In our latest news round up we hear about a number of celebrations of Dylan Thomas and his work. Tenby has celebrated a unique event in 1953 with a plaque; National Poetry Day saw Dylan’s work being showcased; and a little-known poem has been given a high-profile airing. The new film version of Under Milk Wood has been released in cinemas, and Dylan’s words have turned up in Doctor Who and Hollyoaks.
Tenby Civic Society have erected a blue plaque to commemorate Dylan’s solo reading of Under Milk Wood to the Tenby and District Arts Club on October 2nd 1953. The event is particularly significant as it is probably the only public reading of the work given by Dylan Thomas in Wales, and it took place just a few weeks before his death in New York on November 9th 1953. The plaque has been erected on The Croft close to the site of the former Salad Bowl Cafe where the reading took place. You can read about the unveiling here.
National Poetry Day
National Poetry Day took place on October 8th, with a theme for the year of ‘light’. A film featuring Sean Bean reading Dylan’s ‘Notes on the Art of Poetry’ was produced for the occasion, and Jonathan Pryce read the same work on Radio 4’s Today programme. Andrew Marr took over Radio 4’s schedule for the day with We British, the story of British poetry. When the programme was later discussed on Radio 4’s Feedback programme one listener remarked on the lack of Welsh poets including Dylan Thomas. In answering this point the producer noted that Jonathan Pryce’s reading on the Today programme had ensured that Dylan had received the biggest audience of the day for poetry. The BBC also created an online quiz where participants had to decide whether a series of quotations were from Dylan Thomas or Bob Dylan.
A tweet from Sir Paul McCartney on National Poetry Day confirmed that Dylan Thomas is one of the former Beatle’s favourite poets. You can read the interview that revealed this answer here.
A Dream of Winter
A little known Thomas poem not published in the UK since 1942 has been celebrated at a London event. The poem, ‘A Dream of Winter’, was originally published in the January 1942 issue of Lilliput magazine accompanying photographs of winter scenes, but has not been included in any UK publication since then. Professor John Goodby, editor of the recent Collected Poems, discovered the poem when he was sent a cutting from Lilliput magazine and arranged the celebration of it’s re-emergence. The poem was read by actor Celyn Jones to an invited audience of Dylan Thomas fans at the Fitzrovia pub in London. At the same event artist Dan Llywelyn Hall unveiled a painting inspired by the work. The poem has been published in the latest issue (No 226) of PN Review magazine and will be included in a revised Collected Poems which will be published in paperback in May 2016. Professor Goodby also gave a talk on the poem at Swansea’s Dylan Thomas Centre.
Actor Richard Davies who played Mr Pritchard in the 1972 film version of Under Milk Wood has died at the age of 89. He also appeared on television as Lord Cut Glass and Mog Edwards in an adaptation of Under Milk Wood broadcast as part of the BBC’s Festival series in 1964; and took on six roles when the Welsh National Theatre Company staged the play for it’s 25th anniversary in 1978. Davies’ daughter Nerissa told us that her father ‘absolutely loved Dylan Thomas’ and that they had ‘visited the house’.
Dylan Thomas Prize
The 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize opened for entries on September 1st and closed on November 2nd. The winner will be announced at a ceremony on May 14th 2016. The judges for this year’s prize are Sarah Hall, Professor Kurt Heinzelman, Phyllida Lloyd, Kamila Shamsie, Owen Sheers, and Professor Dai Smith (chair of panel).
For more information on events during November and beyond please see our Events page.
A letter from Dylan to Caitlin has been included in the second volume of the highly successful Letters of Note, edited by Shaun Usher, and published by Canongate.
Andrew Sinclair’s biography Dylan the Bard: A Life of Dylan Thomas has been published for Kindle by Endeavour Press.
Two of Dylan’s poems are featured in The Emergency Poet: An Anti-Stress Poetry edited by Deborah Alma.
Radio, TV & Film
Under Milk Wood, directed by Kevin Allen, received it’s London premiere on October 25th, and opened in the UK on October 30th. Check their website for screening dates. The film will be released on DVD on 16th November. Dan y Wenallt, the Welsh language version of the same film has been submitted by BAFTA as a candidate for Best Foreign Language Film nomination at the 2016 Oscars.
Dylan Thomas related productions did well at the 2015 BAFTA Cymru Awards. The BBC drama A Poet in New York won two awards including Best Feature / TV Film, and Set Fire To The Stars won three awards including Gruff Rhys’s award for Original Music Score.
It has been reported that the soundtrack to Set Fire To The Stars by Gruff Rhys will be released in 2016.
The 2014 BBC production of Under Milk Wood is now available on DVD.
Recordings of Howard Marks reading Dylan Thomas poems to music had their first plays on BBC Radio 6 programmes presented by Lauren Laverne and Cerys Matthews. The recordings will be issued on vinyl by O Genesis for Record Store Day 2016 (April 16th).
Dylan watch on TV & Radio
Dylan’s ‘Do Not Go Gentle’ made an appearance in the BBC’s Doctor Who and Channel 4’s Hollyoaks. The same poem was quoted in the Radio 4 comedy Clare in the Community. There were Dylan Thomas related questions on both the BBC’s University Challenge and the Radio 4 music quiz Counterpoint. Charlotte Church talked about her role in the new Under Milk Wood film on Radio 4’s Loose Ends (listen here) and on the BBC’s One Show, while Rhys Ifans discussed his role in the same film on Radio 4’s Today programme (listen here). The film was also discussed by Professor John Goodby on Radio 4’s Front Row, and by film critic Mark Kermode for Radio 5 Live.
In The Papers
The release of the new film version of Under Milk Wood prompted coverage in the daily press including an interview with Charlotte Church in The Guardian. The re-emergence of ‘A Dream of Winter’ prompted a number of articles including in the Telegraph and Daily Mail. Mollie Parkin revealed that actor James Robertson Justice gave her a copy of Under Milk Wood in an interview with The Scotsman, whilst the Irish Times reported that novelist John Banville had revealed on the Sean O’Rourke radio show that he had, as a ‘bookish teenager’, stolen a copy of Dylan’s Collected Poems from Wexford County Library. The Irish Independent ran a travel feature on the Falls Hotel, Ennistymon, the former home of the Macnamara family.
There were reviews of three Dylan Thomas related publications in Issue 109 of New Welsh Review.
Dylan’s portrait has been included on a mural of prominent people connected to the town of Penzance in Cornwall. The mural on the Honeypot Cafe in Parade Street is the latest recognition for Dylan in the town, and follows the plaque commemorating Dylan and Caitlin’s wedding that was unveiled on the former Register Office building earlier in the year.
Dylan’s work has had some high profile supporters recently. Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy told an audience at the Manchester Literature Festival that the first poet she fell in love with was Dylan Thomas. A list of the 14 books that inspired the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, compiled by Business Insider Magazine, included Dylan’s Collected Poems. On twitter both Bianca Jagger and Gyles Brandreth identified themselves as Dylan Thomas fans.
Charles Kennedy Memorial Service
Dylan’s ‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion’ was read by the satirist and broadcaster Ian Hislop at the memorial service for the former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy which took place on November 3rd.
Poet Mab Jones has been blogging about her time as writer-in-residence at the Laugharne Boathouse
Dylan Thomas Sound Project
Musician Gwyn Griffins is setting Dylan’s words to music in a project that will see live performances in 2016. Check out their website for more information.
The latest Dylan Thomas material to be offered at auction includes a previously unrecorded letter at Roger Jones & Co of Cardiff, and a copy of a BBC script for Under Milk Wood at Bonhams. The 1952 letter, which referred to an engagement in Bangor, fetched £3500 (hammer price) when it sold on September 5th. The 1954 script carries an estimate of £600-£800 and is offered for sale at Bonhams on November 11th.
The Swansea branch of TSB are celebrating their local connections with an image of Dylan Thomas.