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This report is taken from PN Review 155, Volume 30 Number 3, January - February 2004.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

In 1995, the Welsh Union of Writers marked the UK Year of Literature by publishing Thirteen Ways of Looking at Tony Conran, a book celebrating the writer's life and work. I have mentioned Yr Academi Gymreig, (which, as `Academi', is now the established agency for literature promotion in Wales) in previous letters, but not, I think, the union. It was set up in 1982 to represent writers vis-à-vis publishers, broadcasters and public institutions and is open to any prepared to pay the modest annual subscription. A parallel body, Undeb Awduron Cymru (`Union of Writers of Wales'), founded almost a decade earlier, in 1973, functions in much the same way for Welshlanguage writers. Contributors to the celebratory volume include members of the Undeb. Anthony Conran may well be one himself: as an outstanding translator of Welsh verse he is ideally qualified to have a foot in both camps.

Conran's Penguin Book of Welsh Verse (1967) did more to inform readers about the essential nature and quality of Welsh poetry from the sixth century to the twentieth than any other book before - or since. To some, it was a revelation. Nor was its impact confined to those like myself, then freshly returned to Wales from occupational exile in England and striving to gain a finger-hold on the great monolith of the Welsh language. Thanks to the publisher's cachet and distribution network, it reached into minds open to the experience throughout the world. Thirteen Ways of Looking reprints a ...
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