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This report is taken from PN Review 116, Volume 23 Number 6, July - August 1997.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

PN Review and Carcanet Press have done more than most to popularise translation as an art form and to increase the currency of writers in other languages among anglophone readers. The current Carcanet list includes translations from French, Catalan, Russian, German, Swedish and Portuguese as well as the collected translations of Edwin Morgan and C.H. Sisson. That there is nothing from the language of England's nearest neighbour doesn't surprise; Welsh writers have ever been poor advertisers abroad of their own talent and have found few to speak up on their behalf. It has become fairly common to hear among the cognoscenti acknowledgement of the marvellous medieval lyrical poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym, but few of these same enthusiasts could name a single contemporary Welsh poet. For the most part, the latter have been content to write for the people in their own backyard. They have competed in eisteddfodau great and small; they have kept up complex, traditional forms of versifying that are exceedingly difficult to render acceptably in another language; they have performed impromptu among friends and neighbours in pubs and parish halls; they have published books for a small, linguistically-defined readership. As in the case of Waldo Williams's single volume, Dail Pren (Leaves of the Tree), however, the writing of one or two has had a profound influence on the consciousness of a generation.

That Welsh poetry has flourished in the twentieth century and that there are a number of very fine contemporary poets in the ...


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