Wild Cherry: The Selected poems of Nigel Jenkins

Ed. Patrick McGuinness

Nigel Jenkins’s body of work is remarkable not just for the range of its forms and occasions, but for the variety of its literary, cultural and political commitments. He campaigned for Welsh devolution and international solidarity with the same sense of purpose as he campaigned against nuclear power, militarism and racism. A politically- and culturally committed poet he was unafraid to be satirical, or epic, or polemical, or to be simply and frankly angry.

This book contains love poems and poems of desire, lyric poems and public poems for public spaces, occasional poems that transcend their occasions, merciless satires, and poems that borrow epic voices, whether of bravado or lament, and retool them for today’s challenges. There are poems written in the spirit of high-intellectual play and urgent poems about environmental degradation, militarism, nuclear folly, imperialism and capitalism. There is beauty and precision, outrage and indignation, savage wit and deep empathy. The book also contains a number of Jenkins’s translations from the Welsh – a reflection of his commitment to the bilingualism and biculturalism of his country, and to the idea of a community of poets.

A sense of history underpins Nigel Jenkins’s writing, but it is the present that propels it. In that sense, his poetry and prose are part of a single, albeit various, oeuvre. They are the work of a writer who believed that poetry has a duty to engage with the world as it is, while holding out the imaginative possibilities of what it can be.


‘Nigel Jenkins has a staggering presence in the literature of Wales. His poetry is both political and beautiful, deeply human, wonderfully cosmological of often scathingly humorous. Swansea’s most amiable bard and, undoubtedly, its most popular poet since Dylan Thomas… This selected poems, edited so very well by Patrick McGuiness, is an absolute triumph!’ – Nation.Cymru

‘clear, pure, lucid, light, and accessible … Honest, lively, so finely written, and entirely enjoyable and uplifting for any reader, Jenkins’ special message for poets is what I will leave you with here: please go and buy this book.’ – Mab Jones, Buzz Magazine

‘He became the unacknowledged national poet of his generation, an open hearted soul whose poems embodied much of what our nation is today—diverse, passionate, tender and unafraid to take a hard look at its political and cultural complexity.’ – Menna Elfyn