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First Collection (Brighton, 1972)
Three Young Anglo-Welsh Poets [with Tony Curtis and Duncan Bush]
(Welsh Arts Council, 1974)
Circus (Swansea Poetry Workshop, 1979)
‘He takes the rhetorical voice, circus barker, fairground spieler, bar room slob, using brashness, aggression and plastic-pop ingredients to generate explosive energy. He is utterly and refreshingly urban.’ – Jeff Nuttall, the Guardian, 12 July 1980.
‘Nigel Jenkins’s Circus is a very good poem, a poem for our day and age in a language understandable to all in pub, factory and street .... the poem is not just about the American circus for which he worked, that circus is the symbol of modern America and if you like of the Britain Mrs. Thatcher wishes to create .... A fine poem. I wish everyone would read it.’
– Arthur Clegg, the Morning Star, 1 November 1979.
Song and Dance
(Poetry Wales Press, Bridgend, 1981)
(Megaton Press, Swansea, 1981)
(Galloping Dog Press, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1983)
Common Ground ed. Susan Butler [with Roland Mathias, Robert Minhinnick, John Tripp, Gillian Clarke, Jeremy Hooker and Anne Stevenson] (Poetry Wales Press, Bridgend, 1985)
Love is a Four-Letter Word [with Dave Hughes and Penny Windsor] (Lovebards Press, Swansea, 1988)
Glas-Nos: Cerddi Dros Heddwch/Poems for Peace ed. with Menna Elfyn
(CND Cymru, Machynlleth, 1987)
Acts of Union: Selected Poems 1974–1989
(Gomer Press, Llandysul, 1990)
‘ ... in the Welsh culture, more than in most, the lyrical, the humorous and the indignant can easily be blended into art – Dafydd ap Gwilym himself was incomparably lyrical about nature, extremely funny about his own weaknesses and properly upset when, for instance, Hickyn, Jenkyn and Jack the Englishmen slandered him at the inn. Firmly in this agreeable tradition stands Nigel Jenkins, one of the most strongly Welsh of the Welsh poets now writing in English .... The whole collection is ... elevated by a truly Dafydd-like celebration of the natural order .... The humour is of a blackish and very Welsh kind .... Finally there is the anger, mostly sad anger, concerned sometimes with the fate of Wales and its language, sometimes with the fate of the world at large .... Welsh readers will easily respond to the emotions of this book. Readers outside Wales will learn from it something of the bitter passion that has recently been driving gifted Welshmen of both languages. But in the end it is the poetry that counts, and there are some lovely lines here, and some thoughts of the kind that takes us, as poetry should, somewhere beyond ourselves and our countries.’
– Jan Morris, the Independent, 9 June 1990. [ excerpt ]
The Cosmic Gnomes (Swansea City Council, 1991)
The Works ed. (Welsh Union of Writers, Cardiff, 1992)
Khasia in Gwalia ed., an anthology of poetry and prose from the Khasi Hills
(Alun Books, Port Talbot, 1995)
‘ ... Khasia in Gwalia is something of a literary coup. This is a considerable book which in part celebrates Swansea’s UK Year of Literature and Writing tour of Wales by five writers (and three musicians) from the Khasi Hills in north-east India.
More especially it gives us an invaluable sample of their poetry and prose, comprehensively introduced over some ten pages by an editor fired with passionate energy for his subject. The effect of this is seductive .... It is an additional bonus to find that much of the Khasi poetry is vivid, original and extremely evocative of a distant and mysterious hemisphere.’ – Tim Liardet, Llais Llyfrau / Book News from Wales.
(Gomer Press, Llandysul, 1998)
‘Nigel Jenkins is one of the few poets ... to have made the front pages of the London newspapers. [ article ] The occasion for this was his poem for George Thomas, Viscount Tonypandy, a blistering piece of satire on self-hating anti-Welsh political grandeeism. One of the great political poems of recent years, it appeared in Jenkins’ last collection Ambush ..., and remains a devastating tour de force.’ – Patrick McGuinness, PN Review 151, 2003.
‘Jenkins is a disturbing poet: he shoots off at tangents, his voice ranges from awed whisper to indignant roar, his politics are unashamedly radical and confrontational, his taste for experiment is seemingly limitless. He seeks engagement – with life, the universe and everything – with total commitment. He gets in your face, and he laughs a lot …. His work is rich in suggestion because he is a shape-changer of a poet; his forms vary from haiku-like conciseness to incantatory bardic declamation, taking in along the way lyrics, ballads, metaphysical musings, sensuous explorations of love and nature, and controlled but furious assaults on distorted values …. this is a risk-taking poet who eschews no form and inhabits all territories.’ – Alun Rees, Poetry Wales. [ excerpt ]
Blue, 101 haiku, senryu and tanka
(Planet Books, Aberystwyth, 2002)
‘For some wordsmiths and poets the challenge of writing haiku is scornfully slight, to others it appears perilously fraught. Nigel Jenkins knew that the art was long, that severe self-discipline was needed ... but he also knew that life was not too brief for him to make a successful attempt .... this book has all the hallmarks of a private passion finally blowing the cork out of its bottle .... This is a book both for those who have learnt to appreciate haiku, and equally for those who are not so equipped, providing they are prepared for the modest and uncomplicated charm of this genre.’ – David Cobb, Planet: The Welsh Internationalist, no. 157, February/March 2003.
‘Nigel Jenkins ... has every right to be considered the best contemporary Welsh haikuist .... [He] has acquired that ease of expression in choice of subject matter essential for contemporary haiku to succeed .... he has set himself free from the narrow dictates of the haiku establishment and has created poetry that is succinct, expansive, and in the true spirit of the haiku masters. This book is proof positive that a poet using the haiku form and insight, but engaged with a broader poetic tradition and outlook, can offer haiku poetry to the ‘mainstream’ in a fashion that cannot be rejected on account of its rigidity, or because it belongs to a limited ‘genre’ style .... Overall, this book is that rare thing, a book of haiku poetry that is free of the haiku ‘ghetto’ and capable of competing with any book on the general poetry shelf.’ – Haiku Quarterly.
‘When most mainstream poets write bad haiku and the wider poetry world ignores the form, any book that offers the potential to cross-over must be worthy of attention. Nigel Jenkins’s Blue is the first ever haiku collection from a Welsh publisher and perhaps the most significant individual work to be published in Britain for some time .... What Blue offers contemporary poetry is the chance to see that haiku can be much more than just an exercise in syllable counting. Haiku poets will learn much from reading a collection that moves away from the formulaic phrase/fragement approaches and tired old themes .... Blue is expertly designed and illustrated by David Pearl, with one haiku per page and interspersed with black and white photos. Production values are high, setting new standards for haiku publishing .... If Blue manages to bring good haiku to a wider audience, Jenkins will have done the haiku community a great service.’ – Matt Morden, Presence.
‘Blue ... is a beautifully produced sequence of 101 Haiku, Tanka and Senryu .... Jenkins has produced poems of arresting beauty and precision, able to invoke and present, to express the numinous and the concrete, the suggestion and the snapshot. They dwell in the seams of daily life, bringing the unnoticed or the irrelevant into view.’ – Patrick McGuinness, PN Review 151, 2003. [ excerpt ]
A Body of Questions (Red Pagoda Press, Pennsylvania, 2002)
(Gomer Press, Llandysul, 2006)
'Why isn't Nigel Jenkins better known over the border? He's a splendid poet who's doing great things with language and yet he's not a name that's as familiar to readers in Beccles and Eccles as he should be. Well, maybe this book will enhance Jenkins's standing, because it would be a real shame for Eccles and Beccles to miss out on this fine writer. What I like about Nigel Jenkins is his enthusiasm and his wonderful phrase-making; [...] he carries you along with his desire to explore his subject from every angle and to leave you with lines that lodge in your ear and won't go away and, more importantly, help you to understand the world.'
– Ian McMillan, The New Welsh Review (Winter 2006, No. 74).
‘Hotel Gwales is an appropriate title for the collection as a whole because it reflects a basic tension discernible in many of Jenkins’s poems between an engaging idealism and (an often unpleasant) reality .... With his ability to trace a line from Wales’s ancient culture to that of the modern-day, as well as his commitment to bridging our linguistic cultures, Nigel Jenkins has produced a highly readable and meaningful contribution to our nation’s literature.’ – Owain Wilkins, Planet: The Welsh Internationalist 179, October/November 2006. [ excerpt ]
O For a Gun
101 Senryu and Haiku, with an essay on the history of the haiku in Wales (Aberystwyth: Planet Books, 2007)
‘These collections [Blue and O For a Gun] zing. When I read these small poems, tingles start up my spine and I feel privileged to be given access to something that feels real and true and important. In each haiku there is something that resonates and I find myself nodding or smiling, or just thinking about things that have been there in front of me all along, but which I’ve never looked at directly. I find myself drawn to Blue and O for a gun and both of these slim volumes are starting to look battered, as I’ve taken them about with me to the cliffs, the river and the beach. I admire and connect with this work, but unlike other poems, which can leave me feeling a bit morose (not meaning to look so directly at you, T. S. Eliot) these have the effect of making me ponder and grin for days.’ – Lisa Glass, Vulpes Libris, November 2007 [ website review ] [ excerpt ]
Haiku Poetry from Wales, edited by Nigel Jenkins, Ken Jones and Lynne Rees
(Gomer Press, Llandysul, 2011)
‘This is a fine collection of interest not only for its high-quality content and good production but also because of the interesting directions one's thoughts are led.’ – Charles Trumbull, Modern Haiku 42.2, Summer 2011.
‘With the publication of Another Country, announced on the back cover as the ‘first Welsh national anthology of haiku poetry’, Wales has formally entered the [haiku] stream. Here we find haiku and haiku-related forms (haibun, tanka and one somonka) that are dark, humorous and mischievous; haiku that focus on marriage, neighbours and family; and haiku dealing with the more traditional evocations of loss, loneliness, and the linking of nature to human nature .... What makes this volume stand out is the amount of space given to the haibun, a combination of narrative or imaginative prose and haiku.’ Christien Gholson, Planet: The Welsh Internationalist 203, August 2011.
‘I have been fascinated by this book since buying my copy. This is an important contribution, not only to Welsh literature in English but also to all writing of haiku and its related forms in the English language …. The three editors, who are established writers of haiku and related forms, present the work of forty contemporary poets, all of whom are 'of Wales' as a matter of birth and/or present/past residence. It is primarily an English-language publication, in which the great majority of the work has been written in English …. this book qualifies as 'Welsh writing in English' ... But this is not to say that the writing is only 'about Wales' and 'for the Welsh'. Neither of these constraining conditions applies. Sometimes the subject is in some specific sense Welsh ... More generally, this is poetry of a quality and character that speaks to us all, and in many tones of voice. One distinguishing feature of the volume is that it includes not only many individual haiku but also several haibun, as well as a few tanka and one sōmonka. Another is that it includes an excellent editorial apparatus that supports a reading of the poetic writing and also places the volume culturally and historically. This apparatus includes an editorial introduction and a short preliminary note on the haiku and its related forms, and, following the main body of poetic works, a note on haiku poetry in Wales, and bibliographic notes on all the contributors. The note (really a short essay) at the end of the volume is a valuable contribution to the English-language literature on the development of the haiku and related forms, not only in Wales but in the whole of Britain …. Finally, the book's title is so interesting. There is nothing casual about it. 'Another Country' invites interpretation in 'not only but also' terms. Perhaps, not only Britain and especially not only Japan, but also Wales. The subtitle is not 'Welsh haiku poetry' but 'haiku poetry from Wales'. …. the careful wording of the title conveys … something that goes beyond the technical, linguistic and aesthetic judgements of what a non-Japanese haiku might be … this title assumes an ability to accept into one's own cherished cultural identity (Welsh, Scots, Irish, English, Japanese or whatever), and perhaps as a principle of growth, something from the outside.’ – Paul Griffiths, Shakkei, the Journal of the Japanese Garden Society, 2012.
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