Cyfrolau | Published Work


Perffaith Nam

Cell Angel

Published by Bloodaxe Books
ISBN: 1 85224 384 8

Cell Angel, published by Bloodaxe Books, explores many areas of contemporary experience, and takes Elfyn's work further afield. The poems move from narrow prison cells to Mexican hotel rooms, from Vietnam and its bloodthirsty mosquitoes to a chilly Welsh beach, from South African mercenaries to snowmen and pomegranates.

The book's title is double-edged: her cell is not just prison but also a place for contemplation, while her angel is both Eastern and Christian. Drawing on Tibetan Tulku thought as well as Indian Boddhisattva, these poems embody Menna Elfyn's restless search for the spiritual within the earthly. Some of the poems, such as No. 257864 H.M.P., deal directly with her prison experiences whilst others cover widely varying forms of captivity: the young girl locked into the stereotypes imposed on her by her culture and upbringing, for example; or into the straitjacket of her gender's preoccupation with physical beauty. What may sometimes seem like wilful obscurity is precisely that which is most inventive about Elfyn's poetry: the compound nouns, the unexpected twists and turns.

The collection ends with a sequence dedicated to the memory of the late Welsh historian Gwyn Alf Williams.