Potentially Perfect Poetic Place
I’m writing this in my hall of residence room and I’m beginning to think about where I want to live after my contract here ends in mid-September. I pondered a 4th-floor flat in Castle Lofts which sounded to me like a perfect artist’s garret ... though being only a stone’s throw from McDonalds I suspect it’d be very noisy during the day and awash with drunken students at night! Plus the thought of getting my bins and recycling down from the 4th floor didn't really appeal ... I’m on the 4th floor of my hall of residence and although the bins and recycling is taken out every week, the lifts don’t always work so something a little closer to the ground is probably better.
The location of this hall of residence is wonderful. I love waking in the morning to hear the gulls calling out. It is the same where my parents live in Abergavenny where I wake to the songs of other birds. They are a delightful reminder of the beauty of the countryside now I can’t see it with my eyes. I’ve made an appointment to go look at a property tomorrow that is no more than probably 50m from where I lived for 2 years after graduating in chemistry in 1994. It is an area I can still visualise, even though many of the shops and eating establishments have changed name. I visited the street yesterday and, as I asked my assistant where we were, she said we were nearly there and we were near a pharmacy ... ‘Is the pharmacy over there?’ I asked, gesturing towards 11-o’clock. She confirmed it was so I added, ‘so the Uplands Tavern is probably about there,’ pointing towards 3-o’clock ... and indeed it was!
My biggest failing during the last year is not to have regained my confidence in walking places unaccompanied. I go everywhere with a sighted guide. It’s not that I can’t get places, it’s that I’m terrified about getting lost if I lose my bearings. If I can rent a place in an area I can still very clearly picture in my mind, I’d feel a lot more confident about being able to get out and about by myself.
The Poetic Connection
Between 1996 and 1998 I lived on Glanmor Crescent. It didn’t really have a back garden but the back of the property bordered Cwmdonkin Park, the location of poems like The Hunchback in the Park by Dylan Thomas. The house I lived in with four friends was mid-way between two entrances to the park, each no more than two dozen paces from the park.
Cwmdonkin Park is in the Uplands residential area to the west of the city of Swansea. It covers an area of 13 acres and has a Grade II listing as a well preserved Victorian urban public park, which retains much of its original layout. [...]
The park is famous primarily for its associations with Dylan Thomas but the history of its creation also covers an interesting period in Swansea’s history when the city’s water supply and public parks were being developed by the municipal authorities. Cwmdonkin Park grew up around Cwmdonkin Reservoir [...] The formation of the park is part of the general movement seen from the 1830s onwards to secure for the people some green open spaces in increasingly industrial towns.
(Samantha Edwards, A History of Cwmdonkin Park. From Dissertation for Diploma in Local History, University of Wales Swansea, August 1991.)
Any time I walked from my rental house to Cwmdonkin Park I passed by the birthplace and residence of Dylan Thomas. I like to think that poetic influence pervaded the air that I breathed as I walked past and maybe that’s why my poetry life has taken off now, eleven years later :)
Arguably the most famous house in Welsh literature [5 Cwmdonkin Drive] - the house where one of the most celebrated poets and writers of the 20th century was born, spent the first 23 years of his life and first put pen to paper. Experience his little bedroom where Dylan's creative talent blossomed
Meanwhile the dissertation work continues and the next time I’m due to read in public will be at Live Poets on 1st July at Cinema and Co in Swansea :)