‘STRANGE SEAS OF THOUGHT’
We are very pleased to confirm that this year’s conference will take place, once again, in-person, at the Wessex Hotel in Street. Our venue is situated only a short walking distance from some of the key locations described in A Glastonbury Romance. The title of this year’s conference is taken from Wordsworth’s reference to the mind of Newton “for ever voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone”.
The conference will commence on Friday night with Charles Lock leading a celebratory toast in advance of JCP’s 150th birthday. Our speakers will explore themes associated with creativity, thinking, visionary experience, myth and transformation, abandoned ideas and issues concerned with the editing of JCP’s texts.
Louise de Bruin will explore the inner world, intense thoughts and passionate emotions of Katie Powys through readings from Katie’s private diary.
We are delighted to welcome Michael Grenfell (emeritus professor at the University of Southampton) who is attending a Powys Society conference for the first time. Michael will consider some of the possible connections between William Blake and JCP from their joint quest for gnosis and illumination to the influence of gnostic ideas about good and evil and their shared dedication to the faculty of the imagination. “Imagination is My World” declared Blake. “Imagination not God’s will is what creates” said JCP.
We are also very pleased to welcome Felix Taylor to our conference for the first time. Felix has just achieved his DPhil with a dissertation that includes a chapter on JCP. In his talk Felix will discuss JCP’s relationship to Welsh myth and especially his use of the strange stories narrated in the Mabinogion reminding us of JCP’s response to the landscape surrounding his home at Blaenau Ffestiniog which he called ‘romantic and Mabinogionish”.
On our free Saturday afternoon conference goers are invited to travel to Montacute and enjoy a guided walk to St Michael’s Hill which is topped by a circular tower from where there are views over the fields towards Glastonbury Tor. We will pause here for readings from JCP’s first published novel Wood and Stone. We will then proceed along a woodland path on the south side of Hedgecock Hill woods and Ham Hill to the Prince of Wales public house (which features at the end of Wood and Stone) from where there are panoramic views over the Somerset levels and where there will be an opportunity to listen to readings from Llewelyn’s essays on Hedgecock Hill and Ham Hill. We return to Montacute via the north side of Ham Hill. The entire walk encompasses a distance of approximately 3.37 miles and should take about 80 to 90 minutes to complete at a leisurely pace. Alternatively members may wish to remain in Montacute and explore places associated with the Powyses in the village.
On Saturday evening Chis Michaelides, Hilary Bedder and Robin Hickey will read a selection of Katie Powys’s poetry, and Richard Perceval Graves will read a selection of JCP’s letters to Katie.
On Sunday morning Morine Krissdóttir will give a talk on editing the deleted chapters of Wolf Solent and also examine wider questions about editing JCP’s texts for publication. This will be followed by a panel discussion with conference members which we hope will include our two sponsors from Australia Adrian Gattenhof and Peter Brittain. Charles Lock will conclude the conference with a talk on the different ways in which our reading of Wolf Solent is altered by the addition of JCP’s deleted chapters.
This year the AGM will take place immediately after breakfast from 9.30-10.30am. The book room will be open as usual at selected hours with a new selection of titles including examples of the Society’s own publications.
Chris Thomas, Hon Secretary