Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Slanderous Tongues

“It’s been a long time coming / But Slanderous Tongues is gonna come” this Friday at the Association of Welsh Writing in English Conference in Gregynog. Aretha Franklin could have had this volume in mind when she sang:

“Sometimes I had to cry all night long /
Sometimes I had to give up right / For what I knew was wrong /
Yes it’s been an uphill journey/ It’s sure been a long way comin’”

But the volume, edited by CREW's Daniel Williams, is here now. Published by Seren, Slanderous Tongues is made up of engaging, thematic chapters, exploring the field of Welsh poetry in English since 1970 through the prisms of tradition, nationhood, gender, class, comparative studies (American and Irish), translation, formal experimentation, and ethnicity. It includes essays by Hywel Dix, Jasmine Donahaye, Jo Furber, Tudur Hallam, Matthew Jarvis, Nicholas Jones, Daniel Williams and Nerys Willams.

Professor Helen Vendler of Harvard University had this to say about the volume in her report for Seren press:

“The explosive nature of Welsh literature is present everywhere in Slanderous Tongues, as the authors reflect on the tensions between languages, between cultures, between an ardent nationalism and its isolationist twin, between an inherited tradition and the modern world, between a male canon and female expression, between a local point of view and a global one, between the individual’s right of self-expression and the culture’s critique of that selfhood, and between the avant-garde and poetic convention. The eight essays, each one different in orientation, not only provide recent ways to map the development of modern Welsh poetry in English but also raise - and raise intensely - questions about literary culture in general, applicable to poetries beyond that of Wales. Conscious of scholars in Welsh culture who have preceded them, from Raymond Williams to M. Wynn Thomas, they exemplify a welcome sobriety in their approach to such critical matters as nationalism, bilingual translation, American influence, and the place of immigrants in a literature hitherto composed principally by the Welsh-born. This enlivening collection will alert readers to the ferment of imagination and language generating an array of new voices in Welsh poetry in English.”

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