Welcome to the latest round up of news relating to the poet Dylan Thomas
There’s been a distinctly transatlantic flavour to some of the recent events staged to help celebrate the centenary of Dylan Thomas, including a New York reception, a Greenwich Village walkabout, historic Thomas material crossing the Atlantic, and New York coming to the streets of Swansea.
New York Celebrations
Dylan Thomas’ connections with New York were celebrated in a series of events that included the visit of the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, who attended a reception to celebrate the Thomas centenary. At the Reception hosted by the British Consulate, harpist Claire Jones performed Dylan, a new work composed by Chris Marshall and commissioned by the British Council as part of their Starless and Bible Black programme. The First Minister also joined with Dylan’s granddaughter Hannah Ellis and singer-songwriter Cerys Matthews on the route of the Dylan Thomas Walking Tour of Greenwich Village to mark the launch of a mobile phone app for the tour, and on February 28th Hannah Ellis was awarded the William R Hopkins Bronze Medal by the St David’s Society of New York State.
At an evening celebration of Dylan Thomas at the Nuyorican Poetry Cafe in New York Cerys Matthews launched the 2014 Dylan Thomas Prize which this year has increased it’s age limit from 30 to 39 in honour of Dylan’s centenary, and American political activist and writer, Kevin Powell, was announced as the International Ambassador for the Dylan Thomas Centenary. Read Kevin Powell’s blog about his recent visit to Wales.
February brought the news that the Dylan Thomas collection of the University at Buffalo was ready for it’s transatlantic journey to visit Wales as part of the centenary celebrations. The collection which includes original manuscripts, printed material and memorabilia, is part of the archive held at the Poetry Collection of the University Libraries at the University at Buffalo, and will be exhibited at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, and at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea. The highlight of the collection will be the Notebooks in which Dylan wrote much of his early poetry. The Notebooks have never been available for public viewing in Wales as they have not been on this side of the Atlantic since they were sold by Dylan in 1941.
Set Fire To The Stars
New York came to the streets of Swansea during February when filming took place for Set Fire To The Stars the film which focuses on Dylan’s first trip to North America in 1950 and his working relationship with his American agent John Malcolm Brinnin. Hollywood actor Elijah Wood stars as Brinnin opposite Welsh actor Celyn Jones as Dylan Thomas in the film co-written by Jones and Downton Abbey director Andy Goddard who also takes up directing duties. Despite being set in New York the film has been shot on location in Wales with Swansea streets doubling for New York, with fake snow, US style street furniture and classic American cars to complete the transformation. A gala screening in Swansea is expected later in the year.
Writing Shed On Tour
The replica of Dylan’s Laugharne writing shed made it’s debut on the road when it visited Carmarthen’s Merlin’s Walk shopping centre on March 1st. The shed is a nearly life size copy complete with replica contents and travels on a trailer to visit local schools and high-profile events such as the National Eisteddfod, the Royal Welsh Show, and The Hay Festival.
Clwyd Theatr’s production of Under Milk Wood has attracted excellent press including five star reviews from The Guardian and Wales Online. Their run at Mold ends on March 8th before going on tour. Also garnering good reviews is Rhodri Miles for his performance as Dylan in Gwynne Edwards’ Clown In The Moon which is touring extensively during the spring and autumn.
Swansea Museum has launched it’s Dylan’s Swansea exhibition that looks at the pubs, places, and people that Dylan would have known, and includes a recreation of a 1930s public bar interior, and illustrations by Wyn Thomas of Dylan’s former haunts.
Professor John Goodby will be delivering The Dylan Thomas Lecture at this year’s Cheltenham Poetry Festival on March 29th.
For more information on events during March and beyond please check out our comprehensive Events page.
A revised Welsh language adaptation of Under Milk Wood translated by T James Jones has been published by Gomer Press.
Do Not Go Gentle by Phil Carradice, published by Accent Press, is part of the £1 Quick Reads series and is a story based on the life and death of Dylan Thomas.
Poet Robert Minhinnick has published an essay The Mythic Death of Dylan Thomas that explores the advantages (for a poet) of dying young—and more particularly of being Welsh and dying young in New York. It is published by Happenstance Press.
Other books recently announced for publication this year are Dylan Thomas : A Centenary Celebration by Hannah Ellis, published by Bloomsbury, The World Of Dylan Thomas published by History Press as part of the Pitkin Biography series, and a re-issue of Writers of Wales : Dylan Thomas the critical study by Walford Davies, published by University of Wales Press, Cardiff.
Radio, TV & Film
BBC Dylan Thomas Season
The BBC began promoting their forthcoming Dylan Thomas season with an all-star Welsh cast reading Dylan’s Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, and a number of Welsh actors also feature in video clips recording their thoughts on the poet in Dylan Thomas and me. Dylan’s granddaughter Hannah Ellis features on the BBC blog talking about her relationship with her grandfather’s work, and the BBC coverage of the England v Wales Six Nations rugby international included Hollywood actor Elijah Wood reading Dylan’s To Others Than You.
A Poet In New York
The photograph above is the first official image to be released from the Andrew Davies scripted BBC drama starring Tom Hollander. The film had a premiere screening in London on March 11th which was followed by a Q&A with star Tom Hollander, script writer Andrew Davies, director Aisling Walsh, and producers Ruth Caleb and Griff Rhys Jones. You can read a transcript of the Q&A courtesy of Ian Wylie’s blog. The soundtrack, composed by Debbie Wiseman, will be released as an album by Silva Screen Records.
Set Fire To The Stars
The film about Dylan Thomas’ relationship with his American agent John Malcolm Brinnin moved into post production following the completion of filming in Swansea Bay during February. ITV News ran a feature on the filming including an interview with star Elijah Wood. Celyn Jones who plays Dylan, and Andy Goddard the film’s director were guests on Eleri Sion’s BBC Radio Wales show.
In The Papers
The South Wales entertainment magazine Buzz put Dylan on the cover and included details of some of the centenary events. Other recent press coverage includes travel pieces in The Tatler, Dallas News, and the FT. The Telegraph looked at Dylan’s doomed collaboration with Stravinsky, the same newspaper ran a considered piece on Dylan’s writing, and The Times included a piece on Under Milk Wood director Andrew Sinclair. The South Wales Evening Post ran a piece on Hannah Ellis’ thoughts on her grandfather.
The Royal Mail have included a photographic portrait of Dylan Thomas in their new range of stamps featuring Remarkable Lives and will be issuing a commemorative First Day Cover with a Swansea postmark on the issue date of March 25th.
Books from the family library of Dylan’s childhood home at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, are to be offered for sale at auction by Bonhams on March 19th. The books which feature the former ownership marks of Dylan, his father, and his sister Nancy, are estimated to fetch £2000-£3000. The books were more recently in the ownership of Dylan’s friend, the Swansea artist Ronald Cour.
Majoda For Sale
Dylan’s former New Quay home, the bungalow Majoda, has recently been put up for sale. The property has been extensively modernised and altered since the 1940s when Dylan and Caitlin lived there, and is the site of the notorious shooting incident that features in the 2008 film Edge of Love.