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Bibliographical Information
Moor Music
Mike Jenkins
ISBN: 9781854115355 (1854115359)Publication Date November 2010
Publisher: Seren, Bridgend
Format: Paperback, 216x138 mm, 72 pages Language: English Non-Stock Item - Ordered on request Our Price: £8.99 
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Moor Music is the new collection of poems by a previous Wales Book of the Year winner, Mike Jenkins and features work in open forms by this innovative and politically engaged writer.

Casgliad newydd o gerddi gan fardd arobryn o Ferthyr Tudful. Ceir yma gerddi mewn mesurau gwahanol.
This is the latest of many poetry collections from the prolific poet, novelist, teacher and short-story writer, Mike Jenkins. Originally from Aberystwyth, he has been identified with Merthyr Tydfil for many years. ‘The boy who saw Penderyn’, his story in the recent anthology Never Mind the White Socks ... encapsulated his sense of the Merthyr landscape and history, and the poet's empathy with local children. These interests are very evident in this collection of poetry, along with his love of music and his lifelong concern for those who have been marginalised by political and industrial change. Although there are poems which draw on more distant subjects - the hellish tortures of ‘Legacies of Pinochet’ and the lyrical tribute to ‘Mariza, the Fado Singer’ - most poems are rooted in his family and personal experience.

His youngest daughter’s discovery of the world around her is obviously a great inspiration. In ‘Snow, Another Country’ he notes ‘Across the moorland/ she leads the way/into new territory ... the swan-light/the frozen sun/ the thistles’ antennae’. In ‘A Bonfire in Brittany’, a smilar theme is voiced: ‘When the bonfire settles/ to a hive of light she lies on the grass/ as stars press/ honeyed fingerprints on her windfall face.’ In ‘Gyre-Child’ his love of her and jazz come together. The lines on the page mirror her ‘windmilling’.

Throughout this book Jenkins uses the open forms of concrete poetry; strung-out lines wander across the page tracking a lost ram, a dancing child or a skein of winter birds. In ‘Messages’, the last of the poems recalling strife-torn Belfast (where his wife grew up), the lines’ pattern suggests ‘the soldier started/ turning his gun to point’.

As the title indicates, music is a repeated theme. In the opening and title poems, in the more extended ‘To Sing the Common’ (which refers to his daughter's band, Gilespi), and in ‘Kreizenn Ar Son’ there is a brilliant fusion of instrumental and natural sound. In ‘Eyes Tight Shut’ his son’s playing of Elgar’s cello concerto becomes a journey through the cycle of water, and in ‘The Brooding Sleep’ he fuses Saint-Saens’s cello-swan with swans nesting on a Cardiff lake.

If this gives too romantic a view of his work, there is generally a sense of the harsher realities - there is litter in the swans’ nest and there are poems of disgust and indignation at a wounded land and people ‘scrumpled up, thrown away’. Yet the overall impression is of a warm, humane poet of wide sympathies and a delicate, imaginative touch.

Caroline Clark

It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Author Biography:
Mike Jenkins is now a full-time writer and teacher of Creative Writing, after spending over 30 years teaching in Secondary education.

He is former editor of ‘Poetry Wales’ and is co-editor and founder of ‘Red Poets’ magazine, which has been going for 15 years. He has won an Eric Gregory Award, Welsh Arts Council Young Writers’ Prize, John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry and, in 1998, the Wales Book of the Year for Wanting to Belong (Seren), a book of interlinked stories.

His novella for teenagers ‘The Climbing Tree’ will be published by Pont in Feb. 2010.

He has appeared at the Hay Festival and Aldeburgh Festivals, has had a BBC programme dedicated to his work, and has read many of his poems on TV and Radio.

A number of his stories have been adapted for radio and a book of stories 'Wanting to Belong' was made into a drama on BBC Wales and also dramatised for a Channel 4 education programme. He has his own website and ‘blogs’ on a regular basis.

He also writes regularly for the Cardiff City FC fanzine 'Watch the Bluebirds Fly' and the political magazine 'Celyn' (left-leaning) where he reviews music from Wales. He also organizes a monthly poetry event in Merthyr which includes a guest reader and an ‘open mic’ element.
Further Information:
In this innovative new book of poetry Mike Jenkins continues his life-long obsession with the history and fate of Wales, embodied, in this instance by both the glories of the landscape and the depredations suffered by the old industrial valleys in their years of decline. In contrast, his career in teaching left him with a sense of optimism about young people, about the prospect of change and with an eagerness to embrace changing times. These poems, like his prize-winning short stories, are full of colourful characters, dialogue, and incident. His sensitive awareness of the natural world, or what is available of the natural world in an urban context, is also frequently poingnant.

Author of seven previous poetry collections for Seren he has also published a novel The Fugitive Three, published by (Cinnamon Press 2008) and a collection of short fiction Child of Dust (Gomer). He has also published work for children, two novellas called Barbsmashive and the latest The Climbing Tree (both Pont) and a collection of poetry - Poems for Underage Thinkers (Pont) .
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