more respect…and then, because she was not able to be there in person, I read out a poem by:
Bridget Leggy Tanner
Bridget (pictured here at a previous MEGAVERSE) offered the event a short, gentle piece that breezily told Dylan’s life story beginning with him first awakening in Swansea and ending with ‘Now he sleeps in Laugharne’
With a style traversing the crossover points between classic Beat poetry (itself influenced by Dylan Thomas) and the percussive patterns of rap, Zaru’s brew of pure heart, stream of consciousness, other worldly presence and pitch perfect performance was a truly fine conclusion to International Dylan Thomas Day Megaverse, and his Celtic Braid was a howl from the silenced souls of the Welsh voices historically prevented from speaking in their mother tongue.
Watch Will Ford read his piece written for the day, Will reading the words of Bridget Leggy Tanner, and then the final performer at this Megaverse, Zaru, plus closing words by Will Ford and Gordon Anderson
Many thanks to everyone for a truly diverse selection of spoken word
For International Dylan Thomas Day
Thank you, Pauline Williams for your sketchbook Alchemy
(contact the artist if interested in owning any of the images she created)
Cheers Fritz for doing the filming!
And though he might wave them off humbly, many thanks to Gordon Anderson for logistical, technical, promotional and all other support offered and fully delivered in making the use of the venue and the event itself a truly smooth experience
So, Literature Wales, Mab Jones, and everyone else deserving thanks for their efforts in making this event and others happen for International Dylan Thomas Day 2016…