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US Poet Wins Dylan Thomas Prize in Wales

abstract:Each December I listen to a recording of "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas spoken by the great man himself. I love the scratchy quality and his booming voice with its lovely accent. Out of interest, an American writer has won a £30,000 literary award for her collection of 21st Century poetry. Elyse Fenton has been awarded the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize, set up to honour the Welsh poet and encourage writing among the young. Ms Fenton's collection Clamor (Cleveland State University Poetry Center New Poetry) is the first book of poetry to have won.

A Google search of Dylan Thomas turned up 2,640,000 results in 21 seconds, which proves how much the world loves the cadence of the spoken wordsmiths. Here for your enjoyment are the first two stanzas of "Child's Christmas":

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.


December 02, 2010
The bio at EF's website states," Elyse Fenton is the author of Clamor (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2010), selected by D.A. Powell as winner of the 2009 Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize. Winner of the 2008 Pablo Neruda Award from Nimrod International Literary Journal, her poetry and nonfiction have also appeared in such journals as Bat City Review, The Iowa Review, The Massachusetts Review, and The New York Times. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Oregon and currently lives in Philadelphia."

The Poetry Center of Cleveland State University tells us Clamor (Cleveland State University Poetry Center New Poetry) was "Written in part while Fentonís husband was deployed as a medic in Baghdad, Clamor loosely follows the narrative arc of weeks breathlessly suspended between imminences: word or silence, return or tragedy, heartbreak or gratitude. Yet these are poems that refuse to be sentimental or didactic. Instead, they marry with lyric ferocity the personal and the political in an examination of language and love in 21st century wartime."

For symmetry, here are the first two stanzas of Clamor.


Staking fencing along the border of the spring
garden I want suddenly to say something about
this word that means sound and soundlessness
at once. The deafening metal of my hammer strikes
wood, a tuning fork tuning my ears to a register
Iím too deaf to understand. Across the yard

each petal dithers from the far pear one white
cheek at a time like one blade of snow into
the next until the yard looks like the sound
of a television screen tuned last night to late-
night static. White as a page or a field where
I often go to find the promise of evidence of you

Go to the BBC article by for more on this lovely poet and the prize she's just won.



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