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  • Idris Speaks

    Idris Davies was a miner, teacher and poet who T.S. Eliot thought captured the atmosphere of the 1926 General Strike better than anyone else. His work received a welcome second look when Pete Seeger used a part of one of his poems as a lyric for the 1965 folk song "Bells of Rhymney". The Pop group The Birds turned it into a major hit. 

    The poem is a monologue I wrote to accompany my version of the song that includes some of his actual words.







    For more information on Idris Davies see his Wikipedia page

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    John Good, known to many as Sioni Dda, was born and tumbled up in South Wales, in the shadow of blast furnace number 4, Port Talbot. He went to university in Yorkshire, in the late 1960’s, and spent as much time in poetry readings and happenings as in the lecture halls. It was a time of cultural, social and artistic revolution, with the majority of students looking to R.D. Lang, Ginsberg and John Cage for direction. 

    John moved back to Glamorgan to study with Welsh composer Alun Hoddinott and somehow acquired a Master's degree in Music Composition, while spending more time at the Chapter Arts Center, drinking Brains' beer and losing at darts. There was a short sojourn in London, some inner-city school teaching, then a couple of years in Brighton, playing music and keeping copious diaries of his post-academic wanderings. One slow Wednesday, San Francisco looked interesting, and after couple of months of traveling from sea to shining sea, he was offered a job playing in a contemporary jazz-rock band and accidentally emigrated.

    The sun was setting on the Summer of Love in the Bay area and L.A. and a song writing career looked enticing. All this time, notes and diaries were morphing into lyrics, short stories and poems, but this was a time for collection of experiences and naive essays into the hard world of professional writing, all the while trying to shim up the greasy pole of fame and fortune in the world of Punk and New Wave music. He learned a great deal about song writing, life, folly and rejection, and needed a break, geographically and mentally. Fame and fortune supplies great material for latter ruminations, but is exhausting. John, as he says, moved to Phoenix, bought a semi-truck and took off--All Aboard!--on the Black Top sea! 

    In Arizona, a stint on the board of the Phoenix Poetry Society and evermore frequent magazine publications of his poetry and short stories began to refocus his artistic desires. Remembering quite long poetry, songs and short story re-writes, in between truck stops, is tricky business. Casting off his truck driving anchor, he remembered his degrees and took a part time job teaching in a community college and formed a Welsh-American, modern, folk band, playing folk harp, Welsh bagpipes, pibgorn, flutes, whistles and voice. He still tours the Celtic Festivals from time to time. Simultaneously, he teaches online Welsh Language classes, writes articles, book reviews, short stories and poems for AmeriCymru, and is a columnist and regular contributor to Ninnau, the Welsh American newspaper. 
    Now, in his early 70s, on a Saturday night, he may still do a jig or two, if influenced to do so. Living in the foothills, outside of Prescott, Arizona, he is collecting and editing his stories and poems, with a view to publishing. An interesting life has filled many a page or two; his website contains a selection of his writings.