EVAN GWYN WILLIAMS: FLOTILLA'S CONSERVATIVE SONG OF WAGNER
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EVAN GWYNN WILLIAMS: THE MISOGYNIST AND THE OZZIE KNUT
A subsequent collection is WYNN (Tuba ISBN 978 0 907155 60 7)
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This page last updated: 13th October 2008.
|EVAN GWYN WILLIAMS: FLOTILLA'S CONSERVATIVE SONG OF WAGNER|
South Walian Evan Gwyn Williams is a far cry from Dylan Thomas's dream of a hearty, Britain-chested, cliff-striding companion, for Williams comes from the four bloody muddy winds school of poetry complete with liver, headache and general seediness, churning a bulk of words and scribbling madly in his reporter's notebook.
Williams's opening rant is the mock-hero-worship of Richard Wagner. It's a read-aloud poem from a tortured newspaper columnist; perhaps to be performed live in a German Biergarten after the Helles has taken effect? Of course, it quickly gets around to Adolf Hitler, a regular with a standing ticket whenever German opera was on the menu, even when starving in a flea-ridden garret. It commences:
Wagner, I love you so much I am orgasmic in memory. Wagner, I adore you so much. O Erection of Erections! Wagner, I adore your Germanic soul in its utter purityThe second tirade NUTTINGBERG concerns an unnamed English midland town where standards have declined to such an extent that:
Nobody gives a fuck about Any Body Elseand that's not surprising for the poet goes on to describe poetic malpractice at local council level
Nuttingberg Local Government wanted a picture of their town In words even though the town had the biggest crime rate in England. All the poets chosen were involved in the poetry bureaucracy, Running workshops and such,The third and final piece describes WYNN A PROLETARIAN PUSHED FROM PILLAR TO POST. For me this is the weakest of the longer works. After sampling the first two I was expecting the collection to go out with a bang rather than a fizzle. Evan Gwyn Williams didn't really mount the soapbox on this one. And that's a pity, for it's his great strength.
Nevertheless 2 out of 3 ain't bad and I have no qualms in pointing the potential reader in the direction of FLOTILLA'S CONSERVATIVE SONG OF WAGNER, a slim booklet, but like a Vernon Watkins' pound note on its way to Dylan Thomas you'll hear it singing in the envelope.
|reviewer: Gwilym Williams.|
|EVAN GWYNN WILLIAMS: THE MISOGYNIST AND THE OZZIE KNUT|
Evan Gwyn Williams literary triumphs are too numerous to list. He was a member of the group Poetry Workshop, his stories and poems have been broadcast by the BBC and published in literary journals and he has worked for Tambimuttu on Poetry London/New York out of Cornwall Gardens, and the Queen's Elm pub.
Details of the way in which the long poem, THE MYSOGINIST AND THE OZZIE KNUT IN A DAMP FLAT IN A WELSH SEASIDE TOWN (1968-1975), to give it its full title, is written is explained in the INTRODUCTION by Evan Gwyn Williams. He tells us it is a satire on 1960s feminism. In his words:
The stanzas are made of a rhyming quatrain a rhyming couplet and a further rhyming quatrain. The meter hovers around the iambic with variations so as to avoid monotony. It contains images from the sea and from nature when the natural order is under threat.The text may be described as bathetic, humorous, tragic, wayward, eccentric and fanciful, but that could describe almost all mythology.
The work is divided into ten sections:
This is a work of great depth, crossing boundaries, crossing stereotypes, as we come across a range of characters: the Misogynist, his landlady, lorry drivers, Ozzie Knut, Mordecai Thomas, solicitors and more. The tale is translated from dark times and strange rituals that shape the verse with stories of a dead brother, romance, birth, death, a hideous stepmother, the Little Innocent Boy, and the poet. These characters are interspersed with details about the human condition, as in Section One (ii):
Weeping hatred lays on floor is some epileptic fit Of unknown origin, demanding sexual Intercourse, orgasm, while writing De-sexed Eunuch From cover to cover with radical pals.The verse is infused with inspired pen portraits of the protagonists. Here in Section Two (iii) is the description of the way in which Ozzie Knut's parents met:
He was her darling man, heroically struggling tender Beyond words. Handsome and tall with politeness And calculated charm. Her emerging urban lover to render Her helpless. Her protector from horrific stress Of suicide and death Of brother and tragic mother.The urban squalor of suburban slums, burned cars, comprehensive school, cemeteries and stabbings is eloquently captured in Section Three (ii):
And where was misery born but in suburban slum In twilight zone of burned cars viewed from a bus And squalor, too, in sink school, the hum Of motors at twilight's monumental tic toc fuss. And an African brought home To the disapproval zone . . .And, turning the page to Section Four (i) we see that Ozzie Knut and Misogynist have decided to create a baby Hazel Knut:
SNIFFLE! SNIFFLE! SNIFFLE! Knut wanted a baby When in love with Misogynist, lay in bed Longing for pod filled with seed beside the fecund sea. The night was blue, the hills green and the sky red. Must run to medical doctor With Misogynist's spunk in her paw.It is with trepidation that we set out to discover what happens next. In Section Five, the poems are centred round the birth of misogyny, with the opening verse set in the barracks:
(I am only eighteen never had a girl friend, Longing for home.)Little Misogynist is sent to Germany, where he says,
I wring my hands to the cold war tune, cooking chips in the airman's mess. Hung over, sick as a dog, while mud-grey Soviet Ships patrol the Baltic sea, shoot from the hip.Section Six is mainly composed of conversation between Ozzie Knut and the Misogynist and is concerned with poems of how he became a misogynist. In verse vii, Ozzie tries to explain her needs to him, but gets shouted down:
"Men lead the Unions, a bunch of chauvinist pigs that oppress women, and keep them in the home. We want a wage for house work and a packet of cigs. We have erections, did nt you know, in the vagina zone. We want orgasms and foreplay. We got our needs. We want our say. Male doctors Out! Out! Out! Walk the streets without Any fear." "GET FUCKIN’ REAL," replied Misogynist, And live in the world. We need to shout Down finance capital and raise the banner of communism.Just when you, Sherlock-Homes-like, deduce there is a thematic chemistry taking place here, the carpet of assumption is pulled from under your feet. There follow poems about the Little Innocent Boy — an endearing verbal ululation painted on the reader's mental canvas of a small boy whose toys
are made from brier and hazel.One of my favourite sections is Section Eight, where the author has a sly dig at past poets (including Eliot):
And so he goes on restless nights to cheap hotels Through yellow fog that rubs the windowpane And wanks to the end of time, and time's end, A bloke half nuts, a bloke half sane, listening to a train.Section Nine finds Ozzie Knut seeking a divorce in the solicitor's
seedy Victorian Office blockfor
Misogynist has committed adultery with Croat In a block of flats while Knut in America.But Knut has another boyfriend,
a social psychopath, Well suited, living off Giros and false addresses.However,
Knut's adultery costs more Than its worth.The judiciary rules
female Feminist morality as vice. Male Behaviour rules ok.And so we move to the final section, THE LONG GOODBYE. Here the poet says goodbye to his creations: solicitor, daddy wimp, stepmother thief, sea captains, Shrew, Jewish Landlord, Calor Gas man, Ozzie Knut et al, with a passing reference to a Yeats poem
who can tell the singer from the song.At the conclusion of the poem are NOTES WRITTEN BY THE MISOGYNIST, a synopsis explaining and elaborating on the text. This is no ordinary volume of poetry but a channelling of one person's vision. Parts of the book seem to come from another time, another place — a time and place not lost but brought back through a gifted and inspired writer's vision, a writer who deserves our admiration.
|reviewer: Patricia Prime.|