Dannie Abse joins Welsh Cultural Embassy Wheatsheaf event!
Parthian are delighted to announce than the legendary author, playwright and poet Dannie Abse will be joining our literary event at the Wheatsheaf in Fitzrovia, London on April 6th. The afternoon will begin at 2pm with readings by two young debut authors Daniel Tyte (Half Plus Seven, Parthian Books 2014) and Rhian Elizabeth (Six Pounds Eight Ounces, Seren Books 2014), before we'll later be joined by some poetic types, including the emerging poet Jonathan Edwards (Seren Books), recent Planet Essay Prize winner / 2nd place Terry Hetherington Prize 2014 winner Sion Tomos Owen, and, of course, the night’s special guest - Abse himself. Finally, we will be launching Kit Habianic's debut 1984 miners’ strike novel Until Our Blood is Dry (Parthian Books) at approximately 4pm.
Dannie Abse was born in Cardiff in 1923. Though a doctor by profession, he has simultaneously had a long and successful writing career; He has published some sixteen books of verse, including After Every Green Thing (1948), Funland(1973), Ask the Bloody Horse (1986), Arcadia: One Mile (1998) andRunning Late (2007), and has also written a number of prose works, which include Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve (1954) and A Poet in the Family (1974). He was also made president of the Welsh Academy of Letters, the national association of writers, and edited the anthologyTwentieth Century Anglo-Welsh Poetry (1997).
Two of Abse’s acclaimed texts, the autobiographical Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve and his biography Goodbye, Twentieth Century, have been published by the Library of Wales, the latter in an expanded and revised form, as was the Poetry 1900–2000 anthology, which features ten of Abse’s poems. (Some of which you’ll undoubtedly hear on the night, and one of which you can read below!) Widely acclaimed for its warmhumour, lyricism and honesty, as well as its accurate evocation of the thirties, Ash on a Young Man's Sleevehas become a sung-after classic. In this delightful autobiographical novel, he skilfully interweaves public and private themes, setting the fortunes of a Jewish family in Wales against the troubled backcloth of the times - unemployment, the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, and the Spanish Civil War. Meanwhile, his rich mixture of Welsh and Jewish backgrounds, and his dual occupations of doctor and author, have led to what is widely regarded as one of the most readable, humorous and poignant autobiographies available today. Goodbye, Twentieth Century incorporates his acclaimed first volume of autobiography, A Poet in the Family, and in this new edition from the Library of Wales brings his life up to the present day and the outset of a new century. It includes a moving epilogue that speaks of his recent years which brought tragedy and dramatic change to his life.
Returning to the Wheatsheaf event this coming Sunday, entrance is £5 on the door. Social good times shall continue into the night, although the venue may switch as night falls. All queries can be sent firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the Facebook event here.
'Epithalamion' by Dannie Abse
Singing, today I married my white girl
beautiful in a barley field.
Green on thy finger a grass blade curled,
so with this ring I thee wed, I thee wed,
and send our love to the loveless world
of all the living and all the dead.
Now, no more than vulnerable human,
we, more than one, less than two,
are nearly ourselves in a barley field –
and only love is the rent that’s due
though the bailiffs of time return anew
to all the living but not the dead.
Shipwrecked, the sun sinks down harbours
of a sky, unloads its liquid cargoes
of marigolds, and I and my white girl
lie still in the barley – who else wishes
to speak, what more can be said
by all the living against all the dead?
Come then all of you wedding guests:
green ghost of trees, gold of barley,
you blackbird priests in the field,
you wind that shakes the pansy head
fluttering on a stalk like a butterfly;
come the living and come the dead.
Listen flowers, birds, winds, worlds,
tell all today that I married
more than a white girl in the barley –
for today I took to my human bed
flower and bird and wind and world,
and all the living and all the dead.