Professor John Goodby of Swansea University’s English department, an international expert on the work of Dylan Thomas, will be on stage at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival on 29 March, giving a lecture on the life and work of Swansea’s famous poet.

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Professor Goodby’s lecture is part of Dylan Thomas Day at the Festival, marking the poet’s centenary year.  The Festival, which runs from 28 March to 6 April, features award-winning plays, cabaret nights, specially-commissioned poetry cinema, and poetry bands.

Dylan Thomas was a favourite of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, 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.

John Goodby at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive

Professor Goodby (pictured left, with his book on Dylan Thomas, at the poet’s childhood home, Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea), who is himself one of Wales’s leading poets, recently wrote the first full-length study of Thomas’s poetry to appear since the 1960s: The Poetry of Dylan Thomas: Under the Spelling Wall. 

He is currently working on a new edition of Thomas’s poems, which will bring together all his work in one volume for the first time. The aim is to re-interpret Dylan Thomas in an early twenty-first century context.

Professor Goodby said:

'Dylan Thomas is a poet who speaks to the present in a vivid way. To the reading public he 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 as far afield as the USA, Canada, Japan, Poland and Australia.'

Anna Saunders, founder and executive director of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, said:

'Poetry is a powerful thing. It can entertain, delight, inspire and transform.
Whether we are experiencing it on the page, writing it ourselves, sitting back and enjoying a reading or watching a slam, it can enrich our lives.
Imagine its power when coupled with other art forms. Since our launch in 2010 we have aimed to give you an all-singing, all-dancing festival – one that fuses poetry and music, film, drama and visual art.'

Professor Goodby’s talk will be at 11am on Saturday 29th March in The Everyman Studio.  More information.

Dylan Thomas bookSwansea University is involved in a wide range of activities relating to Dylan Thomas, in the lead-up to the centenary of his birth in October 2014.

  • Principal sponsor of the International Dylan Thomas Prize – this international prize, now in its seventh year, is open to any published author in the English language aged 39 or under.  The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in Swansea in November.  Shortlisted writers will be working with school students and community groups
  • Taking literature to the wider world - our poets, novelists, dramatists and critics will take their work to the wider world through literary festivals, including Hay, during 2014
  • International academic conference -  "Dylan Unchained", at Swansea University in September 2014
  • New edition of Dylan Thomas’s poetry - publication of a new and authorised complete edition, edited by Professor John Goodby
  • Dylan Thomas in Chinese – the University and the City and County of Swansea are funding a visit in April/May 2014 by Chinese poet Wu Fu-Sheng, based in the USA, who will be working on the first substantial translation of Thomas’s poetry into Mandarin Chinese.

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