How important is your Welsh identity and background to your writing?

Well 'Dw i'n dod o Gymru yn wreiddiol' - which means 'I am originally from Wales' - so obviously Wales played an important part in the background of my writing I think, in that it was where I was brought up, it was where I first met an awful lot of elements of the world. It was certainly where I met an awful lot of the natural world because I was brought up in, well, outside a small village. I think in many ways that was more important than the fact it was Wales. That said, I think I was very lucky in that poetry is still perhaps a slightly more natural medium in Wales than it is in certain other countries. All of that said, I suppose I've never been too fond of the idea of writers being limited by their borders - you know one of the reasons that I write, one of the reasons I love writing, is that it can go further than any border, any boundary so I tend to describe myself as a writer from Wales, rather than being a Welsh writer. I guess where I was brought up was especially important in maybe some of my earlier poems - in that being brought up in a small Welsh market town I felt a lot of the stories of my friends and the people I knew, I didn't see them being represented in any of the contemporary poetry I was reading. So there was a real urge to try and craft some of those stories as poems. So again there's a poem called 'Unfinished Business' about a guy I was at school with - he was the type of character, the type of quite wild character, off the rails, from a small Welsh market town which I hadn't met anywhere else in poetry. So I think it was quite influential on my early subject matter. Oddly enough as I live for longer and longer outside of Wales at the moment I think the landscape is, in a funny way, becoming more and more important for me in that the memory of the Welsh landscape finds its way into my work much more than it did when I was actually living there. Even though I don't have an everyday spoken Welsh accent, when I read my poems in my head my poems do have a Welsh accent - so I think the rhythms of the people that I was brought up around and the people who I met when I was growing up right until I was eighteen, the rhythms and the metre of their speech and their accent is very much kind of embedded in the poetry.


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