Every year at this time, I start rehearsing A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, who was born one hundred years ago on October 27, 1914. It’s a wonderful story about a man, about my age, remembering his childhood Christmases. “I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.”
I first heard the poem at a small Christmas dinner hosted by Ian and Victoria Robertson at their cozy home on the campus of Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC. I fell in love with Thomas’ rich language. “Birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills.” “The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe web-footed men wheezing in caves.”
While Ian read for a pleasant twenty-seven minutes; I kept thinking, what would it be like to learn such a beautiful piece by heart? Soon after, I got a copy and started memorizing. It took me a few months to learn the whole poem. The following December 1988, I recited it at Ian and Victoria’s Christmas dinner.
I was thirty-eight at the time and had no idea twenty-six years later I’d be more excited that ever about performing Child’s Christmas as a gift to my friends this coming holiday season. According to NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, is more popular in America than ever. Every time I perform the poem, I learn something new; that’s why they call it art, right?
I’m scheduled to present A Child’s Christmas in Wales at The Black Mountain Center for the Arts, Black Mountain, NC, December 21 at 4pm. The show is free, my gift for the holiday season. Join me if you can.
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