Dylan Thomas at 100 / Getting hooked on crime fiction

Today, 27. October 2014, is the 100th birthday of poet Dylan Marlais Thomas. As I live in Swansea, just around the corner from where he was born, I thought I’d mark his centenary on the blog.

Today I was lucky enough to have a tour of 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, the lovingly restored Thomas family home, which I would heartily recommend. Here are some photos to give you an idea:

The bedroom where Dylan Thomas was born…100 years ago today

Dylan’s TINY bedroom and a reconstruction of his writing desk

They made him an awesome birthday cake! With smarties!

And for the last few days, the city has been buzzing with all manner of Dylan events, from the Do Not Go Gentle festival (featuring Danish band Eggs Laid by Tigers, who set Dylan’s poetry to music) to the Dylathon at the Swansea Grand Theatre, a non-stop, 36-hour reading of Dylan’s writings and works. I’m very excited to be heading to the final session tonight, which features Ian McKellen, Sian Phillips, Katherine Jenkins and The Morriston Orpheus Choir, amongst others.

AND … last night Port Talbot boy Michael Sheen’s production of Under Milk Wood was broadcast live from the 92nd Street Y in New York, the same venue where the only recording of the piece with Dylan Thomas was made in 1953. It’s a vivid, humorous and moving evocation of a day in the life of a Welsh town called Llareggub (spell it backwards…!) and is well worth a listen. My favourite character is Mr. Pugh, who yearns to murder his cold, nagging wife: ‘Alone in the hissing laboratory of his wishes, Mr. Pugh … mixes especially for Mrs. Pugh a venomous porridge unknown to toxicologists which will scald and viper through her until her ears fall off like figs, her toes grow big and black as balloons, and steam comes screaming out of her navel’. And there we have our link to crime! It’s always there if you look closely enough…

Marina Sofia interview photo (1)

In other news, the lovely Marina Sofia invited me to take part in her ‘what got you hooked on crime’ interview series. It was great to be asked and I had a lot of fun answering her questions. If you’d like to see my responses, they are over at her findingtimetowrite blog, and take in most of the books featured on the pile above. Perhaps you have some views on my choices?

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17 thoughts on “Dylan Thomas at 100 / Getting hooked on crime fiction

  1. Light breaks where no sun shines . . . seems like rather a good description of noir (though thanks to your post I understand a bit about Under Milk Wood for the first time, which always baffled me in ways the poetry didn’t. One Christmas in my teens I gave my brother Dylan Thomas’s Collected Poems and he got a very funny look on his face when I unwrapped his present to me – Dylan Thomas’s Collected Poems, still on my bookshelf.

    • What a lovely story! Some kind of sibling mind-meld going on there.

      Confession time: I’d never fully read or heard Under Milk Wood before the recent broadcast. It was a bit of a revelation, partly because I’ve lived in Wales long enough now to ‘recognize’ aspects of the town, and partly because there was such a wonderful use of language and humour. Converted on the spot.

  2. Lucky Mrs (Dr) P! Thank you for the pix, permitting the rest of us a virtual tour.
    Love Dylan Thomas, always have. One of my favourite related memories was of visiting our beloved GP/family friend (a renowned former Wales XV player) in hospital to find him reading Thomas’s poetry with great enjoyment.
    I, too, was fortunate enough to catch Michael Sheen’s wondrous, star-studded and unprecedently zestful production of ‘Under Milk Wood’. Favourite lines are those uttered by Mr Mog Edwards (“I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will lie by your side like the Sunday roast.” What red-blooded woman could possibly resist?;-)) When such passion is voiced by Ioan Gruffydd: how did Myfanwy Price fail to respond?! Sadly, I gather that BBC Wales didn’t bother to produce a retail recording. It was surely a production that would have borne repeated viewings.

    • Thanks, Minnie – I did feel very lucky, and am glad to have had the opportunity to get to know DT’s prose a little better. The dialogue in Under Milk Wood is so luscious, life-affirming and funny – those lines you mention are just wonderful. And what a treat that production was. A real shame that the BBC aren’t going to release a recording of it (hope they will reconsider).

  3. Thank you so much for the photographs and the commentary about Dylan Thomas! Celebrations have been ongoing in the US all week as well. I have learned a great deal more about Thomas this week, and I hope the celebrations will see a rekindling of interest in his work. Well, it’s rekindled mine anyway
    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

    • Hello Judith – it’s been great to see all the US celebrations of his legacy. There seem to be particularly strong links with New York and Texas (Texas Uni houses a lot of his writings; a portion have been on tour back here in Swansea at The Dylan Thomas Centre!). I feel like I have a much deeper appreciation of his work now and like you, hope that there is increased interest in future.

  4. I presume again that you’ve seen this but if not … I’m wary of the comparison, as I’ve heard from women that Gone Girl is most unpleasant (for reasons that would be a spoiler to repeat here) so much so that I’ve no desire to read it – I’ve got plenty others from your excellent lists! The Girl on the Train sounds like it is worth a go and I look forward to your recommendation or otherwise. Whatever, there seems to be plenty of content for you in the article.
    Hope you and Kev are enjoying the seasonal break. http://gu.com/p/4fd3k/sbl
    G

    • Thanks for the link, G. I’d seen the article but hadn’t got around to reading it. Interesting…

      Gone Girl seems to be a Marmite experience – you either love or hate it. I thought it was a very clever book and enjoyed its dark humour (those who don’t ‘get’ the humour tend not to like it – and fair enough, as it is very dark in places!). For my money, Gillian Flynn is one of the most original writers in the genre and dares to push boundaries in a way that most writers don’t. Her novel Dark Places was extraordinary (have reviewed on the blog).

      I’ve read Girl on the Train and liked the complex characterisation of the main protagonist very much. I had slight reservations about a couple of other aspects of the narrative, but would definitely recommend.

      Happy New Year to you and yours!

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