Robert Minhinnick: About ‘Wild Swimming…’
About ‘Wild Swimming…’
“Nothing comes from nowhere” is a mantra that make increasing sense to me.
My writing depends on memory, location, association. And writing, especially my poetry, sparks into life when I am able to combine two or more of these. Also, the right idea has to coincide with available energy, which is not always the case. That energy is crucial. But it’s only one part of the recipe.
Very important to me is ‘sound’. I believe all writing a form of music, but it would be impertinent to state my writing is influenced by ‘cynghanedd’ – that Welsh language system of alliteration and assonance – a form of ‘harmony’. True cynghanedd is built around strict rules and I find anything ‘strict’ applied to writing rather silly. I’m far too slapdash and impatient to wish to obey rules. And I’m the loser for that. But then I write in English and not Welsh. My Welsh is a form of sheep’s wool on barbed wire. The actual sheep has vanished over the mountain.
I enjoy walking, especially in places such as Merthyr Mawr dunes near Porthcawl where I live. The nomenclature of places like this is also important, providing a sense of both past and future. The names of plants and creatures, or coves, caves and inlets in such places is also part of this. They tell a story, whatever it is.
Thus maps are important to me, the older the better. Everything is a form of exploration. I’ve used local ordnance survey references in recent writings, especially in my new prose volume, ‘Delirium’, from Seren Books; in ‘Gorwelion- Shared Horizons’ (Parthian, 2021); and the forthcoming pamphlet from Black Spring, ‘Wild Swimming at Scarweather Sands’. All of the places referred to in this are within two miles of my home. But swimming? It’s like my Welsh language capability, and I understand it’s as easy to drown in language as it is the sea.