I recently opened the pages of Weekend, the Saturday magazine published by Wales’ national newspaper, the Western Mail to a double spread entitled Close Encounters and a poignant photograph of one of Wales’ most treasured writers, poets, and psychogeographers, Nigel Jenkins, who sadly died of pancreatic cancer in January this year.
The article was penned by H’mm Foundation’s Ali Anwar, a close friend of Nigel, who is responsible, together with Editor Jon Gower of putting together a collection of essays in a recently published book, Encounters with Nigel. As Ali states in his intro stanza: Only a poet with a big talent and personality could have inspired a collection of essays about his presence.
Nigel was present in my life for just over three years. As my MA tutor he fired my imagination and a love of poetry. As my MA dissertation supervisor he allowed me scope to explore writing that was a hybrid of genres. Such was Nigel’s take on possibility. At the time of his death, Nigel was my PhD supervisor, his presence always there.
We shared Gower: he from the south and me the north of this peninsula which he sometimes described as too beautiful for its own good. And it is this aspect of my personal encounter with Nigel that I was proud to be asked to write about in this collection of essays. In my essay, A Gower Man I have tried to capture the special nature of our too short time together but the lasting impression he has made on my writing about Gower.
The book’s cover image arrests me. It was taken by my husband Philip www.philipgriffithsphotography as part of his across the threshold series, when Nigel visited our home just months before his death. We were mooching around the village of Llangennith together for his psychogeography Real Gower which he had almost finished when he died.
So, this book has a special place in my heart . But I’m not alone. That was the thing about Nigel. He made everyone feel special and was special to so many people. Those impressions are there in this book for all to read and get to know again, or to know for the first time, this man who touched so many.