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This review is taken from PN Review 163, Volume 31 Number 5, May - June 2005.

THE RANDOMNESS OF FATE JOHN POWELL WARD, Selected and New Poems (Seren) £9.99

John Powell Ward, known then as J.P. Ward, took over from me as editor of Poetry Wales in 1975. He developed the magazine in ways I had not anticipated, and contributed significantly to its capacity for survival. (This year, under Robert Minhinnick, it celebrates its fortieth anniversary.) Ward, who was born in Suffolk, came to Wales in 1963 to lecture at University College, Swansea, and stayed until 1988, when he took early retirement. He never became 'naturalised', however. Whatever he may have gathered of the language, heritage and culture of Wales in twenty-five years, little registers in the poetry, save the record of a brief encounter with R. S. Thomas and a handful of topographical references, mostly relating to the Gower peninsula, where he made his home.

He appeared in the Triskel Poets pamphlet series, which I also edited in the early 1970s. The apparently effortless style of the poems in The Line of Knowledge (1972) still impresses. They seemed to me then like excerpts from an internal monologue on which the reader is permitted to eavesdrop. None of them finds a place among the Selected and New, but their style is represented by 'The Party', for example, which begins:

And finally the garden
and terrace were finished, and they
decided on a party, with salads, cheese
and a bowl of strawberries...

The simple, detailed observation of setting and ...

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