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This report is taken from PN Review 221, Volume 41 Number 3, January - February 2015.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
Not much more than a year ago, I met Dannie Abse crossing the car park of the Bull Inn here, on his way to give a reading in one of Caerleon’s remarkable Roman remains, the fortress baths. He was as effortlessly charming as ever. ‘There’s a photograph of you in here,’ he said, extracting a copy of Goodbye, Twentieth Century, his autobiography (the real, not the fictionalised one), republished in the Library of Wales series, from the bundle under his arm. He flicked the book open to the page. It wasn’t easy to recognise myself, dark-haired and darkly bearded, about forty years younger, but there I was indeed, one of a sizeable group, on a sunny day, enjoying the hospitality of Dannie and Joan in the garden of their Welsh home, ‘Green Hollows’, at Ogmore-by-Sea. John Tripp, cigarette to lips, is turning around to the camera, Herbert Williams leans against the white-painted wall, Aled Vaughan, rich-voiced Welsh-language author and broadcaster, sits next to Gillian Clarke, on my right stands a small dark-haired figure, possibly Sheenagh Pugh, and Glenys, John Ormond’s wife, sits in front of me, but I cannot see John – a wonderful poet and documentary film-maker, who was familiar with the poetry of camera angles: perhaps he is taking the photograph. Beside the French doors Meic Stephens towers over Dannie (and just about everyone else) and Joan, nearest to the lens, is smiling broadly.

I have no direct memory of the occasion, but this commitment of time and generous encouragement of Welsh writers and writing was the sort ...


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