British Titles

Phil Maillard - Sweet Dust and Growling Lambs — Three Books



Available only direct from Shearsman Books.

Phil Maillard - Sweet Dust and Growling Lambs — Three Books

Paperback, 148pp, 8.5x5.5ins

Download a PDF sampler from this book here.

"Allen Fisher in London, and John Freeman in Cardiff, published my first 2 books in the mid-1970's. Peter Hodgkiss did 3 more. Since 1980, apart from a couple of chapbooks and a paperback of short fiction, I've published in magazines and anthologies. Very little of the writing in this Shearsman selection, therefore, has appeared in book form before.


   As a blow-in to Wales, I feel part of a Triad of Migrant Bards — the other two being Chris Torrance and Graham Hartill — whose influences and agenda inevitably differ from much contemporary Welsh writing.

    Looking at this collection, Sweet Dust And Growling Lambs, I think I can perceive a few recurrent themes. The first relates to mythology, in a broad, story-telling kind of fashion. Of recent years, 'myths' have been regarded as universal, because archetypal, repositories of human experience. From there, it's a short step to the idea of 'fusion', of combining elements from different cultures in a single work. This is most familiar in music. In my poem  The 'Confession' Of Gerald, for example, the Celtic story of Elidorus and his meeting with the fairy folk is developed by way of a Buddhist teaching story.

  In contrast to the globalisation of myth is the idea of 'the local', of 'place', a concept dear to the writers of my generation. The second section in this Shearsman collection, Go Tell It On Broadway, is taken from a kaleidoscopic work in progress on the landscape, pre-history, history and people of my own current 'place', Cardiff. In terms of influences, the template here is still William Carlos Williams' Paterson.

    Finally, language itself is a subject, also not untypically for a writer of my age and persuasion. In poems such as Dysphasia, for instance, I've tried to look at the human centrality of language, for better and worse, by way of the effects and consequences of impairment — delineation by absence, like a print block in negative.

    If the above sounds a bit like toeing the party line, I hope there's enough 'other stuff' in the book that will simply speak for itself."

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