Igh Sheriff of Merthyr
- Igh Sheriff of Merthyr
- ISBN: 9781845279394
- Mike Jenkins
- Publication: September 2023
- Format: Paperback, 215x138 mm, 120 pages
Igh Sheriff of Merthyr is a book of poems in local dialect, beginning with a number which deal with the period of lockdown and its effects, then a series which address monarchy through a local perspective by transposing events to the Merthyr area. Finally, there are many poems which deal with the town itself, its people and their struggles with oppressive poverty.
Mike Jenkins's first two books of poems and stories in Merthyr dialect were published by 'Planet'. Since then, Carreg Gwalch have published 'Barkin!' which was long-listed for Wales Book of the Year and also 'Sofa Surfin'. He has published two books of dialect poetry with the leftwing co-operative 'Culture Matters', for whom he is editing an anthology of dialect poetry from Cymru, entitled 'Yer Ower Voices!', with poems in English and Welsh.
Individual characters are fundamental to his poems, especially women such as one living with an abusive partner in 'Fleein a monster' and a single parent enduring appalling living conditions in 'Watch-a mould'. Yet there is always hope, exemplified by the eccentric couple in 'Two cones'. This collection is a snapshot of life in today's Merthyr, capturing authentic working class voices and speaking about genuine working class concerns. The poems read like monologues that could easily have been overheard on a Merthyr bus. It's rare to hear these perspectives, and rare too to see a quality attempt to pin down on the page the way real people speak to each other, complete with accent, attitude and sense of humour. The Welsh ear for music and poetry is clear here, whether it is Jenkins expertly injecting his poetic flare into his characters, or whether the real people of Merthyr have lent their own flare for the poetic to the undertaking – perhaps it is a little of both.