Troeon/Turnings

9781781726068
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Troeon/Turnings is the fruit of a creative collaboration between English Language poet Philip Gross and Welsh language poet Cyril Jones.  The work is further enlivened with cover and text designs by fine artist Valerie Coffin Price. The poems feature watery themes and are primarily inspired by a myriad of rivers ‘…on their separate ways to articulation: north south east/ west, toward opposite coasts…’. Cyril Jones also contributes some English translations of his own Welsh poems and Philip Gross writes directly in response to Cyril’s contributions. The creative conversation between the two has produced a wider range of poems than expected, with several themes begging to be pursued: the flowing of water, the different rivers central to each writer’s life, the life-stories associated with them, and the translation process itself. Both poets have been drawn into exploring the ‘space between’ the two languages, in which words and meanings can be ‘turned’ in several senses. The poets share both a love of precise and allusive description and a predilection for the ever-flowing wildness of the natural world: ‘The melody and counter-melody/a strange combination of Cerdd Dafod, Cerdd Dant/two halves awakening common memories.’ There is a gorgeous dialogue-like section of concise ‘englynion’ aside translated versions in a central section devoted to birds. An image of the waters ‘flowing backwards’ brings us the storied history of the regions along the riverbanks, from ‘neolithic bones’ through medieval monks and printer-priests, onwards to the Industrial revolution, and then touches on the contemporary where occasionally bitterness still arises, although now the (Severn) ‘Bridge is Free’ there is always the pressure of the past and the jousting play of two languages:  ‘ambivalent flick of meanings,/ tilting like feelings – always forked’. Valerie Price is a known for her fine-art installations inspired by the nature. Her Letterpress designs take their themes and forms from the poetry text of Gross and Jones. She uses large lettering, overlapping outlines, text in columns, inventive formatting, shading and spacing. Printed in an accessible standard format for poetry collections, Troeon/Turnings is an artful play of variations using visuals and voices, both beautifully lyrical and profoundly thoughtful.