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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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Introduction: Wales, Devolution, Poetry (Matthew Jarvis)


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Introduction: Wales, Devolution, Poetry

The outcome of Wales’s 1997 devolution referendum, held on 18 September of that year, was of course one which approved the creation of a Welsh Assembly.1 However, the margin of that approval was incredibly small. As Richard Wyn Jones and Roger Scully observe in their 2012 landmark volume Wales Says Yes: Devolution and the 2011 Welsh Referendum:

In contrast to the thumping majorities in Scotland,2 the Welsh electorate approved devolution [in 1997] by a tiny margin. The outcome remained in doubt until the very final declaration, which left the Yes campaign with a margin of victory of 6,721 votes (a mere 0.3 per cent of the Welsh electorate), on a turnout of just over half those eligible to vote. Greeting the result, a visibly relieved [then Secretary of State for Wales] Ron Davies modestly claimed that it represented ‘a very good morning’ for Wales. He was wise to eschew greater triumphalism. Although the pro-devolution swing from 1979 had been a gargantuan 30.0 percentage points (even greater than the pro-devolution swing over the same time period in Scotland), it was evident that Welsh voters remained to be convinced of the merits of home rule. ← 1 | 2 → 3

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