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'When You Smile You'll Be A Dog No More' - An Interview With Paul Steffan Jones

2012-11-17
By: Ceri Shaw
Posted in: Author Interviews



Welsh poet Paul Steffan Jones won this year's (2012) West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry Competition with his entry  When You Smile You'll Be A Dog No More. Read the winning entry below. AmeriCymru spoke to Paul about his winning entry and about his work in general.



AmeriCymru: Congratulations/Llongyfarchiadau on winning the 2012 West Coast Eisteddfod Poetry Competition and many thanks for agreeing to talk to AmeriCymru. Your poem 'When You Smile You'll Be A Dog No More' was the winning entry. Care to tell us more about the poem?

Paul: Diolch. I am delighted to have won this competition. The poem is a reaction to the death of my mother in July 2011, the Gleision mining disaster later that same year and the 1938 murder of my Treherbert ancestor Thomas Picton by Spanish war criminals. It deals with grief and how it affects the personality and one's core beliefs.

AmeriCymru: How would you describe your relationship with words, with the raw matter of your craft?

Paul: My relationship with words has become more flexible, more trusting over the last two years. I am favouring a partly abstract approach to writing because I feel that what's going on at present in the UK doesn't make much sense and it's my job to reflect that feeling of nonsense to some degree in my work. It's good I feel to deconstruct a narrative so much that the narrative disappears leaving the naked and mad beauty of words that seem not to belong together but somehow work against the odds. I allude to this in When You Smile You'll Be a Dog No More. It is even more challenging when reading this type of poem to an audience. I believe it's important to try to find new ways of conveying messages, creating tension and provoking reaction.

AmeriCymru: Your blog features a number of original works. Will they be anthologised? How satisfactory/useful are digital media for poets?

Paul: Some of my blog writings have appeared in collections and others may do so in the future. I have found that having a blog has provided me with feedback that I would not otherwise have had. It provides additional encouragement in a fairly lonely genre.

1367_blogs.jpgAmeriCymru: Your first anthology Lull Of The Bull was published by Starborn Books. Where can readers obtain a copy?

Paul: A small number of copies of Lull of The Bull are available at www.starbornbooks.co.uk and a few book shops in West and South Wales.

AmeriCymru: What's next for Paul Steffan Jones?

Paul: My second collection, The Trigger-Happiness, will be published by Starborn Books in the next few weeks. A third collection, Junk Notation, has already been written, a reaction to relationship breakdown, poems punctuated by short stories. I am working at the moment on a potential book called Ministry of Loss which again deals with grief and also the massive population change in rural Wales since the 1960s. I look forward to taking The Trigger-Happiness to a wider audience. I hope that one of its poems will feature in an exhibition in Kyoto, Japan next month.

I will continue to fight the UK Coalition Government's austerity measures from within the ranks of the Trade Union movement.

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the members and readers of AmeriCymru?

Paul: There are a lot of good but unknown poets in West Wales who deserve to be heard. I'm sure that a similar situation exists in the U.S.A. I would like there to be closer links between lesser-known Welsh and American poets.



When You Smile You'll Be A Dog No More

I wake up

I wake up dead

I had been dreaming of cardboard

home made signs on unclassified roads

which directed me to 20,000 saints

or 20,000 whores

its hard to decide

everything is everything else

nothing is nothing

let me sleep

my bed my kingdom

Im sick of having to make sense

if theres still such a thing

the holes and the cracks

that await filling or recognition

our father gives us brown envelopes

containing our mothers careful accretion

we have all done loot

I will glory in her memory

decorate those who have managed

to live to retirement age

who have lived before death

I am overdue a bombweed and overgrown motte

Grand Tour

with a redundant cinema gravedigger hunchback

to disinter Nazis to kill them all over again

the art of leaning on a farm gate to view

wood lice jigs

the tail end of a hurricane

mould and its cousins

fungicide and its offspring

cry when miners die in the sides of hills

in the tombs of the underworld

in the caress of water

cry when they say your name

when the pain overpowers

when the clues expire

cry as men cry

faces to the wall

the tears of candles

the clowns of town down

the anti-condensation flotilla at full tilt

freelance apologists freely lancing

cwtsh into the huddle

taste her tears so near

impressing me as much

as I had expected

but not in the manner anticipated

women with bruised faces

the views from floors

fight for your smile

you know the one

and I will fight for the right to fail

and the secrets we think we are keeping

removing my shirt though its cool

nakedness of diaphragm

for what I am

the long arms of brambles through fencing

Impressionist paintings in river reflections

the source of the Nile

the source of fibre

persisting with bent nibs

everybody lies

everybody smells

everybody disappoints

this towns got much to answer for

eat what you are

food replaces sex

those poached brains

shopping as sport

lions as lambs

distance will bring us together


Paul Steffan Jones

Interview by Ceri Shaw Ceri Shaw on Google+

Ceri Shaw
01/22/13 06:36:17PM @ceri-shaw:

Review of The Trigger Happiness ( Paul Steffan Jones ) by Liz Whittaker:- https://lizwhittaker.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/paul-steffan-jones-re...


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