With the death of Nigel Jenkins, Wales has lost one of its best-known poets, as well as one of its strongest proponents of poetry and the arts. Nigel was a tireless teacher, writer, and activist–and he was also a caring individual who held his family and friends dear.
I had the privilege of teaching a week-long workshop with Nigel several years ago at Ty Newydd in the North of Wales. Our teaching styles were very different–and I was suffering with an acute blood sugar problem that was making even staying awake difficult for me–but that week was one of the best experiences in a poetry workshop that I have ever had. Two of our students, Kim Moore and Manon James, have gone on to distinguish themselves as writers. Nigel made the students read, read read–their own work and the work of other poets in Ty Newydd’s library. He made them revise until they were exhausted. But he was also patient, kind, and helpful in every way imaginable and I have no doubt that all of the students came away feeling that they had experienced a transformation.
Nigel Jenkins worked in both poetry and prose, and he wrote mostly in English, but his heart was in Wales, and almost all of his writing reflects his abiding loyalty to and support of his country. He leaves two daughters, about whose success he was passionate and who were always on his mind. He also leaves a wide circle of friends, to whom he was unrelentingly generous, without thought for what profits might–or might not–accrue to him as a result of that generosity.
I have long loved the literature, topography, and history of Wales, and Nigel Jenkins embodied the best of that country. I will miss him deeply.