International Dylan Thomas Day is 14 May each year, and this year it coincided with the release of the new edition of The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas. Author Hilly Janes helped coordinate several events to commemorate the day, including a reading at Dylan Thomas' birthplace, and a book signing at a re-staging of Swansea And The Arts.
The festivities kicked off at Friday 11 May at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, the birthplace of Dylan Thomas. Perched on a hill, you could easily walk past it without knowing one of Britain's greatest poets grew up there. Hilly headlined the evening which featured a performance by Spanish guitarist Rafa Bocero, who sang 'Do not go gentle' in Spanish as he strummed a melodic beat. He played another Dylan -- Bob -- whose namesake influenced his work.
After an intermission where tours of the abode were given (on which I saw that Dylan's room was not much bigger than a phone booth), Hilly presented photos from The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas. The title of the book references three portraits that Hilly's father, Welsh artist Alfred Janes, painted of Dylan -- two during his lifetime and one finished posthumously. Each portrait represents a defining period of his life, one which proved to make an indelible impact on British poetry.
Hilly's presentation featured photos from the book, different snapshots into Dylan's life in London, and landmarks in Swansea. These visuals, combined with the powerful reminder of being in the parlour of where he spent so many of his days, made for a compelling literary evening.
Hilly followed up this evening with a book signing at the re-staging of Swansea And The Arts, a BBC broadcast that Dylan and the Kardomah Boys performed in 1949. This free event featured actors portraying the legendary friend group's scripted performance, which Hilly's father was among the original cast.
The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas is available in paperback from Parthian's website here.