In rural Wales, wandering the dunes west of Pwllheli, John Fuller has composed a letter on the subject of travel: warning against it, wondering about people’s presences and absences, and serenely admiring ‘the Wales of sheep and song’. His correspondent, young Andrew Wynn Owen, replies with friendly enthusiasm, matching John’s poetic form while flouting his advice and hopping from gallery to garret via Luxembourg and Venice. Between them, they consider: is it better to risk seeming ‘stay-at-home, | A stick in mud’ or ‘to pass life scared | Of stillnesses’?
AWOL is an infinitely charming collaboration between the eminent poet John Fuller, with a career spanning over 50 years, and bright young poet Andrew Wynn Owen, whose first pamphlet was published in 2014.
Beautifully produced in a large square format, this book is illustrated throughout in full-colour with watercolours and line drawings by Emma Wright. The epistolary poems are composed in terza rima in tetrameter lines, reflecting both poets’ love of metre and formal challenges.
‘Complemented by Wright’s illustrations, Fuller’s contributions are a vivid evocation of what he calls in his sixth verse letter ‘the Wales of sheep and song’. Their deeper preoccupation, however, is whether it is better to stay or go. Travelling is often deemed more virtuous than staying home, but perhaps fidelity to a situation is the more virtuous and, at least, kinder to one’s friends. ‘ – Robert Selby, BookSmoke