Dylan Thomas in the USA.

Posted by Nick Hennegan on Saturday, February 20, 2016
We've just found out we're going to host two special Dylan Thomas walks on Dylan Day on 14th May, thanks to the good folk at Literature Wales.

This is a post from our friends at The Writers Almanac you might find interesting if you like DT or America or both!

It was on this day in 1950 that the Welsh poet Dylan Thomasembarked on his first reading tour of the United States. He had always wanted to travel to America because he’d grown up in Wales watching American cowboy movies and American cartoons. The man who arranged for the reading tour picked him up at the airport, and they drove toward Manhattan. When Thomas saw the skyline he said, “I knew America would be just like this.”

He was immediately put in the literary spotlight, but he claimed not to enjoy his new fame. In an interview with the New York Times Book Review, he said he missed being a young unknown poet. He said, “Then I was arrogant and lost. Now I am humble and found. I prefer that other.” When asked why he came to New York, Thomas said, “To continue my lifelong search for naked women in wet mackintoshes.”

The tour lasted until June, and Thomas spent that time traveling to various American universities, where he attended faculty parties and gave readings to packed houses of several thousand listeners at each performance. Thomas himself had never finished college, and he was terrified of academics. So he got terribly drunk at all the faculty parties, shouting obscenities and hitting on all the women. Everyone was shocked and horrified.

When the time would come for Thomas to give his reading, even though he had been nearly incapacitated a few hours beforehand, he would always come out on stage and stun the audience with his performance. He had a deep, sonorous voice, and audiences would hang on his every word. He didn’t just read his own poetry. He recited a huge number of poems by other poets, and finished the show with one or two poems of his own. After the shows, he was mobbed by fans.

The reading tour seemed to go on and on. He traveled all the way to California and back. In letters to his wife, he complained that the tour was wearing him out. He wrote, “I’m hardly living. I’m just a voice on wheels.” He also grew less impressed with America, which he described as “This vast, mad horror, that doesn’t know its size, or its strength, or its weakness, or its barbaric speed, stupidity, din, self-righteousness, this cancerous Babylon.”

blog comments powered by Disqus

About Us

Nick Hennegan Hello. I'm Nick Hennegan and I started the London Literary Pub Crawl. Most of the blogs on here will be by me. I've always written but my first theatrical success was an adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Henry V' (www.HenryVPlay.com) I founded Maverick Theatre in 1994. (www.Maverick-Theatre.com) This pub crawl is really more a promenade theatre performance than a tour and I'm running it with a bunch of enthusiastic local actors and writers. I love sharing my passion for the area and the artists. I also present a radio show on Resonance 104.4fm - London's Arts Station and a podcast on our site. If you haven't visited us in London yet, I hope you'll come soon. And feel free to leave comments or email me at nick @ LondonLiteraryPubCrawl.com - I reply to them all and I love to hear from you.


blog comments powered by Disqus