October 13, 2009 by cosmoakacitizensmith
I’ve been doing gigs in Cwmaman in the valleys near Aberdare, South Wales for years, thanks to promoters Bronwen Davies AKA Little Eris and Vic Doyle.
But I’d never heard of poet and one-time Cwmaman resident Alun Lewis until I was asked to work with some local people there and set readings of his work to music.
Lewis was a left-leaning pacifist and a school teacher until asked to fight in the Second World War. Sensing a duty to fight fascism, he changed his views on violence and got stationed in India. He died there tragically in a shooting accident before the war ended.
His poems use dense, complex language to describe valleys life and life in the trenches. It’s all there: war, poverty, politics……and love, of course. Lots about that!
Vic and I recorded local residents reading his poems and then and added music in the background.
You can hear the results by clicking on the link below. Don’t expect some nobby BBC poetry nonsense – these are real people reading real poems in the accent they were conceived in!
Vic and I cornered people in the nearby institute, in the church and on the way to work. We also got kids off the street who were playing and got then to do a turn. It’s a real slice of life.
Cwmaman is now known as hometown of the Stereophonics. But, like some other places in the valleys, it has had more of its fair share of social problems caused by the collapse of traditional industries and patterns of life.
The challenge with these recordings was to create something that celebrates the past and reconnects people to it, while acknowledging the present and looking forward to the future.
All the recordings are of Alun Lewis’ work, but the final word – a tribute – goes to Cardiff poet Emma Williams, whose website is here. There are also two recording of readings set to music from a locally-produced DVD. In addition, one poem, “Monologue,” is read in English and Welsh, courtesy of a translation by Nicola Soal.
Everyone who took part in this project hopes you enjoy listening!
Just follow this link:
Alun Lewis Project (NB click on the “Play” button on the title banner – it’s a bit tricky to see!)
Find out more about Alun Lewis by clicking on this link:
Sandor Dus (Cosmo), Vic Doyle, Mike Rosser, Marion Parry, Terry Clarke, Geraint Davies, Helen Roberts, Lee Davies, Mark Williams, Brian James, Nicola Soal, Angela Olden, Keighley Taylor, Peter Mumford, Tim Berry, Dave Sewell, Jo James, Joel Lloyd-Roberts, Anthony Lee Buffalo. Emma Williams.