About Peter Finch

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Peter Finch is a full-time poet, critic, author and literary entrepreneur living in Cardiff, Wales. Until June 2011 he was Chief Executive of Literature Wales (formerly Academi), the Welsh National Literature Development Agency. As a writer he works in both traditional and experimental forms. He is best known for his declamatory poetry readings, his creative work based on his native city of Cardiff, his editing of Seren's Real series, and his knowledge of the UK poetry publishing scene.

He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Architects of Wales (RSAW), a Fellow of the English Association (FEA) and a Fellow of Yr Academi Gymreig / The Welsh Academy. He won the Ted Slade Award for Service to Poetry in 2011.

In the sixties and seventies he edited the ground-breaking literary magazine, second aeon, exhibited visual poetry internationally and toured with sound poet Bob Cobbing. In the eighties and nineties he concerned himself with performance poetry, was a founder member of Cardiff's Cabaret 246 and of the trio Horse's Mouth. This was work with props, owing as much to theatre as it did to literature. In the new Millennium he was worked on psychogeographies and alternative guides to his native city of Cardiff. The city has become his obsession.

These days he is much in demand as a reader as well as a lecturer at festivals and venues up and down the country. You can get into Finch's performances. There's little deliberate obscurity. His talks on Cardiff and how it is with urban living are always entertaining.

From the early seventies until the late nineties he was treasurer of ALP, the Association of Little Presses. From 1968 to the mid-1980s he involved himself in the organising of weekly poetry readings in Cardiff. These events encouraged new writers and celebrated the established. Between 1975 and 1998 he ran the Arts Council of Wales's specialist Oriel Bookshop in Cardiff. In 1998 he was appointed Chief Executive of Yr Academi Gymreig/ The Welsh Academy - later Literature Wales. He stood down in 2011 to write full time.

Peter Finch has published more than 25 books of poetry. His most recent is Zen Cymru, published by Seren Books. His other titles include Food, Useful & Poems For Ghosts (Seren) and Antibodies (Stride). His The Welsh Poems appeared from Shearsman in 2006. His Selected Later Poems was published by Seren in 2007. A recent work is hammer lieder helicopter speak a sonic history of twentieth century music published as number one in Antonio Claudio Carvalho's revived futura series put out by p.o.w. ( poetry / oppose / war ). There are four examples of his poetry incorporated into public artworks in the city of Cardiff.

His prose works include a number of critical guides including How To Publish Your Poetry and How To Publish Yourself (Allison & Busby) as well his famous alternative handbooks, guides and literary rambles, Real Cardiff , Real Cardiff Two and Real Cardiff Three (Seren). With Grahame Davies he edited the anthology The Big Book of Cardiff (Seren). He is currently editing titles for Seren's Real Wales series and has published a book that takes in the whole country - Real Wales. His latest work is Edging The Estuary, (2013) a psychogeographic unravelling of the Bristol Channel. He is currently working on a book about music and America.

Nerys Williams's essay on Finch's work appears as Recycling the Avant-Garde in a Welsh Wordscape in Slanderous Tongues - Essays On Welsh Poetry in English 1970-2005, edited by Daniel G Williams and published by Seren, 2010.

Finch writes the self-publishing section for A&C Black's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook. He is a book reviewer and writes articles on Cardiff, Wales and the Severn Estuary. His poetry and criticism is widely published in magazines and anthologies.

His blog is at http://peterfinchpoet.blogspot.com/

His photography is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterfinch/

Grahame Davies' tribute poem

Ifor Thomas' tribute poem

Peter Finch at the Merlin
Peter Finch at the Merlin, Budapest

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Finch has also worked on a number of poetry and public art projects including the Demon Trap (with Maggs Harries) for Swansea's Year of Literature, Breathing In Time Out with Dutch artist Jeroen Van Westen for CBAT's Lamby Way Landfill site project, and with Brian Hughes of LifeWorksLife Creative Consultants for British Telecom's Internet Data Centre IDC in Cardiff Bay. He has recently completed a project to record the history and psychogeography of the Red House pub on Ferry Road.

"Since the early 1970s, Finch has been the principal innovator in Welsh poetry.....he deserves a Welsh knighthood." - Richard Kostelanetz, Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes

" Just this side of chaos" - Jon Gower

"almost a wave by himself...." -. Victor Golightly, NWR

" there's no-one writing quite like him in Wales, despite the emergence of younger urban poets in Cardiff and Swansea." -John Barnie, (on Food), Gwales.Com

" I was lucky enough to catch Peter Finch, Welsh performance poet, poetry activist, editor and impresario (he's been central to the Welsh poetry underground scene since the 60s), at a show last week, and was blown away. Wild, witty, staccato and with a voice that hints of Hopkins' Hannibal with a velvet edge, he was doing "tens" without trying. His book Selected Poems is a good place to start" - Todd Swift, in Hungary's virtual magazine @gent

" The man is like Alka-Seltzer. His words (and sounds) fly at you and fizz in your face.....Breathless and manic with dramatic pedigree, and funnnier than most stand-ups, Finch's 'intros' had the audience howling at every turn." -John Elcock, (on a last Thursday performance at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea), Roundyhouse.

"In this book, Peter Finch gets the balance damn near spot on, casting the gentlest of aspersions, giving the knife a tiny twist where necessary, but always while staring you unwaveringly in the eye as a true poet. This is not just true poetry, however, it is also travel writing of the sharpest kind.....Finch's particular skill is his supreme ability to weave the past in with the present, and to that end his illustrations are often exquisite in their sparseness". - Mike Parker on Real Cardiff Two, Planet, April, 2005

"This is a marvellous book - one of the very best books about a city I have ever read. It makes me feel terribly old-fashioned - superficial too, because I have never actually lived in the cities I have written about. I skip most of the poems, which I don't understand, but everything else in it is gripping me so fast that I have momentarily suspended my first ever reading of Wuthering Heights." - Jan Morris, writing to the author.

 

.

Finch as Taliesin

A poem by Grahame Davies
read on the occasion of Finch's standing down from his
more than decade's work at first the Academi
and then Literature Wales. May, 2011

Primary chief bard am I to Cardiff,
And my original country is the region of Roath;
Pliny's mapmaker called me Petros,
At length every one will call me . . . Finch.

I was with David at Llanddewi,
Felt the ground rise up under me.
Anything for publicity.

I was with Aneurin at Catraeth in the spring.
Just there to drink glasfedd really. And to sing.
Last time I volunteer for anything.

I was with Heledd at Cynddylan's hall;
watched the long mournful shadows fall.
Still - you can't win them all.

I was with Llywelyn at Cilmeri.
Said: 'Arglwydd, this place feels creepy.
Fine, then - don't listen to me.'

I was with Glyndwr at the end.
Left him to fetch my pen.
Came back: he'd gone again.

I was with Caradoc - yes, I know
I've skipped a couple of centuries or so -
Methodism was pretty slow.

Then Dylan,Keidrych and Glyn,
Harri, John Tripp and Gwyn.
Now it got interesting.

There is nothing in the world I have not been,
a string in a harp-song, a roadsign painted green,
a word in a book, a pixel on a screen.

Primary chief bard am I to Cardiff,
And my original country is the region of Roath;
I have been called, Petros, Pedr, Peter, Pete,
At length every one will call me . . . Finch.

Grahame Davies

 

.

Not about Pete

A poem by Ifor Thomas
read at the poet's dinner held to mark
Finch's standing down from his
more than decade's work at first the Academi
and then Literature Wales. June, 2011

He who booked the last and only beat
to read in Elm street
fresh in from City Lights
with his mother
and the cistern
that dripped
over the bar that ebbed and flowed.

Green leather jacket
posh biker writer.
In the Gower
the upstairs room but not tonight
not unless you are a pigeon fancier
or in the masons.
When Broadrib nee Ozzard drizzled
the rubber chicken squawked
the spun tube whistled
the hailer howled
Hay coughed and shuffled

as the smoke alarms
were conscripted to
loud sound poetry.

The teach
of Ty Newydd -
they sang to the songs of
Elis's chain saw, chanted Basho.
Pamela Roberts at midnight
in a candlewick dressing gown
growling at the top of the stairs.

Sue eased
the pain of the frozen peas.
Winter radish shrivel
as we learn the inevitable laws of urology.

It spills out
of the mouth,
into the blog
onto the pavements
eggs of ideas
letters scrambled
poems fried.
He of the tweet
the walking feet
the real Cardiff
the real Wales -
a real writer's treat.

Ifor Thomas




Peter Finch in the mirror

 

Contact Peter Finch at

3 Bronwydd Avenue, Penylan, Cardiff CF23 5JP, Wales.
Tel: 029 20487592


There's a mobile but he's not giving that number out.

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Peter Finch by Lorraine Bewsley

Portrait of Peter Finch
by Lorraine Bewsley



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