NWR Issue 54

Prologue to an adventure

These are grave times, and naturally the contents of this issue of New Welsh Review are marked by terrible events and the awareness of what may befall our intricately interlinked world in the weeks and months to come. I say naturally, because there were no editorial nudges to contributors. When one reads the publications of Wales from the 1930s, such as Keidrych Rhys's Wales, or the Swansea and West Wales Guardian (to think of two to which Dylan Thomas contributed), the longing for peace and social justice, and the terrible weight of foreboding, are still clear and dominant tones. The writers of Wales expressed their responses to the times with dignity and passion, and some of their voices still echo in this issue of New Welsh Review.

One realises with enormous sadness that the horror of what was to come (the holocaust, nuclear strikes and so on) was worse than it was possible to imagine in the late 1930s. Yeats came as close as any imaginative writer, but his vision of an educated elite riding on their machines to war against the masses and the dispossessed seems closer to our times than to his. Auden's work at the outbreak of World War II is in the minds of many these days, for its bleak humane sweetness catches just how we are reminded unbearably of our mortality, and of those whom we love.

The months since our last issue have been historic in various ways that are reflected within, directly or indirectly. New York and Northern Ireland drew undemonstrative and moving poems. There have been extraordinary rows this summer: those raising the alarm about the Welsh language, it has been suggested, were 'like nazis'. Meanwhile, real nazis organised and acted in Wales, and those who protested at this were searched and filmed by the police. Matters of language and identity are raised here by Isabel Adonis and Jane Aaron; Keith Trick recalls for us his father's political influence on Dylan Thomas, with whom he witnessed the storming of Mosley's Swansea HQ.

There is a loose Dylan Thomas theme to this issue, which was planned with Swansea's Dylan Thomas festival in mind. New Welsh Review, like its predecessor the Anglo-Welsh Review, has always been eclectic, reflecting the intellectual breadth and liveliness of its writers and their society, and the astute selection of Robin Reeves in particular. My aim has been to discover (and not to impose) an overall coherence in the richly varied material available, to give an attractive shapeliness to the magazine without spoiling its character. In any case the force of Thomas's literary and radical challenge to his contemporaries in Swansea, Wales and beyond has been a large part of my inspiration in the editor's chair.

I am proud to follow in the footsteps of Belinda Humfrey, Michael Parnell, and, especially, Robin Reeves. I am very grateful indeed for Robin's encouragement. I also have the support of a decisively reorganised editorial board, and new Consultant Editors. For the last three years Mercer Simpson has worked meticulously and in confidence as our poetry reader, and many, many thanks are due to him. And it's thanks, again, to the devoted and consistent work of Jeni Williams that we are now able to broaden and develop our theatre coverage.

Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, our new poetry editor, is pictured on the cover, and she is introduced by critics Nathalie Wourm and Ivan Phillips. The writing on Ian Sinclair, too, I present with excitement and some pride. As you read on, the full significance of the Dylan Thomas theme will, I hope, become clear. It's a statement about substance, style and promise. This is, as Thomas put it, the 'prologue to an adventure'.


previous editorial: A prospect of the sea
next editorial: A Difficult Time


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