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‘freely and fiercely inventive short stories… supercharged with ideas.’ Jon Gower, reviewing Pugnacious Little Trolls by Rob Mimpriss for Nation Cymru. ‘Where is the Welsh short story going? Wherever Rob Mimpriss takes it.’ John O’Donoghue. Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Bathed in white fire in every sense... Borges would happily own them.’ Gee Williams on Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. ‘A fine Welsh writer working under the radar who deserves to be much better known.’ Nation Cymru greeting Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Beyond question Wales’s finest and most subtle short-story writer working today... A work of great beauty and subtle force, a fine, distinctive voice.’ Jim Perrin on Pugnacious Little Trolls. ‘Zestful playfulness... along with a grand energy and capacity for invention.’ Jon Gower reviewing Pugnacious Little Trolls for Nation Cymru. ‘Dark, complex, pensively eloquent’ (Sophie Baggott, New Welsh Review) — Reasoning, For His Warriors and Prayer at the End, three short-story collections now published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Heaving with loss, regret and familial bonds.’ Annexe Magazine on ‘Gemini,’ a short story in Prayer at the End, published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Lucid, skilful, and above all, of enormous timely relevance’ (Jim Perrin). Rob Mimpriss’s new translation of Morgan Llwyd’s allegorical masterpiece, A Book of Three Birds. ‘There is nothing ostentatious about his writing... And yet the best of these pieces express something important about psychology and human relationships, and the sparseness of the writing is capable of considerable power.’ Brian George, The Short Review. ‘These stories are a rare kind of joy. Even when they approach moments of discontent and danger they bring an optimism founded in human relationships. This is a wonderful collection.’ Prof. Graëme Harper, editor, New Writing. ‘An invaluable translation.’ Angharad Price on Hallowe’en in the Cwm, the short stories of Owen Wynne Jones, translated by Rob Mimpriss. ‘Humour and pity often arise from the characters’ inability to understand themselves and those close to them. In suggesting the truth and the self-deception Mimpriss not only engages our sympathy but makes us question our assumptions about ourselves.’ Caroline Clark, gwales.com ‘Quietly written, contemplative... whose powerhouse is the depth of its moral reflection.’ Siân Preece, Rhys Davies Competition on ‘Hamilton Park,’ published in Prayer at the End. ‘An immaculate collection.’ Nigel Jarrett, twice winner of the Rhys Davies Award, on Prayer at the End, a collection of short stories by Rob Mimpriss published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Through the stealthy movements of his prose, Rob Mimpriss enacts the quiet enigma of people’s lives and relationships. The result is an understated fiction of compelling intensity.’ Prof M Wynn Thomas. ‘The story is called ‘Valiant’ in the collection, For His Warriors. I recommend it. Highly. It feels to me already like a classic.’ Fiona Owen, editor, Scintilla. ‘A quiet writer with a loud voice... I’ll be listening for more.’ Michael Nobbs, gwales.com on Reasoning: Twenty Stories, published by Cockatrice Books. ‘In the most seemingly unremarkable of Rob Mimpriss’s pieces there is a skill, and a mystery and elusiveness to that skill, which other short-story writers might envy.’ Gee Williams. ‘Industry in the Country of the Blind,’ new fiction in Land of Change, radical prose from Wales edited by Gemma Howell and forthcoming from Culture Matters. ‘This exemplary collaboration’ (Philip Gross). Dangerous Asylums, an anthology of fiction by leading Welsh writers, inspired by Denbigh Mental Hospital, edited by Rob Mimpriss.
Cover of New Writing

Did R.S. Thomas believe in God?’ Review of Laboratories of the Spirit. Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea, 1st November 2013. In New Welsh Review 102 (Winter, 2013-2014) online.

Did R.S. Thomas believe in God? The question was put by M Wynn Thomas, a professor of literature at Swansea University, to Barry Morgan, the current Archbishop of Wales, and Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, at a public discussion of faith in R.S. Thomas’s work. The prompt was a video clip in which John Osmond asks R.S. Thomas whether his rôles as poet and priest conflict. No, he replies, because poetry is metaphor, and religion is also metaphor. He sees no conflict between administering the Christian sacraments, which are metaphor, and administering the metaphor of poetry.

R.S. Thomas’s comment is perhaps deliberately evasive, and ignores the other meaning of Osmond’s question, whether the time he spent as a poet kept him from fulfilling his duties to his parish. Rowan Williams seemed anxious to defend his record as a priest. Young people remembered him fondly, and his sermons were clear and accessible. He would spend whole nights at the bedsides of the dying, or drive parishioners to see their relatives in hospital at Bangor from his parish on the Llŷn Peninsula, a round trip of eighty miles. His remark, argued Barry Morgan, is less alarming than it sounds, for R.S. Thomas does not state that religion is merely metaphor. He is not a systematic theologian, and does not pretend to an unambiguous faith, yet his work shows a deep conviction of the centrality of Jesus, of the centrality of his death and resurrection, and of the human-centred hope expressed in God’s future kingship.

Barry Morgan provided ‘In a Country Church’ and ‘In Church’ as evidence of R.S. Thomas’s poetic faith (Selected Poems 1946-1968. Bloodaxe, 1986. pp. 43, 94); Rowan Williams provided the later poem, ‘Raptor’ (in No Truce with the Furies. Bloodaxe, 1995. p. 52). Their choices highlight their different angles on his work. For Barry Morgan the poetry is always finally reassuring: R.S. Thomas questions, but always returns to the central tenets of the Christian faith, like the Hebrew psalmists who question but always reaffirm the power and goodness of God. Answers are given to those who pray, even if those answers take the form of a silence and a cross, untenanted or rich with human flesh. For Rowan Williams the poetry is more open-ended and disturbing. God is unknowable, implicit in the cruelty of the natural order, which fascinates R.S. Thomas, a threat as much as a comfort to the believer, and a God who like Kierkegaard’s God transcends ethics, who might indeed demand that Abraham kill his own son. The language of the poetry is always ambiguous. God, screaming, fastens his talons in his worshippers as much as his adversaries, though whether in rescue or predation is unclear; one can nail one’s questions to the cross, perhaps in despair that they will be answered.

Then was R.S. Thomas, as John Barnie suggested, an atheist in all but name? Wynn Thomas sees the poetry as arising from discomfort, as ‘pain seeking its echo.’ For Barry Morgan, R.S. Thomas’s quest for God is urgent and inescapable and the figure of Jesus impossible to let go; for Rowan Williams, the transcendent God is the only thing worth writing about, necessary starting point of his poetry. Moreover, Rowan Williams offers anecdotal evidence to contradict John Barnie’s claim, since it seems he asked the elderly R.S. Thomas this very question. ‘It is not whether God exists,’ he replied, ‘but what kind,’ still as opaque and unreachable as the God he sought.

I am the author of four short story collections. Reasoning and For His Warriors, originally published by Gwasg y Bwthyn, Caernarfon, with Welsh Books Council support, now join Prayer at the End and Pugnacious Little Trolls in revised editions at Cockatrice Books. My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums, including work by Gee and David Williams, Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, Simon Thirsk and others, was published by the North Wales Mental Health Research Project, October 2016. I am a contributor with Nigel Jarrett, Rachel Trezise, Tristan Hughes and others to Brush with Fate (Albawtaka, 2014), an anthology of Welsh fiction in Arabic translation by Hala Salah Eldin, to Land of Change (Culture Matters), and to Creative Writing Studies (Multilingual Matters, 2007), essays on writing as an academic discipline edited by Graëme Harper and Jeri Kroll, and of the foreword to Rivers of Wales by Jim Perrin (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2022).

I am the translator of Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams (Cockatrice, 2015), Hallowe’en in the Cwm: The Stories of Glasynys (Cockatrice, 2017), A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017), and of fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros. I was Artistic Coordinator of the North Wales Mental Health Research Project convened by Prof. David Healy at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, and am the editor of Cockatrice Books. I hold a Ph.D. in Creative and Critical Writing from Portsmouth University, and in 2011 I was invited to membership of the Welsh Academy in acknowledgement of my contributions to Welsh writing.