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White clouds of words: The Borzello Trust gifts another posie of poetry to Welsh Libraries

18 Feb 2024 4 minute read
Wild Cherry – Selected Poems by Nigel Jenkins is published by Parthian Books

Welsh Libraries and a number of school Sixth Forms across Wales will be receiving copies of Wild Cherry, the selected poems of the late Nigel Jenkins, as the result of a generous bequest from The Borzello Trust.

Nigel Jenkins(1949-2014) was one of Wales’s leading writers: a poet and essayist, he was also a political activist, teacher, mentor, broadcaster, playwright, translator, psychogeographer and critic.

He won the Wales Book of the Year prize for his travel book Gwalia in Khasia – the story of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists Mission to the Khasi Hills in north-east India. In 2001, he published a selection of his essays and articles as Footsore on the Frontier.

He was a co editor of the Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales, and a noted literary translator from Welsh.

He was director of Swansea University’s Masters programme in Creative Writing and also worked for Trinity College, Carmarthen, the Workers’ Educational Association, and Tŷ Newydd, the National Writing Centre of Wales.

Nigel Jenkins image by Bernard Mitchell

The Borzello Trust is continuing with its initiative to support the publication of Welsh poetry and a wider distribution of the new work of Welsh poets.

Trust founder Bob Borzello said: ‘The Borzello Trust is proud to help enable the work of this important Welsh poet to be available to library users in Wales and England. The Trust’s Welsh Poetry Project has two objectives.

First, to make the work of Welsh poets, especially new ones, available immediately through local libraries and schools. Second, to provide guaranteed sales for small independent publishers so that they can more readily publish new work.’

In recent years the trust has worked with several Welsh poets. In 2015, an anthology of poetry and photographs inspired by aspects of the Conwy valley in north Wales was published by the trust as a result of a poetry residency in the valley.

The project has also distributed As If To Sing by Paul Henry, Pearl and Bone by Mari Ellis Dunning, Hymnal by Julia Bell and Moon Jellyfish Can Hardly Swim by Ness Owen to libraries throughout Wales.


Jenkin’s daughter, musician and composer Angharad Jenkins said “I’m thrilled and very grateful to the Borzello Trust and to Parthian for distributing Wild Cherry out to libraries and schools across Wales.

“Many young people will be familiar with the poem ‘Wild Cherry’ through the syllabus, but may not have encountered any other poems by Nigel. This support from the Borzello Trust will enable a new generation to discover my father’s poetry.

“There’s so much in this collection to inspire poetry readers of all ages. I’m just delighted and bursting with pride, that my father’s poetry will be able to be enjoyed by a wider audience.”

Nigel Jenkins’s body of work is remarkable not just for the range of its forms and occasions, but for the variety of its literary, cultural and political commitments.

He campaigned for Welsh devolution and international solidarity with the same sense of purpose as he campaigned against nuclear power, militarism and racism.

A politically- and culturally committed poet he was unafraid to be satirical, or epic, or polemical, or to be simply and frankly angry.

Duty to engage

Wild Cherry contains love poems and poems of desire, lyric poems and public poems for public spaces, occasional poems that transcend their occasions, merciless satires, and poems that borrow epic voices, whether of bravado or lament, and retool them for today’s challenges.

There are poems written in the spirit of high-intellectual play and urgent poems about environmental degradation, militarism, nuclear folly, imperialism and capitalism. There is beauty and precision, outrage and indignation, savage wit and deep empathy.

The book also contains a number of Jenkins’s translations from the Welsh – a reflection of his commitment to the bilingualism and biculturalism of his country, and to the idea of a community of poets.

A sense of history underpins Nigel Jenkins’s writing, but it is the present that propels it. In that sense, his poetry and prose are part of a single, albeit various, oeuvre.

They are the work of a writer who believed that poetry has a duty to engage with the world as it is, while holding out the imaginative possibilities of what it can be.

Wild Cherry by Nigel Jenkins, edited with an introduction by Patrick McGuinness, is published by Parthian Books.

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