Saturday’s Guardian contained this review of a new collection by Stephen Romer, which was slightly strange, as just a few weeks back I’d been wondering what became of him, having liked some of his work back in the early 90s (I remember it as being a bit Hugo Williams-ish, but maybe my memory is playing tricks) but come across precious little since.
Of course, just because a poet is taking his time between collections doesn’t mean he isn’t busy, and Romer’s French connection has always been a strong one. Living on the other side of the Channel for more than 25 years pretty much ensures that your poetic profile in this country is lowered somewhat, I’d guess.
It set me thinking about another “where is he now?” A while ago on this blog, I mentioned having bought three of Oliver Reynolds’ four collections in secondhand shops, and having enjoyed them all (the fact he often writes about Cardiff helps, because I lived there for a few years. In fact, he deserves an award for getting the placename Splott into a poem - I'd guess Peter Finch might also have managed it sometime, but probably no one else. I recently also bought what I think is his most recent book, Almost, but even that is eight or nine years old. I think he has also worked extensively in theatre, but he seems to be a very low-profile poet, which is perhaps a little strange given that his first two books seemed to draw an awful lot of critical plaudits.
So, I'd be interested to know, what does anyone else think of his work? Any ideas what he's doing now? He doesn't seem to me to fit very comfortably into any particular 'school', or into any stereotype of Welsh contemporary poetry, so is that one reason why he's not so visible? I'd love to know more...