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This report is taken from PN Review 119, Volume 24 Number 3, January - February 1998.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

With some of the biggest players in Welsh business lining up alongside renegade socialists to work for a 'No' vote, the referendum on a Welsh assembly was always going to be close-run thing. The capacity of the Welsh for self-abasement is not limitless but, God knows, quite close to it. On the credit side, I know of not a single writer in Wales who was in the No camp, but there were a great many ardent, public and vociferous supporters of the Yes campaign. What influence this had on the vote, and in what direction, is a matter for conjecture. As it turned out, 1997 was not a repeat of 1979, 'blwyddyn y pla' (the year of the plague) as Gwyn Williams explosively cursed it. This time there was cause for celebration, albeit muted compared to that relished by the Scots.

Earlier in the summer, Seren launched Peter Finch's latest volume of poetry, Useful, at Waterstone's in Cardiff. In Wales at least, book launches are often low-key affairs: small beer for the writer and publisher and indescribable wine for the handful of enthusiasts. This was one of the other kind. A substantial throng swilled cheerfully around the ground-floor book stacks and mint copies sold briskly. Peter Finch has a following - and he has earned it. Rather more than thirty years ago, while still in his teens (and employed as a local government officer), he founded a little magazine. Initially, it was to print the work of ...
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