This week we're talking all things poetry in the lead up to #NationalPoetryDay this Thursday on the 6th of October. We are delighted that Pearl & Bone by the wonderful Mari Ellis Dunning has been met with some great reviews since its launch last Saturday. 'This is a brave, complex, powerful, angry, and loving book, full of poems that argue, discuss, share, and reject the abuse of power that women and children are constant victims of' - Tears in the Fence Dunning's second full poetry collection explores themes of motherhood and femininity using her own intimate moments of becoming a mother during a global pandemic...
As much as I love talking about myself, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about someone else for a change. Rhys Owain Williams is the first of several writers who are going to be contributing in some way or another to this blog.
I first met Rhys a couple of years ago at the Hay Festival. We were both part of the Hay Writers at Work Scheme, this amazing project that sees a group of writers from Wales sent to the festival for 13 days to write, network and, basically, develop professionally.
I liked Rhys straight away. He was a late recruit, joining up with us on the second year of the scheme, but he easily slotted into our group. We drank beer. Lots of beer. We attended events and workshops with famous writers and agents. We listened to each other’s poetry. We sat outside in the Green Room and talked about our collections which were, at this point, just fragmented words in various notepads, half formed ideas in our heads, their front covers like adverts for holidays we could only imagine going on.
I mostly liked Rhys because we had the same sense of humour. He’d share funny stories about the B&B he was staying at and the old lady who ran it, Betty, describing their early morning conversations, her ornaments and her concern for his well-being during his stay. I imagined him sneaking back in the middle of the night, creeping up Betty's stairs like a burglar after one of our group’s drinking sessions at The Old Electric Shop, like Betty was his Nan or something and he didn’t want to disappoint her with his antics.
As well as having a talent for befriending old ladies and drinking beer, Rhys is also a fantastic poet. The nice part about our friendship is that those conversations in the Green Room about our first poetry collections became a reality. We were both offered publishing contracts, at the same time, by the same publisher.
Rhys’ collection is different to mine though, in that he uses a lot of styles and poetic devices. He’s a poet who has clearly worked on his craft for years and that shows – every word counts, every word has been thought out, making an extremely moving and accomplished debut collection.
I’m really looking forward to touring with our books. It’s exciting having a new book out anyway but it’s even better being able to share the journey with someone I know. Rhys has his own launch in Swansea tomorrow (Friday 14 September).
You can buy his book That Lone Ship HERE.
I asked him some questions.
Over and out. X