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This report is taken from PN Review 153, Volume 30 Number 1, September - October 2003.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

We passed through Y Gelli Gandryll (Hayon-Wye) recently, on our way to a pub meal just across the border. It was a blustery, showery day and the book town was quiet, few cars in the car park and bibliophiles thin on the ground. In a week's time it will be very different. The programme of the Hay Festival has that starry look that should attract punters from afar. A scattering of Welsh items might bring in local supporters, or so I hope. I have a small part to play in the celebration of Roland Mathias, the man and his poetry, along with Professor Wynn Thomas, Robert Minhinnick, Gilllian Clarke, Anne Cluysenaar and Peter Finch. All of us count Roland as a friend of many years standing and are delighted to participate in an event honouring him.

I cannot be sure now, but I think the first Mathias poem I read was `Cascob', which appeared in Dragon, the magazine of UCW Aberystwyth, in 1958. (That year, a farsighted editor had the good sense to invite contributors from outside the student body.) `Cascob' is a strange poem and I continued uncertain about it, even after lengthy discussion with the poet, whose recollection of places and events, once perfect, has become unreliable since he suffered a stroke.

Just here's the middle of a silence that
Has already sung the centuries like a gnat:
The valley's middle too, by the hill sound
Topping the trees. ...


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