I have always had fun as a writer stepping into the shoes of different characters. It’s a version of acting without having to get on the stage. Except that ultimately as we know, there is no escape from the stage if you are to sell your books, as reading from them is one way of bringing your work to new audiences. In my most recent collection, Banjo I donned the clothes of crew members of two Antarctic expeditions from the turn of the last century, the Discovery and the Terra Nova, exploring in verse the role that music and the theatre played in keeping up morale in a challenging environment. Last year I published a pamphlet entitled Lime & Winter, which came out of a Leverhulme-funded residency at the National Wool Museum in Drefach in south west Wales. The title of the pamphlet is the name of a pattern of material which I saw on one of the looms. During this residency I interviewed a number of weavers and researched the lives of 19th century workers at mills along the Teifi valley, later weaving these into contemporary stories to create new work.
Since completing that residency I have written a new group of poems which I offer here, looking at mountains from different angles, grammar and plumbing. For me no subject is off limits and there is nothing more exciting than writing out of a different gender or diving into a period in history about which I know very little but will have the thrill of researching. I love the challenge of convincing the reader that this really did happen to me, that I have been there and done that. Two of the poems included here were written about the slate industry in Blaenau Ffestiniog, a place I have never lived in and knew nothing about until I visited for the first time last year. One of these poems, Portrait reflects on what happened to one of the paintings that was evacuated to Manod Quarry north of Blaenau during the war. For my next project I have been given a Creative Wales Award by the Arts Council to look at how the rhythms of Argentine Tango might seep into my new work, with a particular focus on folding and unfolding of stories mirrored in the opening and closing of the bandoneón, the instrument which traditionally accompanies the Tango. Some of my new poems will be handwritten in concertina-shaped books and I will be performing them in a spoken word and dance event at the inaugural Poetry in Presteigne festival on the borders on 17th October this year.