Dubliners – James Joyce
I would choose this book just for ‘The Dead’, one of the greatest short (though long) stories in English literature and a masterly use of characters, plot and settings. That said, the whole collection is a cohesive work of beautifully crafted writing, with detailed and delineated observations of people as Joyce balances the tragedy and the joy in their lives.
Edward Thomas – Stan Smith
Thomas is an all-time favourite of mine and Smith places him in a Britain that is politically and socially fracturing in the lead-up to the First World War. The critic’s well-chosen use of fragments from the poems and the prose lend weight to his exploring and questioning the usual image of Thomas being just a nature poet/travel writer.
Savage Beauty/The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay – Nancy Milford.
It is a thoroughly researched and very revealing biography of the impressive but now mostly forgotten American poet. Millay was a woman ahead of her time, strong and sensitive, living her life more or less as she pleased, whilst being a popular poet with an original poetic voice and vision.
Deaths and Entrances – Dylan Thomas.
It is a perfect collection and a wonderful display of his astonishing and highly individual talents and his carefully controlled craftsmanship when it comes to expanding the notion of poetic form. His subject matters, including retreating to a childhood Eden to ‘the eternal note of sadness’ (Matthew Arnold) of death and grief, are steered by the remarkable sound texturing of his poet’s obsessive labour.
Federico Garcia Lorca/Four Major Plays. Translated into English by John Edmunds.
Lorca’s dramas have influenced my own journey into writing verse and verse/prose plays for the stage. Magically metaphorical at times, powerfully poetic, intense and dramatic, he is rightly renowned for his strong female characters in works that pulse and brood with the notion of duende.
Peter Thabit Jones has authored fourteen books. He has participated in festivals and conferences in America and Europe and is an annual writer-in-residence in Big Sur, California. A recipient of many awards, including the Eric Gregory Award for Poetry (The Society of Authors, London) and the Homer: European Medal of Poetry and Art, two of his dramas for the stage have premiered in America. His opera libretti for Luxembourg composer Albena Petrovic Vratchanska have premiered at the Philarmonie Luxembourg and the National Opera House Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. Love and Jealousy, a full opera, will premiere at the Theatre National Du Luxembourg in December.