Unseen work by Dylan's old friend Vernon Watkins
Previously unseen work by poet Vernon Watkins will be published this weekend on the birthday of his great friend, Dylan Thomas.
The collection of writing has been put together by his widow Gwen, with help from renowned Dylan Thomas expert Jeff Towns, and features his critical writing, a substantial part devoted to his great friend.
Most of the work has never been seen before, and has been selected from a private library of work, in a process which has taken a year to complete.
And Gwen, who will turn 90 in December, said it provides an insight not only into the genius of Dylan’s work, but also the relationship between the two writers.
She said: “Vernon first met Dylan when Dylan was just twenty.
“They went for a walk along the cliffs in Pennard, and when Vernon came back he said ‘I have just met a genius’.
“Both of them were devoted to poetry.
“Dylan would write to Vernon, and ask him advice about his poetry, ask him if he thought a certain line or word was right.
“Vernon even finished two of Dylan’s uncompleted poems which he had been working on when he died.
“The muse bombarded both Vernon and Dylan.
“Vernon was better at poetry, but I didn’t realise how much prose he had written, because he always ran down prose - he was fixated on poetry.”
The book also features Vernon’s writing other poets, including Hardy, Sassoon, and Auden.
But the most part is about the work of his great friend Dylan.
Gwen said: “Vernon said he immediately had an affinity with Dylan.
“Both were Welsh, and that was at their heart. In those days being Welsh was a sub-class, you had elocution lessons to get rid of your accent.
“Even though they didn’t speak Welsh, they would say ‘sut mae’ and ‘chwarae teg’, and both loved Swansea.
“If Dylan has stayed in Swansea, instead of moving to Laugharne, I don’t think he would have been so keen to go to America, as all his friends were here.”
She added: “I don’t know what old ladies will think of the book, they might be a bit bewildered.”
A reception to mark the launch of: Vernon Watkins, on Dylan Thomas and other poets and poetry, published by Parthian, takes place at Norton House in Mumbles, on Saturday. (oct 26)