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Bread without Butter (Bara heb fenyn)

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

Bread without IMAGE

Wendy French is an editor and poet and the former head of a small school in a psychiatric hospital.

Bread without Butter is her fifth full collection of poetry, in addition to two pamphlets.  She has edited three books of poems by children in hospital, as well as poems about the heart.

Her new poems are about family relationships, in particular concerning her mother and grandparents who lived in a Welsh-speaking, farming community very different from the Wales of the twenty-first century.    There are also poems about the Covid 19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown.

With warmth and unsentimentality Wendy French relives her family’s life across generations, particularly her roots in rural Wales. Often through staunch, simple details, she conveys a sense of the human spirit. It is embodied, for instance, in the farm worker who “taught us to respect even the tiniest daisy in a field of hundreds” (‘Old Tom’). A natural, musical and subtle poet, she can make us think of all the lives we carry within us.
                                                                                  Moniza Alvi

The past is never past and the dead are never dead. In Wendy French’s radiant new collection, her mother’s distant voice is in the pull of her hairbrush, and her father still turns on a walk, a revenant long after his time, to look for the others. The Welsh farmyard, fields, bacon frying, and softly-spoken stories, are at the heart of rich poems in which R. S. Thomas’s instinct for pared-back lives is married to the vividness of Dylan Thomas’s stories – poems in which “the taut band of belonging” beautifully celebrates Wales, the great world, and all of life.                                              Michael Hulse

Paperback      £9.99      ISBN  978-1-904851-813