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This article is taken from PN Review 62, Volume 14 Number 6, July - August 1988.

Welsh Artifacts Jeremy Hooker

As epigraph to one of his poems, 'Pembrokeshire Seams', Tony Curtis adapts some words by the historian Gwyn A. Williams and sets them out as verse:


Wales is a process.
Wales is an artefact which the Welsh produce.
The Welsh make and remake Wales
day by day, year by year, generation after
  generation
if they want to.


Tony Curtis repeats the quotation at the start of his introduction to a recent book of which he is editor: Wales: the imagined nation (Poetry Wales Press, £14.95, £5.95 pb.), subtitled 'Essays in Cultural and National Identity'. In both cases, it is a significant choice of epigraph, with general relevance to Anglo-Welsh poets born during or since the Second World War. Now, as far as these poets in particular are concerned, the productive relationship between poetry and history, which is a Welsh tradition of great antiquity, has entered a new, exciting, and problematic phase.

A major effect of the 'new' Welsh history, of which Gwyn A. Williams is a leading exponent, has been to emphasize the part played in the making of modern Wales by the English-speaking majority who live mainly in the industrial (or formerly industrial) urban areas. The historians share in a general shift of emphasis, which, as Prys Morgan reminds us, in his contribution to Wales: the imagined nation, has been from 'the older wisdom that states are organic growths' to concern with 'the ...


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