It’s 6 am and I’m at The Laughrane Weekend in south wales, a literary festival in a small welsh village Where Dylan Thomas once lived and wrote a good chunk of Under Milk Wood here.
I drove up from my caravan in Cilan, just outside abersoch thinking it might shorten the journey from manchester, which it did, by 9 miles. So it took me 4-5 hours to get here through places i have never even heard of before let alone visited. Maccynllyth, Castle Emlyn, St Clares all beautiful & all packed.
I’m touring with John Cooper Clarke and loving every minute of it but this is very different to what we’ve done before – usually we are in a big city like london, liverpool, birmingham or newcastle but it feels different in this sleepy welsh village, it feels kind of quaint, where i’m scared to swear in case i’m told off. But that didn’t stop John from swearing last night, he was brilliant. He did the classics but also done a load of new stuff and i believe his new poetry is the best yet – yeah, we love chicken town and beasley street but some of his new stuff is staggering – “rotten here in jail” will be a beasely street in the next 10 years because it is so good, rythmic dancing tumbling words that echo tales of how good/bad jail actually is. and my favourite one liner from him last night was……..”there only one thing worse than agraphobia and thats going out”
Simon Day was on before me with a yorkshire poet character he’s created (sorry, completely forgot his name) who performs really bad poems – it was quite bizare to see because even though the yorkshire poet he’s created reads terrible poems, i actually liked bits of them. I loved simon day in the fast show, loved that blank facial expression he had – ace – I’m going to see him reading from his book, “Suits Him, Sir”, later today.
I’ve never been a big fan of Dylan Thomas, too much hurdy gurdy tumbly wumbly ooozy woozy going on for me but because i knew i was coming here, i decided to give him a proper read so i’ve read everything he’s written in the last week and the more i read the more i like – “Under Milkwood” and “Quite Early One Morning” are incredibly tuneful verse poems about welsh village life and the character who inhabit that village. They don’t need to be read whole, as some of the verse can stand alone. There isn’t much narrative going on but sometimes the sound is enough – it’s like “talky singing” as Bez once described some of my poems.
I also went to Dylan Thomas’ boathouse, where he brought up his family. But the most intriguing part of the visit was his writing shed. Perched on the edge of a cliff looking out across Camarthen Bay untouched from when he last wrote there, so there’s bits of scrunched up paper are on the floor, his desk is full of notes, pens, stout bottles etc but the most poigniantly is his tweed jacket on the back of his chair, as if he’s just popped out for a few pints and will be back later – it is amazing and it has a true spirit of Thomas.
Today i am going to see simon day, alison pearson, stuart maconie, simon armitage and keith allen who presents “Laughranes got talent” but now i’m of to get the papers.