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  Top » Catalog » Pages » Reviews
A Worm's Folly - Poems In Cornish by Mick Paynter

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Reviewed by Cyril Jones in Morning Star 12 July 2011


Mick Paynter is left-handed, has always had "a Cornish orientation," used to be a bolshie trade unionist, doesn't drive a car and still hitch-hikes occasionally.

These facts illuminate and inform a great deal of the content of this bilingual collection by a rebel poet of many causes.

His introduction displays the zealousness characteristic of many learners of lesser-used languages: "I love it... it carries in it the soul of Cornwall," he writes.

For Welsh speakers, as Mererid Hopwood notes in her preface, it is possible to imagine the "sounds of the sister language" when reading the Cornish version.

She's surely right to hope that the collection will inspire other writers to express their life experiences through the medium of their grandmother's - or ancestors' - tongue.

Second or third language speakers find it easier to express their innermost feelings through the medium of their newly-acquired language because their mother tongue has ingrained in them a more school-orientated, formal outlet for their experiences.

As Paynter says, "I only write letters in English."

Many of these poems have the characteristics of the single-stanza englynion - a kind of haiku - of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic tree.

The pithinnes and the strong consonant-based element that characterise these short poems in Cornish present a challenge to any translator.

An example is a depiction of one of Britain's most well-known landmarks, which resonates with a far deeper meaning in the context of the Cornish language - its fate in the past and its uncertain future. "War Benn agan gwlas,/Right at the Land's End/Norvys a dhelerg dhynni,/Behind us the complete world,/dhe'n mor mar dhifen./So forbidding is the sea."

These poems certainly deserve a wide readership, not least because of the apparent ease with which Paynter combines age-long and contemporary themes.

His "warm feeling" whenever he crosses the Tamar into Cornwall could become the experience of all readers who are willing to read and embark on these poems' westward journey.

Best Sellers
01.From Bow to Biennale
02.Hark! The Glad Sound of Cornish Carols
03.The Old Red Tongue
04.Cornwalls First Golden Age
06.Celebrating Pevsner
07.Grains of Gold
08.Star in a Night Sky
09.The Way Back
10.Surfing Tommies
Forthcoming Books
Featured Books
Regular Cornish language classes with Mick Paynter.

London. The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery permanent exhibition of women in medicine.

First Sunday of every month, Redruth. Shout with the Red River singers.

Second Wednesday of every month, Luxulyan. Prys Ton – Cornish Music Session.

Until 6 May 2018, Leicester. Lancelot Ribeiro: A Voyage of Discovery, an exhibition tracing the story of this important Indian artist.

5 March 2018, Bodmin. Gool Perran – St Piran’s Tide procession and street dance at Mount Folly.

5 March 2018, Newquay. Gool Perran – St Piran’s Tide procession through Newquay followed by a singing session.

6th, 13th, 20th, 27th March 2018, Cornwall. Singing rehearsals for the Man Engine events.

10 March 2018, Manchester. Discover the suffrage movement through papers, posters and performance at the People’s History Museum.

10 March 2018, Bude. Closing Dance at the Pagan Regional Conference with Merv and Alison Davey.

13 March 2018, Salisbury Cathedral. A talk by Elizabeth Crawford about Millicent Fawcett and her circle.

15 March 2018, London. Book Launch of The Red Vial by Wilkie Collins with dramatic readings from the play by Di Sherlock and Simon Vaughan.

24 March 2018, Southwark Cathedral. Elizabeth Crawford gives an illustrated talk: Pictures and Politics: the art of suffrage propaganda.

24 March 2018, Museum of London Elizabeth Crawford joins a panel discussion on the legacy of the suffrage movement through the eyes of contemporary writers.

31st March 2018, Pendeen. Man Engine Resurrection Tour afternooner event at the Geevor Tin Mine.

Friday 30 March to Monday 30 April 2018, Cornwall. Alan M. Kent’s new play, The Incredible Balti Celtic Carpet Ride tour, tours Cornwall.

1 April 2018, Pool. Man Engine Resurrection Tour afternooner event at Heartlands, Pool.

5 April 2018, London. Launch of Art and Suffrage with a Q&A with the author Elizabeth Crawford.

7 April 2018 2018, Newquay. Nos Dons Kernow / Cornish dance night with Tan Ha Dowr.

19 April 2018, St Just. Cornish music at Trevithick Day, Camborne.

28 April 2018, Camborne. Man Engine Resurrection Tour afternooner event at Heartlands, Pool.