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Sunday, 1 July 2012

CHEVAL - ANTHOLOGY BOOK REVIEW



CHEVAL – THE TERRY HETHERINGTON AWARD
Edited by Alan Perry; Foreword by Aida Birch - Parthian £7.99

www.parthianbooks.com

Terry Hetherington, who died in 2007, was a poet, short story writer and Welsh Academy member.  In association with the Dylan Thomas Centre, a writer’s bursary was established in his name to recognise high standards of poetry and short prose from young Welsh writers aged between 16 and 30. 

Each year an anthology of the best work is published and the latest, “Cheval”, is an impressive display of exciting, exhilarating and entertaining creative work. The selection proves that inventiveness, intelligent thinking, vibrancy, emotion, courage and humour are ripe for experimentation by enthusiastic and immensely talented young writers.  The results here are quite extraordinary.

I will pick out a few examples of the great writing within “Cheval” but I would feel guilty if anyone felt offended if they did not get a mention in my review.  So, here are the names of all of the writers included in the anthology: Lowri Llewelyn Astley, Emily Blewitt, Agnes Davis, Grace Gay, Mari Hellewell, Amanda Huelin, Alice Autumn Hughes, Rebecca John, Wiktor Kostrzewski, Leslie McMurtry, Joao Morais, Emma Musty, M.A. Oliver-Semenov, Rebecca Parfitt, Whyt Pugh, Carys Shannon, Katherine Stansfield, Georgia Carys Wiliams, Jonathan Edwards, Rose Widlake, Anna Lewis, Glyn Edwards, Jemma L. King, Tyler Keevil.

Terry Hetherington’s own work is featured to top and tail the book. Alan Perry edited the selection.  It is a fine collection indeed.

Okay, so that’s the important name checks done.  All of them deserve a standing ovation.  But several pieces stood out for me.

I was mesmerised by Lowri Llewelyn Astley’s “Spider”, a blunt tale with dark humour and a tragic outcome for Siamese twins Malachy and Ciaran – “People used to say we were like two peas in a pod but….we were like two shites in a barrel” – involved in a murder.  It is well worth buying the book just for this.

“Still Life” by Emily Blewitt is a wonderful, sweet poem using fruit as a theme in a very inventive way.  It looks great too!

“There are no problems in Russia” is M.A. Oliver-Semenov’s clever way of telling us about problems by telling us that there are no problems, in case someone is spying on him.

As an Irishman myself, I enjoyed the memory of the horror of the “wet kiss” greeting, prompted by Rose Widlake’s “My Irish Grandparents”. 


Rebecca Parfitt's "The Waiting" is a heartbreaking poem about inevitable death. It stirred personal memories for me about the slowness, the sadness, the wastefulness of dementia.

Oh, there is so much here to applaud.  If you are interested in fresh, new poetry and prose by a group of exciting writers, invest a little money and some time and be amazed, nay delighted, that “Cheval” is now available.  Bravo!

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