If Welsh poet Dylan Thomas were still alive, he would be one hundred years old this year. Instead, he died in 1952 at the age of 39. Despite his early death, his poetry had significant impact. Ironically, many of his most famous poems deal with the death that came too soon to him, from “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” to “And Death Had No Dominion.”
On Sunday, April 13 the St. Louis Poetry Center will be holding a reading of his works in honor of his centennial and in celebration of national poetry month. St. Louis poet Jon Dressel will be the event’s emcee, which is being held at his son’s restaurant, Dressel Public House. Dressel is of Welsh ancestry and the former director of the graduate program in creative writing at Trinity College of the University of Wales.
Made famous in part by four national reading tours in the United States, Dylan Thomas had an international reputation, said Dressel, adding that “Some critics regard him as perhaps the greatest lyric poet of the 20th century.”
“He added a voice to the world where suddenly everyone knew where Wales was,” said Teresa Doggett, a St. Louis-based actor and costume designer who grew up in Wales. “His poetry just speaks to the common man, I believe.”
Doggett will be one of the readers during the celebration of Thomas’s work. Also reading will be Anglo-Welsh poetry expert David Lloyd, actor Lorin Cuoco, St. Louis Poetry Center poet Glendal Wallace and two representatives of the Welsh society of St. Louis, St. David’s: Ed Koszylkowski and Darlene Davies-Sugarman.
During Cityscape, Doggett and Dressel each read one of Dylan Thoma’s poems. Doggett read “Rev. Eli Jenkins’ prayer,” which is meaningful to her because she first heard it as a song her father sang as part of a men’s choir in Wales. Dressel read, “Fern Hill,” which describes an apple field Dressel is well acquainted with from the time he lived in Wales. But first, a recording of Thomas reading his seminal “Do Not Go Gentle” was played.
St. Louis Poetry Center Presents "Dylan Thomas: Celebrating the Bard's Centennial"
Sunday, April 13, 2014
4:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Dressels' Public House, 419 N. Euclid
For more information, call 314-973-0616 or visit the St. Louis Poetry Center website.
Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer, hosted by Steve Potter and funded in part by the the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.