OUT OF WALES

By Jon Dressel
Port Talbot, Wales: Alun Books, 1984
ISBN # 0-907117-37-6
91 pages

Comments by Bob Corbett
April 2011

This is the first time I have written down any comments about Jon Dresselís book, however, I have read it at least Ĺ dozen times, and read various poems aloud to friends for years. Going though the book from beginning to end once again, it was just like sitting down with an old friend you havenít seen for a while and having a long chat over a few mellow glasses of wine. Iím sure Jon would prefer that would be with Welsh ale, but no matter.

I met Jon when he was teaching in the English department of Webster University (then Webster College) in the 1970s and I was in the philosophy department. Jon not only taught and wrote, but he also owned a Welsh pub in a bohemian area of St. Louis. Later he sold that establishment, and even moved to Wales where these poems were written, and upon return to St. Louis, and unable to buy back his former establishment, he opened a new place, Dresselís, just around the corner. It is still there and one of the very popular places in St. Louis. The pub displays Jonís loves and is decorated with large posters of poets and famous classical composers.

The poems of this volume are all old friends of mine too. As a family historian myself I am captivated by several genealogical poems about his grandfather and grandmother who came from Wales to the U.S., but kept a great deal of Wales in their daily lives. There is a set of hilarious takes on three biblical tales which rank high on my list. But the essence of the touching and witty poems are about life in Wales of that ten year people when Jon was there. There is Dai, sort of the local pubís bum who hangs around and somehow survives yet never seems to work. There is my hero the man in the Council houses who somehow finds a great sack of cockles and mussels so Jon can serve some visiting Americans. As a father of many kids myself, I marvel at the poem about his own children using the telephone booth of the tiny village to call another similarly tiny near-by village and relish the nearly international feel of such ďlong-distanceĒ calls.

After closing the book on this most recent read, I just sat back for a while, smiling at the delights these several days have given me. I have put the book back on my poetry shelf, but I know it wonít stay there too long until some memory or moment will come to me and I will pull Out of Wales off the shelf and hurry to an oft read poem, relishing the comfort and joy that will bring.

Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu

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Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu