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Owen Sheers: World Maps


At the Alan Garner Centre, Wolverhampton, February

The translation of pain into language gives remarkable energy to  piece of writing. Literature that draws from the suffering of another, or of oneself, is crucially honest, and while most writings are ‘not equipped for life in a world where people actually die’, some master the articulation. The brutal honesty of this kind of writing (I can think of Janos Pilinszky’s Fable, Homer’s Odyssey, Poe’sConqueror Worm) sustain the inevitable erosion that time’s passing impedes, and in their learned immortality, inherit a bleaker strength that somehow outlasts – and furthermore defines – what we (should) consider to be ‘long-standing literature’.

This idea – that things must make their mark – seems to have deeply embedded itself within the anatomy of Owen Sheers’ work.  It occurs again and again, whether in writings of contemporary war, the beauty of the Welsh landscape, or ‘the victory of human spirit’.  This is a good sign – both the writer and his work are developing in synchrony. And the integral subject of the writing (that infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing) seems to be revealing itself…

Continue reading – Wales Arts Review Issue 10

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