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Sunday, February 8, 2015

No Dominion

Greenwich Village, 1958

Just asked Ruby about Dylan Thomas and why she doesn’t include him when she talks about the great poets here. Ended up in a fight because of course, mothers don’t know anything.

He’s not a Beat, I guess, but who gets to decide that, anyway? He lived here and spent time here, even though he’s not one of Kerouac’s circle. I think of him as "Beat" in a lot of ways.

But of course he isn't, and maybe that's a good thing? He grew up in what he called an “ugly, lovely” Welsh town called Swansea

Got married to a woman named Caitlin, beautiful, and I know she had to be strong. 
They had a lot of rows but who doesn't

It’s hard enough to be an artist, and then be a married one. And they didn't have a lot of money so they lived, well. Kind of like we do, hand to mouth.

He failed his Army medical exam and worked for a film company during the war. They had three children, two boys and a girl. I think the first work he had published here was Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog.

I shared some of his work with Ruby like  And death shall have no dominion and the play Under Milk Wood and she allowed he was a real poet. She wouldn’t say he was better than Corso or Kerouac or Ginsburg and I wouldn’t allow that they could come anywhere near him. So we argued and then she went out, to take a walk, she said.

She’s mad at me because I’m not who she wanted me to be. Or not giving her the family she wanted or the life. I want to tell her I’m trying, but no one’s perfect. No one can be. But she doesn’t care.

Even so, I’m right about Thomas, though she can’t admit it. She knows he’s my favorite:

“Though lovers be lost love shall not
And death shall have no dominion…”

He’s maybe not as “hip” as the Beat poets she likes, but his language stops you and carries you, and I’d rather have his voice in my head than anyone else’s.

And if Ruby wants to write, she should read him, I think, because that’s the only way you get good at writing. I mean I go to museums and galleries to look at other people’s work. That’s how you grow and learn.

Why am I telling you this, since you probably already know it? I guess because she doesn’t want to listen and you maybe do. If Sky pulled out Thomas’ poetry, she’d be all ears. Or her father.

Still, I’m not sorry I tried. One of these days she’ll go back and take a second look at Dylan Thomas and all those poems will be waiting for her.

I’ll be waiting, too. 

--Nell Tabeata