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This article is taken from PN Review 164, Volume 31 Number 6, July - August 2005.

The Baghdad Moon, the Pepsi Globe: Robert Minhinnick Ian Gregson

Robert Minhinnick has labelled himself as 'a kind of racial atheist'. Describing a climb up Snowdon, he worries that the mountain will impress him so much that he will be obliged to doubt this philosophy and 'discover now in myself the capacity for awe or wonder at the concept of a patria... Was I about to be overwhelmed by the humility of "belonging"?'1 He finds himself, instead, half-relieved when the peak is shrouded in mist and occupied by English tourists and their litter. Similarly, when I interviewed him for Planet, and asked him about his relationship to the Anglo-Welsh poetic, he was chary: 'I'm sure,' he said, 'I have some relationship with such a tradition, but it's not something I think about.'2

I want to argue, however, that Minhinnick's work takes Wales as the starting-point of a global politics focused on colonialism and Nature. Wales comes to operate increasingly in Minhinnick's work as a kind of synecdoche: its cultural condition is representative of larger forces at work in the postmodern world. The earliest signs of this are in a preoccupation in his first two books with territory, and its occupation and invasion: repeatedly his poems insist that the peaceful surface of the South Walian landscapes he describes conceals a kind of cultural and social war. The beliefs that motivate this are most explicit in 'The House' when he declares that

                         territory is not
Bought or sold but fought over: it ...

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