While many children follow in their parents’ professional footsteps, few do so under the glaring spotlight of their forebears’ fame. Yet the pressure of living up to the public’s expectations is not an overwhelming concern for Aeronwy Thomas—daughter of the late Welsh poet Dylan Thomas—who has been a poet in her own right for more than 30 years.
“The next generation has to have their say,” Ms. Thomas said in a recent phone interview. “And I think, quite honestly, that my poetry doesn’t sound Dylanesque, except when I mean it to.”
Ms. Thomas and her fellow countryman, Peter Thabit Jones, will be sharing their work during a reading for the North Sea Poetry Scene on Saturday at the Southampton Inn, just one stop on a reading tour that will take them to venues from Massachusetts to California.
The trans-continental tour was organized by Stanley Barkan of Melville, poet and publisher of Cross-Cultural Communications, who first met Mr. Thabit Jones and Ms. Thomas when he was invited to do a reading at the Dylan Thomas Center in Swansea, Wales.
When questioned about her reasons for joining this tour, Ms. Thomas admitted she is usually quite wary of the hidden motives behind such invitations.
“I have had many people approach me for the wrong reasons, which restricts my own poetic voice,” said Ms. Thomas, alluding to literary hangers-on. But she believes that both Mr. Barkan and Mr. Thabit Jones share a sincere appreciation not only for her father’s work, but hers as well. It is those sentiments that have led to a string of overlapping projects, including this tour, the publication of poems in Mr. Thabit Jones’s review, and the printing of Ms. Thomas’s and Mr. Thabit Jones’s books by Mr. Barkan’s press.
In addition to reading from their own work, Ms. Thomas and Mr. Thabit Jones will also read selections from the late Mr. Thomas’s oeuvre during their tour. At this week’s Southampton event, special guest Trefor Ellis, a noted tenor and Ms. Thomas’s husband, will also perform for the audience.
In a phone interview last week, poet and North Sea Poetry Scene founder Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan enthusiastically discussed the writers’ arrival. When Ms. Nuzzo-Morgan, who was already well-versed in the work of the two poets, found out they were touring, she contacted Mr. Barkan and asked if they would come and read for her organization. By booking the event, Ms. Nuzzo-Morgan, who has been published in Mr. Thabit Jones’s “The Seventh Quarry: Swansea Poetry Quarterly,” is bringing an important part of the international poetry world to Southampton while also helping to raise the profile of her non-profit organization.
For his part, Mr. Barkan is hopeful that this, the “first tribute tour” of its kind to Mr. Thomas, will create a “rejuvenation in the great influence of his poetry.” Indeed, the reading tour precedes the tentative autumn release of “The Edge of Love”— a biopic about Dylan Thomas starring Sienna Miller, Keira Knightly, Cillian Murphy and Matthew Rhys—which is likely to cause a resurgence of interest in all things Thomas. But for students of modern poetry, the work of Dylan Thomas, including “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night,” arguably one of his most famous poems, has become a significant and influential benchmark for contemporary poets.
But while the tour aims to honor the life and work of Mr. Thomas, it will also shed light on the lesser-known, at least stateside, work of Mr. Thabit Jones and Ms. Thomas.
Not as well-known as her father, Aeronwy (pronounced I-run-wee) Thomas’s poetry is inextricably linked to the history of her parents’ lives and her father’s work, but not necessarily steeped in its influences. After her father’s death in 1953, when she was just 10, Ms. Thomas left her childhood home in Laugharne—which is believed to have inspired “Under Milk Wood,” one of Mr. Thomas’s most famous works—to attend boarding school. Her mother moved to Italy, where the young Aeronwy would visit during holidays. Consequently, Ms. Thomas says she came to her father’s work late, because, at the time, Italy was not a great