Dr John Goodby, a Senior Lecturer in Swansea University's College of Arts and Humanities, has recently won an award to complete a new edition of the collected poems of Dylan Thomas for publication in 2014, the centenary of Thomas's birth.
The Prestigious AHRC Fellowship, worth £86,000, will enable Dr Goodby to visit holdings of Dylan Thomas manuscripts in US university libraries at Buffalo, N.Y. and Austin, Texas among other locations.
Dr Goodby, an international expert on the poet, is also publishing the first full-length study of Thomas’s poetry to appear since the 1960s. The Poetry of Dylan Thomas: Under the Spelling Wall will be published in Spring 2013 with Liverpool University Press.
Both works aim to re-interpret Dylan Thomas in an early twenty-first century context. Unlike the ninety-one poems of the last edition of Thomas, the new edition will include over 200 poems. The new edition will also present the poems in chronological order of composition, allowing readers to trace Thomas’s development.
Dr Goodby said: “At the moment, a reader who wants to access all of Thomas's poems requires no less than six volumes; my new edition will collect the poems published in journals, or which appear in the letters and short stories, as well as the film script in verse, Our Country, and bring them together for the first time in a single volume.
“Dylan Thomas is a poet who speaks to the present in a vivid way, informing contemporary mainstream and the avant-garde poetry. Although some literary critics have tended to obscure this over the last thirty years - Thomas is currently neglected in academia - to the reading public, however, Thomas has always been an important poet. His unique status as a cultural icon is part of what interests me. Thomas’s poetry was more translated than that of any other English language poet of the twentieth century apart from T. S. Eliot, and Dylan Thomas societies flourish in as far afield as the USA, Canada, Japan, Poland and Australia.”
Thomas's anticipation of the perils of celebrity in his own early death are part of what made him a favourite of the Beatles, former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and film and rock stars such as Cerys Matthews and George Clooney (who recites 'And Death Shall Have No Dominion' in full in his film Solaris). Significantly, he was the first poet to work in all the broadcast and recording media of his time - radio, film, LP and television - and his unique status as a difficult poet, who nevertheless has mass appeal, has made him an enduring cultural icon.
Dr Goodby said, “That status rests on the solid foundation of poetry which emphasises the importance of our bodily existence, the material nature of language, and the importance of play in freeing the imagination - qualities which enabled him to invoke poetry's most archaic roots, and to anticipate our own electronic age.”
Director of the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities, Professor Chris Williams said, “2014 is sure to be a year in which the life, work and legacy of Dylan Thomas will all be discussed and debated. John Goodby's new edition is sure to rejuvenate and reorientate much of what we feel and think about one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century.”
- Thursday 12 July 2012 00.00 GMT
- Wednesday 11 July 2012 16.21 GMT
- Swansea University