Found out yesterday, the very sad news that the people of Wales have lost one of their most eminent writers, the poet, Journalist, psychogeographer and associate English Professor at Swansea University, Nigel Jenkins, aged 64 after suffering from a short illness. Active on the Anglo-Welsh literary scene for over 30 years, he has long been a personal inspiration.
Emerging in proinence in the 1970's, his voice established the emerging politicised voice, released with warmth and candour. An activist who stood among us in the peace, environmental and movements for social justice here in Wales, identifying himself as an internationalist, who also happened to be a localist. He was also editor of Radical Wales magazine and was actively invloved in the Welsh Union of Writers. A learner and great supporter of the Welsh language. I first became aware of his presence at demonstrations against a nuclear bunker in Carmarthen in the 1980's.
A generous and gentle man, with a rich voice who I was privileged to meet several times. At a reading in Aberteifi, his strong voice drew me in, and over the years I would chance upon him at hay- on-wye, and bump into him a couple of times on the train to Abertawe. Was also privileged to encounter him under his guise as a fine blues musician, and I remember that he always seemed to have a warm glint about him.
Nigel Jenkins was born on a farm in Gower, after periods of travel abroad, including a spell working in a circus, Mr Jenkins returned home, to base live in the Mumbles, near Swansea, capturing his love for the land of Wales, and his locality in his various collections. He was also a great writer and devotee of the haiku poetical form.
He will be missed by his friends, family and student alike as a kind man and a wonderful poet.
2999,792.5 kilometres a second - Nigel Jenkins
Light leaves us as it leaves the stars:
I see you as you were
a fraction of a fraction of a second ago,
sunned at the window, this bitter day,
by a light that's eight minutes out from home
we kick heels waiting
And for a sudden upturn, the happy accident
while gazing perpetually out on the past:
a quasor as if it was fourteen billion years back;
a face across the room
whose light hit the road
a hundred millionth of a second ago.
think us back some years, you and I...
Where now, I wonder, is the light of that time?
Autumn 96, New Welsh Review
The Watch - Nigel Jenkins
To pass the time, time after
time in those last long days
he'd take his watches to pieces
shove it together again.
Time passed. And with time's
passing - a lightening
of the load, as one by one
the little screws wandered
the gems hid their light
in the folds of his chair,
and the glass smashed.
Time passed, and now the watch
is mine. From time to time
it turns up un a drawer.
and I hold it in my hands, cloud
its mirrors with my breath.
His toil remains: the tobacco,
hayseeds. sand of his pockets
gathered round the rim: the hands
of the watch ripped clean away.
And what time does it tell
with its blank face? You can
sometimes shake it into brief life,
and the time it tells is
always never, always never,
never never, always never,
always never, always never,
always always now.
from Acts of Union; Gomer, 1990.
Full Stop- Nigel Jenkins
Whatever in life
is muddled, side-stepped, misconstrued
there is no ignoring me,
full stop, new sentence.
And should that sentence prove
too painfully long
you have only to invoke
my careful abbreviatory skills,
full stop, new par.
Whichever way you wind-
via colons of plenty, dashes of joy -
I will oblige yo, ready or not,
with your vanishing point.
Last Word - Nigel Jenkins
She, like the planet, lovely and hurt
by squalorious man, shocked the fiesta.
"Why not?" she smiled, congested with grief,
"Why not make the whole disater,
let nature start again...?
It would be like having a good shit."
But, they reasoned, there might not be time
for a wiser model to fumble from the wreck
before the Sun, swollen
to a red giant, and devouring its children,
gobbled up the Earth.
"Well," she said, "perhaps we should all
self-obliterate, leave the planet in peace
to the birds, the gorilla, the wiser whale."
A noble4 abdication, butno, they said, it is
now too late: our madness, our systems-
we cannot simply walk away from them,
there'd be anarchy, melt-down, a thousand
Chernobyls, death world-wide to bird and beast:
we have made ourselves indispensable.
Autumn 96, New Welsh Review.