R S Thomas nominated for Nobel prize

R S THOMAS, the cantankerous clergyman who is Wales's most important living poet, is being nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature by powerful figures in the British literary establishment.

The 82-year-old cleric, who has spent his life working in remoteparishes, remains almost unknown to the public because of his obsessive privacy and dislike of people. His candidacy is being supported by Lord Gowrie, chairman of the Arts Council of England, Tony Bianchi, literature director of the Arts Council of Wales, and Kevin Thomas, director of the prestigious Welsh Academy.

Lord Gowrie said: "He has a forbidding exterior, but it is extraordinary how simple and communicable his poems are. At first sight they seem almost naive. Then you look again and you see the skill and timing and rhythms of the writing. I'm thrilled to be associated with the campaign to get him nominated."

Nominations for the pounds 630,000 prize, are restricted to writers' groups, professors of English, bodies such as the Arts Council, or past Nobel winners. Thomas's will be made by the Welsh Academy with the support of last year's winner, Kenzaburo Oe, who was bowled over by Thomas's writing.

Thomas is thought to stand a good chance of winning. If he does win, he will be the least well-known author writing in English to have done so.

Thomas is an ardent Welsh nationalist who learnt to speak Welsh - English is his first language - although he has never managed to write in it. His poetry is based on his religious faith, but he does not shrink from portraying his parishioners as sullen, miserly and mean-spirited, and faith in God as often absent.

He refused initially to agree to be nominated before yielding grudgingly on condition that if he won he could make his acceptance speech in his beloved Welsh.

"He is very lukewarm about it," admits Mr Thomas of the Welsh Academy. "I was sitting three rows behind him when somebody first told him what we were doing and he was shaking his head violently. When it was next mentioned, he agreed as long as he could make his acceptance speech in Welsh. It was impossible to say whether he was joking or not because he's so sphinx-like."

Last week the poet was a little more forthcoming. "I don't know anything about the mechanics of the business, but one can only be grateful if anybody thinks you're worth putting up," he said. "It's sort of local boy made good and I imagine that all over the world there are minorities putting up their champions."

In a rare interview with the Independent on Sunday last year, he described his poetry as merely "all right" and said it was "quite immaterial" to him whether he was remembered after his death. "My ambition has been to make poetry out of experience - mine has been particularly narrow."

This month, his latest collection of poems, No Truce with the Furies, is published by Bloodaxe Books. Philip Gwyn Jones, who recently commissioned Justin Wintle to write a biography of Thomas for HarperCollins, said: "He's an unpredictable man."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
News
Cumberbatch spectacularly photobombs U2 at the Oscars
news
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

News
Will menus with calorie counts really deter junk-food addicts from eating junk?
i100
Sport
Today's Liverpool Echo back page
football
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
i100
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

2nd Line server support - Microsoft certified

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large organisa...

Mandarin Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you qualified Mandarin Teache...

Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teacher required with Early Years...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?