This past weekend, while other people were thinking about Bonfire Night, I popped round the corner to The Poetry Bookshop for the launch of Land-Music/Black Mountains by Ruth Bidgood.
This is a double-sided book that meets in the middle, and contains poems about the local area. The newer ones are under the title Land-Music, and the rest, Black Mountains, are chosen from a body of work that spans forty four years.
Land-Music/Black Mountains is a tête-bêche or dos-á-dos (back-to-back) book with two separate books bound together
The Poetry Bookshop was full for the readings, with Ruth Bidgood enthroned in one corner. Introductions were made by Jan Fortune from Cinnamon Press, who published the book, and then she read three poems, to a room in rapt silence, followed by more from two other readers.
Along the way, she mentioned the Eppynt, Blanche Parry the nursemaid of Elizabeth I, Thomas Traherne the mystic priest – and her friend talked about a day out when they had a picnic in what they thought was a churchyard, gradually realising that it was, in fact, a private garden – but they were invited into the converted little church. A lovely poem about the juxtaposition of old monuments with a modern kitchen was the result.
It was a very enjoyable evening, and I was very pleased to have such a pleasant introduction to a poet who was new to me.
Ruth Bidgood is a Welsh poet. She was born at Blaendulais near Neath. Her Welsh-speaking father was a priest in Port Talbot, where Ruth was brought up. She was educated at a grammar school in Port Talbot, and went on to read English at St Hugh’s College in the University of Oxford. During World War II, she served as a Wren as a coder in Egypt, at Alexandria.
After the war she worked in London helping to prepare a new edition of Chambers’s Encyclopaedia, but eventually she and her husband moved to Coulsdon in Surrey. She and her husband had two sons and one daughter.
She and her husband bought a bungalow at Abergwesyn, near Llanwrtyd Wells in Powys. In the 1970s she made her home there, and began publishing poetry and researches into local history. In April 2011 her collection, Time Being, was awarded the Roland Mathias Prize.