Tweet Follow @Planet_TWI

Imagining a Better World

From Planet 214

Mike Jenkins on the twentieth anniversary of Red Poets magazine and collective.

Twenty years ago, Red Poets was born in Wales, brain- child of myself and Marc Jones of Wrecsam, both members of Cymru Goch, leftwing activists and, in Marc’s case responsible for the monthly paper of Cymru Goch, Y Faner Goch. To this day, we are still co-editors of Red Poets.
Cymru Goch (CG) was a group of Welsh socialist republicans throughout the country who saw themselves as campaigners within their communities above all else. We were particularly active in the anti-poll tax campaign, organising non-payment direct action with meetings, films, leafleting, petitions, attending court cases to help those affected and appearing in court ourselves.
The longest lasting legacy of CG has been what is now called Red Poets, an annual magazine of leftist poetry predominantly from Cymru, and a loose collective of performers who read their work at many venues and benefits.
However, the very first Red Poets’ Society pamphlet was designed as a one-off. Marc came up with the title (obviously adapted from the film Dead Poets’ Society, popular at that time) and I supplied the editorial experience regarding poetry. Most of the poems were collected together from past copies of the newspapers Welsh Republic and Y Faner Goch. I solicited others from sympathetic poets such as Nigel Jenkins. Harri Webb also featured.

The launch did not auger well for our future. Responsibility for printing was given to a small firm who failed to deliver. It was a launch without a magazine! We only had copies of the cover. The event, at Pontypridd’s Clwb-y-Bont, was hectic and lively with one woman at the back letting out orgasmic cries of ‘O Bechod!’ I never did discover why… I doubt that she was overcome by the revolutionary rhymes.



Buy the issue here