Why Practice Made Dylan Perfect

Dylan Thomas writing shed
In case you missed it, there was a wonderful championing of Dylan Thomas by Owen Sheers on BBC 2 over the weekend.

And for writers, it reached the core of the poet’s genius, his obsession with language, the most apposite word and making the words do exactly what he wanted them to.

We heard poetry professor Paul Muldoon say there was much ‘banging and sawing’ in how Dylan made poetry, his results being ‘clinker-built marvels’ of



And we learnt that over 200 worksheets were involved in the creation of Poem On His Birthday, showing how the poem evolved word-by-word.

Owen Sheers described how words got changed from the quite ordinary to the more exceptional: ‘sings’ to ‘spins’ and ‘shriller the sun’ to ‘louder the sun’.

I loved this programme: it reminded you that amongst all the cuffufle and puff surrounding his centenary year, Dylan was – above all – an extraordinarily inventive wordsmith.