Merthyr Exciting Writing Squad

Mike Jenkins & Squad
Merthyr Town Centre provided inspiration for members of the Merthyr Exciting Writing Squad to link to the Global Poetry System project initiated by the South Bank Centre.

Eight Young People joined celebrated poet and children’s author Mike Jenkins to explore the poetry in the town centre and identify local landmarks and people’s conversations as sources of inspiration for their own work.

Merthyr town centre has a fascinating history linked to mining and local culture. This has been celebrated in a selection of poetry inlaid in stone benches as part of the town’s regeneration scheme.

Extracts of a wide selection of Welsh and English Language poets including, Mike Jenkins, Grahame Davies and Glyn Jones to name a few, highlight the rich cultural diversity of the town.

The selection of found and constructed poems can now be found on the Global Poetry System website:

Merthyr Monument

The Forgotten Places

Places that once were grand are left to fall apart.
Places once loved are forgotten, discarded like sweet wrappers, swept away in the wind.
Places swallowed by the gloomy atmosphere that holds Merthyr like a prison.
Places trapped in a fortress of noise, endless conversation slurred by last night’s mighty pint, with the impatient roar of the metal lion and the howl of the wind.
Places ruined by the art of the ASBOs and the unwanted. Places yearning for respect, places where heroes are remembered.
Places longing to be loved, loved by the people. Places needing life, needing an escape from a dreary world of vultures snapping at purses.
Places demanding attention, wanting to be noticed like the proud statues of heroes that once were.
Places of music and art that are lost in the depths of the high street, the gloom of the town and the world of the mine.
Ethan Evans

Forgotten Parts of Town

The Miner’s Hall in Merthyr,
Once a busy dance hall
Now a derelict building.
The Town Hall,
It rules over the top of town
With it’s boarded up windows
And signs saying “Stay Away”.
The forgotten Theatre Royal,
Where many have performed,
Was then turned into a Bingo Hall,
Now it’s closed with the shutters permanently down.
Old Flooks the Jewellers,
Stood open for many years,
Only recently though,
It was forced to close,
Who would want to take on
A business that’s old not new?
The noise,
The people flitting past,
Will never acknowledge these pieces of history,
Standing tall,
But alone,
Holding stories from the past.
Carys Davies

The Streets of Merthyr

Sitting on the sidewalk,
Begging on the street,
Do you think I’d still be here,
If I had enough to eat?
I see the old buildings,
The ruined YMCA
It makes me sad to see them all,
Boarded up and going away.
You pass me on the streets,
You never meet my eye,
You think that I don’t notice,
You think that I don’t try.
I lost my wife and son,
It made me lose my mind,
I sit here with the broken buildings,
Trying to find my way out of this grime.
Closings and dereliction,
I see it all,
The run-down streets are my home now,
Through Winter, Spring and Fall.
Caitlin Williams

Mike Jenkins Bethesda

The Library

I’m an old dull building,
That needs refurbishing.
I’m filled with lots of different books
That people find interesting.
The younger generation walk past,
And don’t really notice me.
I’m mostly filled with old people,
But lots of toddlers too.
My true beauty is on the inside,
And each of my books is a
Different journey.
Adventures, Sci-Fi, Romance, Historical,
Mystery, Non-Fiction, Musical and Horror.
I hold books for all ages,
And all genders too.
Look past my surface,
And come inside.
I might have something for you.
Hâf Evans

The people of my Town

As I walk amongst the run-down streets of Merthyr. I looked at my fellow pedestrians and shoppers around me.
A gang of teenagers sit in a circle. As though around a warm campfire, but a frown sits upon their faces, and they speak foul language.
They sit there slouched, sharing a cigarette, passing it round, inhaling fumes slowly, as if it’s their only prized possession.
I then passed a young woman, concealed by a mask of make-up, hurriedly walking as though she was trying to escape someone’s grasp.
She seemed still not mature, chewing gum, with her mouth wide open, yet she hauled a push chair bearing her child along with her.
In a split second she had passed.
I could smell the damp wood blocking the windows of a small building no longer in use. The only part of the building that looked like it was being used was the doorstep, which was called ‘Home’ by a man living there with a black bag of his belongings.
As I paused my journey to put my umbrella away, I thought about the people I had seen, the people of my town.
Sophie Evans

The noise as you walk down the grubby pavements
Almost deafens you as the cars rush past.
The drivers stare straight ahead
In their little bubble of road rage
They pass things they never knew existed.
And probably never will.
Boarded up buildings like the old Town Hall,
Slowly fading away as people
Decide what to do with it.
And vandalised monuments
With graffiti scrawled on the side
In black marker pen and
Rainbow spray paints.
They all have history, hidden away.
They pass smoking teenagers
And Chinese takeaways
They still see nothing
except the road in front of them.
Victoria Maidman

Merthyr Town

Seeing my town through iron bars
Surrounded by scenery which yawns and groans.
Restricted to stay, dependent, contained
Longing for experiences of my own.

Not wanting to be another,
Chartered and restrained like the rest.
‘shopaholics’ and materialism taken over.
And this is Society at it’s best?

Metal manacles with the Government’s stamp
Effecting all, unaware.
How many blissfully ignorant,
Too stupid to notice or care.

So many angry at the innocent,
Deaf to silence, blind to the void
Helpless to help themselves.
Kiera Moran

Merthyr Theatre.