Carreg Las & other work

by John Jones

Publisher: the collective press
Available in: paperback
ISBN: 1-899449-80-9

Foreword to carreg las & other work

This exquisite book demands activity from its reader. We are asked to respond in many ways: to puzzle out the moon font, to imagine touch as our only conduit to the written word, to negotiate the difficult spaces between the artwork, the poems and the reader. We have to trust these spaces, understanding that what is not said is as important as what is said. Yet the poems are full of sounds, full too, of textures as well as finely-drawn images. Our senses become heightened as we read. Everything here is interconnected, literally and metaphorically. Meaning is often revealed through the discovery of surprising juxtapositions, so we can

“hear the drone of a


and think it


But connection is not easy. The vodafone may be turned off, the boys have only one line they can say, the girls are too busy dancing with each other to listen, the land is difficult and disappointing, full of molehills.

John Jones invites us to try again. To understand that “everything bleeds” – perhaps a pointed riposte to Alice Cooper’s allegedly feminist song “Only Women Bleed” – and, by the end of the book, we are up to our ankles in male blood. Not a symbolic castration, so feared by some men in this post-feminist age, but a real one; of a horse. For such a job we are better, John Jones tells us, not to be “wearing shoes”, better to be in touch with the reality of lifeblood. To live, to connect, to be part of the world we must be open and, indeed, vulnerable, to the truth about blood which symbolises both life and death, to the beauty of “sharp hilltops”, to the voices of our ancestors and ourselves when we cross over that edge into a place where anything might happen.

This book, touched with mortality, celebrates the business of being alive, reminds us “we’re a long time dead”. John Jones is asking us to live with our shoes off. Not to walk away from the lapis horse but to acknowledge the “exchange between hearts”, the importance of the cyclical nature of things, the fact that “there is strength here; all we have to do is find it”. – and, sometimes to take a gun with us, just in case.

Alicia Stubbersfield

Carreg Las by John Jones - published by the Collective Press

UK £10.00

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The first review I ever did of John Jones’ work, then in a three-handed anthology from the Abergaveny Collective, has ended up on the back cover of this collection. To find oneself associated with such a serious work is gratifying indeed.

In her foreword Alicia Stubbersfield says that ‘This exquisite book demands activity from its reader’; and, to gain most from this book, it is best to enter with few preconceptions, save, possibly, holding an image of the Welsh uplands in thought’s window. Then let John Jones’ words and images – the graphics are by him too – speak for themselves. And be prepared to pause often, to wander off into one’s own mental realms.

‘I became aware of a poetry that does not reside exclusively within ‘the poem’. In short, on a life that stems from and is altered by some poetic thought.’

Here he crosscuts print with grey Braille dots, makes the best use of white space of any practicing poet I know, prints lens-distorted Celtic designs, starts a story and, deconstructing it, makes one instantly re-examine what went before, pay greater attention to what comes next. While, throughout, he doesn’t let go of the idea that he is writing in a Wales in the world and at the end and the beginning of history.

He quotes a saint, answers in kind – ‘All that lives belongs to the land, it identifies us for who we are. There is no beginning, no end to this, just a portion of time to share, to exist, to be known. I am neither Christian or Jew; Muslim , Hindu, wise man or fool. I am all of these and none at all. I have curved time’s metal to the hoop and sent it spinning in my soul.’- and he then embellishes, expands, explores, digresses; even if the digression or embellishment is but white space, a few dots. This book entire is a work of art; and, like all earnest works of art, it does demand activity from the reader. This book took this reader in and changed him. And for that I thank you John Jones.

Sam Smith, Editor

The Journal #5

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