Saturday, 11 October 2008

Sex Wax, Secrets and Submarines

Great event at Baylit on Wednesday night. Large and very mixed crowd - and enthusiastic, too. All the readers were great. Louise Walsh, a young writer of immense promise, read an hilarious and touching excerpt from her debut Fighting Pretty. She was incredibly unassuming, refreshingly unaware of the bright future ahead of her. Joe Dunthorne, whose first novel Submarine (think The Rachel Papers meets The Catcher in the Rye) is attracting attention far and wide, introduced us to his novel's anti-hero Oliver and read some of his great poetry (yes, he's an accomplished poet, too) which I'll be featuring in upcoming issues of New Welsh Review.

Poets Meirion Jordan and Zoe Brigley - two very different talents - are further evidence that Welsh poetry is in rude health. Zoe has been a regular contributor to New Welsh Review over the last few years and her debut The Secret has won a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, excellent notices and a place on the Dylan Thomas Prize longlist earlier this year. I'd lay a confident bet that 2009 will be a great year for Meirion Jordan. His work has a virtuosity and maturity that belie his youth (he's just 23) and his first collection Moonrise is hot off the press from Seren. Highly recommended.

In Swansea, in the 1980s, there were only three possibilities for an adolescent identity: Townie, Surfie or ‘Other’. I was most definitely categorised as ‘Other’. This in no small part accounts for a lifelong prejudice against white trainers, corkscrew perms...Oh, and surfing, together with all its paraphernalia (Sex Wax, Alder jackets and the immortal phrase ‘Going down ‘Gennith’). It also accounts for why Tom Anderson, in particular, so surprised and impressed me. He read from current and forthcoming work - travel narratives inspired by his journeys as a surfer. His work is exceptional: lyrical, haunting, political, offbeat. Like maestro Robert Minhinnick, Anderson lives in Porthcawl. There must be something in the water. Anderson’s writing deserves a wide audience. His book is Riding the Magic Carpet. Buy it.

continues until Tuesday 14 October.

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