Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Welsh Europeanisms 1: Siriol McAvoy on Lynette Roberts

Canolfan Richard Burton * Academi Rhodri Morgan * CREW
Seminar Series / Cyfres Seminarau 2017 - 18

Welsh Europeanisms

Ewropaethau Cymreig

Literature. Politics. History
Llenyddiaeth. Gwleidyddiaeth. Hanes

4pm, Monday, October 30, Keir Hardie Building. Room 115
4yh, Dydd Llun, Hydref 30, Adeilad Keir Hardie, Ystafell 115
Siriol McAvoy, Research Fellow, CREW

"I felt like running off to France and selling my British status”: Lynette Roberts, Welsh modernism, and the call of Europe

Argentinian-Welsh poet Lynette Roberts tends to be identified with a ‘localist’ strand of modernism, rooted in her ‘milltir sgwâr’ of Llanybri, Carmarthenshire. But she can also be seen as an ‘international-regionalist’, for her writing seeks continuously to open up the borders of Wales to other times and spaces. In this paper, I address Roberts’s engagement with the cultures of Europe, suggesting that this illuminates her own fluid, multifarious sense of belonging as a ‘colonial’ (and Welsh) woman writer.
Firstly I excavate Roberts's internationalism and solidarity with Europe in the context of the socio-political developments that marked the 1930s and 40s, including the rise of Fascism. Summarising the importance of her ‘continental migrations to Europe’ around this time, I turn to consider her engagement with the European avant-garde (Symbolist theatre, Surrealism, modernist design including Bauhaus and Le Corbusier). The third part of the paper will examine Roberts's interest in (what she sees as a) trans-European folk culture. Presenting her support for 'peasant' peoples and the rural dispossessed as indicative of her feminist and culturalist vision, I suggest that she fuses Welsh and European folk culture with avant-garde aesthetics in order to construct a new form of ‘naive modernism’ that champions a cultural rootedness without borders.