Henry, Paul 1959-
HENRY, Paul 1959-
PERSONAL: Born 1959, in Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom; married; children: three sons. Education: Attended Joseph Brodsky's poetry masterclass at Hay Festival, 1992.
ADDRESSES: Home—Gwent, Wales. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Seren, 1st and 2nd Floors, 38-40 Nolton St., Bridgend CF31 3BN, Wales.
CAREER: Formerly a singer-songwriter; freelance writer; career advisor, Cardiff, Wales; associate lecturer in creative writing.
AWARDS, HONORS: Eric Gregory Award, 1989; two Arts Council of Wales grants.
Time Pieces, Seren (Bridgend, Wales), 1991.
Captives Audience, Seren (Bridgend, Wales), 1996.
The Milk Thief, Seren (Bridgend, Wales), 1998.
The Slipped Leash, Seren (Bridgend, Wales), 2002.
Editor of "Poetry and the Family" edition of Poetry Wales. Poems have appeared in anthologies, including Burning the Bracken: Fifteen Years of Poetry from Seren, edited by Amy Wack, Seren, 1996; Twentieth-Century Anglo-Welsh Poetry, edited by Dannie Abse, Seren, 1997; and Oxygen: New Poets from Wales, edited by Amy Wack and Grahame Davies, Seren, 2000. Also contributor to The Gregory Anthology, Reflecting Families, and Beond Bedlam.
SIDELIGHTS: A Welsh poet, Paul Henry began his creative career as a singer-songwriter. Then, as he told York Vision interviewer Jon Bentham, at some point "the words became more interesting than the music. . . . The more poetry I read, the more superficial my song lyrics seemed—all those full-rhymes to accommodate the rather conventional songs I was writing—you know, two verses, a middle-eight, another verse and so on . . . and putting in those flabby 'So's,' 'Yeah's,' and 'Just's' that poems won't let you get away with."
Henry's poems are notable for their focus on the seemingly mundane features of life and on his own family members. However, although his poems are highly local and personal, critics have often found a deeper meaning in them, as Henry told Bentham that he hoped readers would. For example, Henry's second collection, Captive Audience, presents a series of elegies to the narrator's father, surrounded by poems about people in ordinary jobs—butchers, educators, and even town planners and violinists—going about their days. In a review of this book for the Times Literary Supplement, one critic commented that the work "is firmly rooted in the ordinary; yet at the same time it reveals the sacredness that is hidden there."
Henry's third collection, The Milk Thief, also is built around poems about his family members. In this case, the book's heart is a series of "affectionately acerbic portraits" of Henry's relatives, including "Gwyneth Blue" and "Nightingale Ann," as Chris Greenhalgh described it in a Times Literary Supplement review. Greenhalgh also noted that "Henry's background as a song-writer is strongly evident at times in the subtle and delicate rhythms and the haunting italicized refrains scattered throughout these pages."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Times Literary Supplement, March 7, 1997, review of Captive Audience, p. 32; April 23, 1999, Chris Greenhalgh, review of The Milk Thief, p. 26.
York Vision, May 28, 2002, Jon Bentham, "Waxing Lyrical" [interview with Henry], p. 32.
Paul Henry Home Page,http://www.geocities.com/paulhenrywales (December 9, 2004).
Seren Books Web site,http://www.seren-books.com/ (December 9, 2004), "Paul Henry."