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J. Brookes in the Western Mail

Cardiff, Events, News, Poetry -

J. Brookes in the Western Mail

There was a great feature on J.Brookes' Selected Poems: Hymns Ancient & Modern in the Western Mail on Saturday.

Here are some of his answers for the piece:

 Tell me a bit about how and why you became a poet?

'In the 50s my father had an EP record called Red Bird, the poems of Christopher Logue, read by the poet to the jazz of the Tony Kinsey Quintet, and these, titles like "Drunk as drunk on Turpentine" and "Blue Shoes" seemed very exciting and beautiful. Then, later, when I was a teen, "The Mersey Sound", a collection by Adrien Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten, came out as part of the Penguin Modern Poets series, and it was as accessible and relevant as rap is today. Everyone had a copy in their pocket, or nearly, back then, and everyone, including me, wrote poetry, as I guess everyone, or nearly, does today.'

Who or what has inspired your writing?

'Reading is very inspiring, seeing how other people write. Love, of course, can turn you into a poetry machine, and the end of love can be even more productive.'

Are there any dominant themes in this collection? Tell me a bit about them.

'It is said there are only two themes for poetry, love and death, and since both contain absolutely everything in the universe, then I'll go along with that: these are poems of love and death.'

What do you hope people will get out of reading this book?

'The most a poem can reasonably expect is the occasional face brightening with the recognition of an accurate description, an unexpected truth, a good turn of phrase.'

What are you looking forward to about the launch event?

'The wine.'

Former editor of Square Magazine and host of the launch event, Nick Fisk, said:

'Jonathan is a long established and respected poet. His work has featured in just about every significant UK poetry magazine, including the TLS. Poetry is very much in his blood – he lives and breathes it. If he is not reading other poets, he will be writing new poems of his own, or refining older poems. He has little interest in making money from poetry – he has several self published collections which were given out free under the banner of The Profitless Press. He has been a part of various writers' groups, including one which featured other high profile poets such as Peter Finch and Ifor Thomas. He ran the poetry magazine, The Yellow Crane, for several years, putting out over 50 issues.'

'With eleven supporting poets, including, as already mentioned, Peter Finch and Ifor Thomas, plus other popular poets such as Mab Jones, Susie Wild, Gemma June Howell and Mark Blayney, attendees can expect possibly Cardiff's poetry event of the year! Jonathan himself will of course be topping the bill. He is an excellent reader, and it is quite rare to hear him perform live, so quite an exciting prospect for poetry lovers.'

'The poetry scene has definitely evolved in recent years. Spoken word has possibly overtaken more convential poetry readings in popularity stakes. But more traditional style poetry readings, if done well, can still be enthralling and we hope our event will match expectations in this regard.'

Publishing Editor at Parthian, Susie Wildsmith, said:

'A selected poems is the mark of a career, a poet needs to have gained some repute and respect for their work for one of these to come together, in my view at least, and Jonathan certainly has gained that respect. It is also a way of getting the work of an undervalued poet out to a broader audience. Jonathan has largely self-published before now, and so hasn’t had that mainstream audience. Which is why I believe this book should be read by a wider crowd, the poems initially grabbed me for the direct voice, talking of life, love and heartbreak and the representation of my own daily landscape in Cardiff from a cafe on Clifton Street to the gypsy sites, thunderclouds in Tremorfa or a trip to Saint Fagans he walks where we walk, he shows us our city familiar and afresh. He also shares my kind of humour, wry and reflective. There’s a lot to admire within these pages.

'These are lyrical, but not sentimental, poems spanning three decades of experience looking both inwards and outwards. A measure of a life lived fully, the highs, the lows, and the darker edges we walk sometimes. I rate him highly and I hope more people will. Besides all of this, the excellent roll call of poets reading at the launch has to show you how other poets feel about him. He’s a poet’s poet. Come along, for the performances or, as Jonathon is, the wine.'

If you are in or near Cardiff do come along to the launch at Tiny Rebel on Thursday featuring 12 excellent poets, headlined by Jonathan himself. A bargain £3 on the door, and Parthian books including this excellent collection will also be on sale, please bring cash as we won't have a card machine on this night!

 We're looking forward to it!

Susie x