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Welsh poet, journalist to visit Jim Thorpe

  • Grahame Davies
    Grahame Davies
Published October 14. 2009 05:00PM

Grahame Davies, the unofficial "Poet Laureate" of Wales and the director of online media for the BBC in Cardiff, will visit Jim Thorpe on Sunday, Oct. 25 as part of his Fall 2009 tour of Welsh communities in northeastern Pennsylvania and Vermont.

A winner of the Wales Arts Council's Book of the Year Award, Davies has written several poetry collections in both Welsh and English, as well as novels, essays, and critical commentaries.

He has collaborated with writers across Europe in translating works from other "national languages" that, like Welsh, are enjoying a revival in the new millennium, such as Asturian, Galician, Latvian and Guglionesi.

While here, Davies will visit sites connected to the region's coal-mining heritage and will collaborate with local Welsh-American artist David Watkins Price on projects that will seek to forge "postmodern" links between Wales and Carbon County's mining heritage. The local anthracite industry attracted thousands of Welsh miners to the region a century ago.

Price has become involved in work related to his Welsh heritage. Using a narrative and a series of architectural fragments in landscape, he has explored the forms man leaves behind. This effort culminated in a series of watercolors called "Standing Stones" for which he received the F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship.

The series included the town of Jim Thorpe, captured in eloquent watercolors that elevated and crystallized a vision of artists healing a decaying industrial America. He does not merely document; he draws out the essence dwelling in fragments left behind by highly-spirited people. To his keen artistic eye these subjects are more than old farmhouses or barns: they are the architectonic forms now clothed as symbols of the place, more alive in their decay than in gentrified restorations.

On Sunday Davies will be welcomed at the 9:30 a.m. service at the Episcopal Church of Saint Mark-Saint John on Race Street. He will be available at coffee hour after the service, and later at the community dinner between 4-6 p.m. that afternoon.

At 1:30 p.m. Davies will read from his poems and novels at Three Mountains Gallery, 29 Race Street. The reading, hosted by Sellers Books, is open to the public.

During his visit to the local area, Davies will visit the old Welsh Congregational Church in Lansford. After learning that the building was recently damaged in a fire, he assigned BBC reporters to write articles about the incident in both Welsh and English, and chose a watercolor by Price to illustrate the story on the BBC Wales Web site.

Davies is one of the most significant voices in "postmodern Wales" a nation that is reinventing itself in the new global order, forging links with diverse cultures across Europe and the Americas. He recently returned from Patagonia in South America, where he helped set up computer networks enabling remote Welsh settlements to be in touch with the home country. In the spring of this year, he lectured at Harvard University about relations between Wales and Islam, the subject of a new book he is writing. He had earlier written a book about relations between Wales and the Jewish people. Davies is also considered an expert on Celtic shamanism.

Before arriving in Jim Thorpe, Davies will lecture to students at King's College, Wilkes-Barre, at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 23, where he will read from his poetry at the Scranton Cultural Center, in an event sponsored by Mulberry Poets and Writers.

Karen Blomain, who will introduce Davies in Scranton, read several times at the Laurel Festival of the Arts in Jim Thorpe. She is editor of the poetry collection, Coalseam: Poems from the Anthracite Region, which includes selections by local poet, Edward Moran. The event is free to the public.

For more information on any of these events contact Moran at (917) 428-8170.

Davies was born in 1964 and brought up in the former coal mining village of Coedpoeth near Wrexham in north east Wales.

After gaining a degree in English Literature at CCAT (now Anglia Ruskin University) Cambridge, he qualified as a journalist with the Thomson Organisation at Newcastle-upon-Tyne and since 1986 has worked in the media in South Wales, winning a number of Welsh and UK industry awards.

In 1997, he was awarded a doctorate by the University of Wales for his study, written in Welsh, of the work of R.S. Thomas, Saunders Lewis, T.S. Eliot and Simone Weil, whom he identified as part of an antimodern trend in Western culture in the 20th Century. He published his first volume of poetry that year.

Davies work has been translated into several languages, and has appeared in numerous diverse publications. He regularly reads and lectures in the UK and worldwide, frequently appears on television and radio, has completed numerous high-profile poetry commissions, and collaborates extensively with musical and visual artists.

For more information about Davies, visit his Web site at

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