Yesterday’s Tomorrow; A Graph Review

A Graph Review
60 with highpoints 70

YTimageYesterday’s Tomorrow

By Alun Rees.
Published by dinas, an imprint of Y Lolfa Cyf.

978 086243783 1

Published 2005,        paperback           £4.95

should still be available, maybe direct,        see: www.ylolfa.com

Alun Rees is now retired but worked as a journalist all his life.  A man of Merthyr and a founder member of the Red Poets, a group of Welsh, political, radical poets active with website, events and annual magazine.

The 38 poems for this collection were written between 1984 to 2004, some previously published and in some cases tweaked for this volume.

Consistently political and nationalistic from a red-blooded Welsh poet.  Radical Socialist member and persistent socialist, it would seem, to this very day.  The poems all burst with political history mixed with views of the hard scenery and the hard industrial and personal lives of the Welsh.  Radical in as much as angry at the Injustice of history to working class people, of people to people.  A big element is relating to Wales and the working-class but he is not blinkered and his concern frequently spreads much wider with the same energy and anger at world issues.  Of course, if you are Welsh, from Merthyr Tydfil, you  have good reason to take such a stance.  Throughout we are given images in a steadfast, straightforward storytelling mode.  Colour, force and wit thrive amongst all subjects and the various rhythms and balanced rhyme schemes make for voracious reading.

Poems of local streets and people.  The miners, to Cardiff and widening out to the world. Glimpses of prehistory, Revolution and Rorke’s Drift.  The crow finds its dark place too. The slightly gentler poems are Daughter, Ruin and Lost with the latter two moving and calmer but still true to his language and stance.  ( Ruin is ultimately a more common themes for poets but here Alun seems to be presenting, unusually, a  melancholic personal as well as political face.)

The last poem in this collection Dic Penderyn’s Farewell, is once again an indictment of English power over Wales and the last verse shows Rees’s  own position and that of his fellow travellers.

Lord, when you judge me, please recall
That I fought to ease my fellow’s plight.
I never had much, but I gave it all,
And I go alone into the night.
For me this has been a significant collection to read.  Evocative and emotional rides that bring images to a clear focus.  I am not Welsh but have visited and have always appreciated the countryside and its villages and towns, especially around the Valleys.  It all seems so, ‘Real’.  Why the shape and furl of some scenery is more evocative than others I cannot say but like the scenery of the Valleys, Alun Rees’s poetry will stand out as both pure Welsh poetry and true Socialism.  If one had a Complete Works to read and qualify there would be the worry that the almost continuous politicking nature would pall. However I also suspect, in fact expect, the actual variety and historic span of his poetry, mixed with the personal memoir and knowledge would create a most powerful document to the Welsh as a Nation and its working-class as representative of the world’s.
As always with new, favourite poets I find it hard to select a small number of examples but have to :

Valley Fighters;                   Cousin Glyn;                 Geese;             La Maja Desnuda;           The Cabbages of Maidanek;                                Daughter.
I am off to read more of Alun Rees and other Red Poets, and more as published by:  ylolfa

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Useful links

I sometimes add links to blogs but realised it would also be  useful to have them plus others on a single page.   They will be added to when I get  a round tuit (as they say) and no doubt may fall off over time.  Most will have links to other sites.   This ought to be a page not a post but it is a start.  Also havent yet checked the links work.  (Oh the shame of amateurism versus enthusiasm).  Many offer similar items such as poetical form but always the one you want.  Usually have examples, which is useful

There are thousands of sites and here but a sample………

All UK based (as far as aware)  unless country noted e.g. USA

blackbox manifold               Current poems and poets, online mag.  Uni. Sheffield site.

enotes.com             USA              A site for students and teachers.  Can be useful as a quick double/check on people and terms.      For full service there is a subscription.

Friends of Dymock Poets       Covers an area of beautiful countryside which attracted poets to live and visit, specifically supporting:  Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Robert Frost, Wilfrid Gibson, Edward Thomas

Guardian Poetry page            Regular articles and reviews from this Guardian site.

Ivor Gurney Society               Composer and poet:  often considered a war poet (WW1) but he considered music and song as his priority.

John Clare Society                 John Clare possibly positioned himself as a ‘peasant poet’  for public consumption of the day.  Wrote a huge amount of poetry and natural history notes.   It is now possible to visit Clare’s Cottage in Helpston.

literacyadvisor                        Based in Scotland but a blog that is interesting for teachers, primary plus as information and links that could be useful to all at some time.

literature Wales                      Focused interest, I first looked for inf. on Alun Rees

National Poetry Day             Part of Forward Arts Foundation, see site for full range.

Poetry Book Society              Founded in 1953 by T.S. Eliot and friends

Poetry Foundation                USA:  Putting poetry into American culture.  Publish online poetry magazine.

Poem Hunter                          assumed USA        As it says; good way of finding poets and poems of all description.  Includes audio poems.

poetry pf home page              North London based.  Regular events  and listing of current poets and poems.

Robert Bloomfield Society      poet 1766-1823.  author of  The Farmer’s Boy

Shadow Poetry                         USA:  Another useful site, covering many styles of poetry with examples plus other resources.

The Victorian Web                  a superb site for literature and history et al of the Victorian period

War Poets Association       UK:   A good listing of names and work of War Poets plus relevant events and comments.  Not restricted to  era.   Seems a reasonably new site and likely to be another.  Pleased to see Vernon Scannell listed.