BLOG Kaja Brown

NWR Issue 119

Love Welsh Poetry, A Journey Like No Other

Welsh love spoon from Ceredigion Museum Welsh Valentines Season poetry trail

A poetry trail involves printed-off poems being hidden around a place for you to discover. I hadn’t been on one before so wasn’t sure what to expect as I entered Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth on a rainy winter Sunday. There is something eerie and mystical about this museum; something haunting about the dark rooms inhabited by history, or the way in which bodiless chattering from the café fills the old red theatre, making it feel like you’ve stepped into a curious Angela Carter tale. It’s both beautiful and intriguing.

The two ladies at the box office desk were perfectly nice and normal as they informed me that love- themed poems for Valentines Season (the period between the Welsh Santes Dwynwen – 25 January – and the more commercial Saint Valentine’s Day on 14 February) were dotted around the exhibits. They pointed me in the right direction as I embarked on the strangest game of hide and seek I’ve ever had.

The fist love-poem I found was in the Chemist. As I would discover, this poem, ‘See him stand among the myrtles’, by Ann Griffiths, would be the only poem in the building with a typically romantic view on love. This seemed fittingly placed as it was surrounded by bottles and remedies, as if reading this poem was a different form of medicine to take, perhaps to aid an aching heart.

This was the first clue to a bigger picture that was emerging, for upon finding the second poem, I realised that these poems had been placed in correlation with the exhibit, so that your surroundings support the content of the pieces.

I felt this most strongly in the dark room at the back of the museum, where a small old bed and books are hidden. Entering is like losing yourself in a timeless vacuum where the noise of the museum is sucked away and the present day is lost. The poem in here, simply titled, ‘I’, was written by RS Thomas, and is a tortured piece with brilliant imagery. The piece begins with: ‘I imagine it: Two people, A bed; I was not There.’ I glanced over at the dark bed in the shadows of the room and felt immersed in the poem as the narrator talks of their painful, unreciprocated love in a grim fashion that reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe. There are hints at a greater story in this poem, of pregnancy, misjustice, and insanity, which fascinated me as I read it over a second time. This was probably my favourite piece in the exhibit: it came alive in the dark room.

The rest of the poems were positioned in a similarly fitting manner; with one about a women’s love for her chicken in the barn, and a poem about a woman’s seafaring lover next to the sailor exhibit, ETC. I won’t tell you where to find any more of the poems as I strongly encourage you to try out the exhibit yourself, which will be running up Valentine’s Day evening. It is an immersive and fascinating way of reading poetry which I had not experienced before. Also, if you can find the connection between the poem on marriage and its place among machinery, do let me know via the NWR editor. And good luck!

Kaja Brown is an undergraduate in the Department of English and Creative Writing and is a blogger-in-residence for New Welsh Review.

This exhibition runs until Thursday 14 February 2019.


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