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Devolutionary Readings

English-Language Poetry and Contemporary Wales


Matthew Jarvis

The September 1997 vote approving devolution, albeit by a tiny margin, was a watershed moment in recent Welsh history. This volume of essays considers the English-language poetic life of Wales since that point. Addressing a range of poets who are associated with Wales by either birth or residence and have been significantly active in the post-1997 period, it seeks to understand the various ways in which Wales’s Anglophone poetic life has been intertwined both with devolutionary matters specifically and the life of contemporary Wales more generally, as well as providing detailed scrutiny of work by key figures. The purpose of the book is thus to offer insights into how English-language poetry and contemporary Wales intersect, exploring the contours of a diverse and vibrant poetic life that is being produced at a time of important cultural and political developments within Wales as a whole.

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4. Devolutionary Complexities: Reading Three New Poets (Matthew Jarvis)


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4   Devolutionary Complexities: Reading Three New Poets

ABSTRACT This chapter discusses the work of three recent arrivals on Wales’s Anglophone poetry scene: Jonathan Edwards (My Family and Other Superheroes, 2014), Dai George (The Claims Office, 2013) and Katherine Stansfield (Playing House, 2014). Drawing in particular on research in the field of political science about attitudes towards Welsh devolution, it argues that an understanding of post-devolution Wales as complex, multiple and even potentially contradictory is crucial to an analysis of Wales’s contemporary Anglophone poetic life. It suggests that, taken together, these three new writers encapsulate a range of subject positions and concerns that cannot easily be mapped onto any single headline trajectory of post-devolution Wales. Rather, this chapter seeks to claim that the relationship between Wales’s devolutionary direction and Anglophone Welsh poetry remains, as yet, both ambiguous and very difficult to assess.

Devolutionary Complexities

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