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This report is taken from PN Review 222, Volume 41 Number 4, March - April 2015.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
Dylan Thomas was born on 27 October 1914, and centenary celebrations in his name are winding down. It is not long since we celebrated the R.S. Thomas centenary. Predictably, that was a low-key affair compared with the events of Dylan’s year, for apart from a tendency to be brusque on occasion, and stiff and ascetic almost always, nothing vaguely controversial attaches to R.S. The life of Dylan Thomas on the other hand was full of the scrapes beloved of the media. As well as a truly wonderful poet, he turned out to be a posthumous celebrity. Events organised by Literature Wales included marathon readings of his work, theatre and dance productions, and literary tours – by boat, on horseback and on foot – exploring Dylan Thomas haunts and habitats in Wales and Fitzrovia and New York. The Welsh Government funded creative writing workshops in schools that involved more than 8000 young people. An exhibition at the National Library of Wales brought the poet’s notebooks back from the University of Buffalo, NY. Radio and television joined in: it is unlikely the centenary passed you by.

The broad appeal of the programme has won praise, but there have been dissenting voices, prominent among them that of Professor John Goodby of Swansea University, whose new annotated edition of Thomas’s Collected Poems (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2014), is a major contribution to this past year and a fuller appreciation of the poetry. The critics complain that a rerun of the familiar, popular writings, emphasis on the rackety life, and activities that were ...


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