Ruth Bidgood was born of a North Welsh father and a West Country mother in Seven Sisters, Glamorgan. Educated Port Talbot and Oxford University, in the 60s, after many years away (in Oxford, Alexandria and the London area) she returned to Wales and settled in Powys, where she began writing poetry and local history. Her eighth collection of poems was published by Seren in 2000: the second received a Welsh Arts Council award; the sixth and seventh were shortlisted for the Welsh Arts Council Book of the Year Award in 1993 and 1997. Ruth has had poems and historical articles in various journals. Her recent collection, Time Being, was a Poetry Society Recommendation and won the Roland Matthias Prize 2010. Above the Forests marks Ruth’s 90th birthday.
In Above the Forest, perspectives of ordinary life, rendered with this poet’s effortlessly questing precision, serve as means of further discovery. Her writing has always shown ‘how different is real / from ordinary’. As she says, “to feel bounded is our only way of being with things, because we have fewer dimensions than actually exist…but we can feel the boundary sometimes being transcended.” In these poems, the lie of Welsh land, local and family history, social pressures, the promptings of dream and of scientific speculation are all evoked, serving to draw the reader, often literally step by step, into processes of questioning, self-questioning and an intuitive crossing of boundaries.
Intensity of attention, to the truth both of what is seen and of what is felt, is Ruth Bidgood’s distinctive quality. ... These poems accept a duty to recognise and respond to hidden meanings of neighbourhood. Hence the significance of buildings, bridges, walls, old roads, agricultural relics, whether still in use or abandoned. Minutiae and distant views, along with perceptions that arise from them, are rendered in language unfailingly natural, sharp, often unexpected or humorous and, as befits its communal function, memorable.
Several poems collected here explore speculative aspects of modern science ... these are daring poems, open to speculative thought. And, crucially, they place truth to experience above the ‘dust motes’ of convention. Above the Forest combines deep feeling with keen intelligence.