Rewriting the Middle Ages

LIAM GUILAR likes a radical reimagining of a venerable Welsh work Isolated in Aber Cuawg Harry Gilonis, Oystercatcher Press, 2020, 19 pages ‘Claf Abercuawg’ is a Welsh poem composed perhaps in the ninth century. Claf, as a noun, means a sick person, a patient or a leper . Abercuawg is an area of north…

Stuff and nonsense

The Culture of My Stuff Adam Crothers, Carcanet, 2020, 84 pps, £10.99 DEREK TURNER finds a celebrated poet’s latest collection dazzling but lightweight This slender assemblage comes weighted with prestige – Adam Crothers’ prize-winning history (Shine/Strong and Seamus Heaney Centre in 2017), and endorsements of his latest offering by equally well-regarded contemporaries. But any potential…

Chumservatives

KEN BELL enjoys an amusing and observant, if ultimately insubstantial, account of an eventful political period The Diary of an MP’s Wife, Sasha Swire, Little, Brown, 544 pages, £8 A diarist needs a good eye for the little details that makes the reader feel that he is in the room where the events are happening.…

The once and un-killable king

King Arthur: The Making of a Legend Nicholas J. Higham, Yale University Press, 2018, 380 pages LIAM GUILAR marvels to see a sledgehammer being wielded against castles-in-the-air People in Britain have been telling stories about an ‘Arthur’ since at least the 9th century, possibly earlier. In the Middle Ages, those stories include some of the…

Shores, stars…and unmade beds

Bethesda Constellations, Peter Hughes, Oystercatcher Press, 2020 28 pages The Celestial Set-Up, Zoë Skoulding, Oystercatcher Press, 2020, 24 pages LIAM GUILAR combs through two new poetry pamphlets Oystercatcher Press is one of the many small presses keeping poetry alive and well and providing readers with the opportunity to sample a writer’s work for a relatively…

Scenes from a closely-observed life

Still Life, Ciaran Carson, Wake Forest University Press, 2019, 88 pages LIAM GUILAR relishes - and mourns - a unique talent There’s a picture of Ciaran Carson on the back cover of Still Life. He’s sitting on a bench seat. Tall buildings, trees and streetlights provide a diminishing perspective taking the eye towards an approaching…

Fear of frying

Visitors to Yadegar Asisi's 'Dresden 1945' installation at the Panometer in Dresden in January 2015 Dresden, the Fire and the Darkness, Sinclair McKay, Viking, 2020 LESLIE JONES revisits the Dresden raid of February 1945 “Man is at bottom a savage, horrible beast” (Arthur Schopenhauer) Historian James Holland, a ubiquitous presence on television programmes about World…