Excessive, to say the least . . . certainly un-called-for . . . a fool’s errand.
I’m packing a Welsh poet in my bag for my upcoming trip to Wales, which will include, if weather permits, a boat trip to Bardsey. The island lies off the coast of Aberdaron, R. S. Thomas’s last parish.
I’ll take Thomas out of my bag in Aberdaron on May 28th, but he’ll come out, first, the previous weekend at Gladstone’s Library at Hawarden, also in Wales.
The story is this: I may be the only American parish minister who developed a personal relationship with Thomas, visiting him in 1992, 1993, and 1994, and corresponding with him from 1991 until his death, in 2000. Indeed, I may be the only American, no matter of what vocation, who learned to know him – I welcome comments proving me wrong.
My book A Masterwork of Doubting-Belief: R. S. Thomas and His Poetry was published in 2013, during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of his birth. That publication has led to my forthcoming speaking opportunities in Wales.
An American whose tongue does back flips when trying to pronounce simple Welsh words, carrying the preeminent poet of Welshness to Wales; the preeminent twentieth-century poet of God, too.
And that, if anything, justifies the packing of nine talks about Thomas and his poetry in my bag. Like RS, I’m an ordained minister; like him, I was a parish minister for forty years; like him, I’m a doubting-believer. Unlike him, I’m an American. Unlike him, I don’t write poetry. Well, an occasional limerick. So if there’s an acceptable reason for me to speak about RS and his poems, it lies in the way our similarities and dissimilarities afford me a distinctive perspective on his doubt and his belief.
These links will take you to what I’m doing at Gladstone’s Library and Aberdaron:
Who knows what’ll happen. Perhaps I’ll be pelted with leeks. Expect a report in June.