Menna Elfyn is the best-known, most travelled and most translated of all Welsh-language poets. The extraordinary international range of her subjects, breathtaking inventiveness and generosity of vision place her among Europe’s leading poets. This bilingual edition of her later poetry includes all her work from Cell Angel (1996) and Blind Man’s Kiss / Cusan Dyn Dall (2001), as well as the first English translations of Perffaith Nam (2005) and a selection of new poems. The Welsh originals in this book have facing English translations by Elin ap Hywel, Joseph Clancy, Gillian Clarke, Tony Conran, Nigel Jenkins and Robert Minhinnick.
'These poems engage as deeply as ever with Menna Elfyn's treasured themes of possession and dispossession, the terrible vulnerability of those things which are precious and her joyously affirmative, inclusive views on how they may be protected. Her characteristic concern for humanity everywhere and her loving but uncompromising view of the conundrums of women’s lives are framed here in a more reflective vein, but with her characteristic humour and sideways wit. She is a witty, gentle, compassionate gatekeeper between Wales and the wider world, her work as a poet constantly explaining, excusing and extolling each to the other' – Elin ap Hywel
'Menna Elfyn is the firebird of the Welsh language, bright, indomitably modern and as undestructible as the phoenix. She gives hope to all writers in lesser spoken languages that great things can rise from the ashes' – Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
'Elfyn is a poet of healing…both compassionate and celebratory. Like a soul doctor she questions and probes, like St Teresa she endures the darkness, but in the end she sings a song which affirms that flawed humanity is indeed perfectible’ – Katie Gramich, Planet
'Liberation and enclosure are powerful themes in Menna Elfyn's work. She is a political poet, writing with passion of the Welsh language and identity for which she campaigns. But she makes her claims with realism…a restless, intensely responsive imagination’ – Helen Dunmore, Observer
'Menna Elfyn is a major figure in contemporary Welsh poetry, writing exclusively in Welsh. A true internationalist, her work has been translated into over eighteen languages. Her most recent bilingual collections in Welsh and English are published by Bloodaxe. Elfyn writes about the intimate and every day, the natural world and about women’s experiences, always able to transform her awareness of the small, and the beautiful, to the affective and often, then, the political. Her voice is challenging and compassionate by turn, unafraid of joy, and full of the energies of community, offering through the power of language, truth, consolation, and possibility.' - Deryn Rees-Jones, Co-Judge of the Society of Authors' Cholmondeley Awards 2022
Menna Elfyn: 'Handkerchief Kiss'
Menna Elfyn reads her poem 'Handkerchief Kiss' / 'Cusan Hances' in English and Welsh from Perffaith Nam / Perfect Blemish: New & Selected Poems 1995-2007 (Bloodaxe Books, 2007). The English translation of this poem is by Joseph P. Clancy. This film is from the DVD-book In Person: 30 Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, edited by Neil Astley, which includes four poems from Perffaith Nam / Perfect Blemish read by Menna Elfyn in Welsh and English.
Bilingual Welsh–English edition