This lecture on Dylan Thomas really brought the poet’s work alive for the audience. Leaving behind his wild lifestyle, Owen Sheers homed in on the richness and brilliance of his use of language and form. Thomas was a “seismic event in English language poetry, often taken to heart by people who don’t read any other poetry”. Sheers’s delivery, with his quick wit helped explain the form and musicality of poetry in an accessible way. For Thomas, what mattered was “the sound of the words”. We were treated to several readings of Thomas’s poems, from Sheers and others including Andrew Motion (on film).
Dylan Thomas “works out of memory and out of the landscape itself” according to Sheers. He’s a huge fan, though he confesses to be a bit fed up with the public’s idea of Thomas, a one man male voice choir on the page. He was a poet who took risks, his writing lost him readers as a result. Sheers finds that Thomas’s later poetry, whilst thinner on the ground was of much finer quality. The final reading was of the great poem, ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’, a response to the death of his father. It was read by Paul Muldoon. and there was more than a murmur of appreciation from the audience. “That’s what Dylan Thomas does to an audience.”