"It's an invigorating and captivating approach. I couldn't put it down" – Poetry Review
"...Jordan is a masterful and sensitive poet whose poems are rent with staggering insight, depth, rhythm and subtlety... As a rule I never use the word genius, but Jordan almost forces me to write it in connection with the way he stitches footnotes about his own family in among the tales of chivalry, betrayal and love... If you only buy one book of poetry this year, I suggest it's Regeneration by Meirion Jordan." – Poetry Salzburg Review
"...this is not only a well-written set of poems in themselves but an impassioned and well-researched collection." – Poetry Wales
Regeneration is Welsh poet Meirion Jordan’s take on the medieval manuscripts known today as Llyfr Coch Hergest and Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch (the Red Book of Hergest and the White Book of Rhydderch). This collection is not a ‘reinterpretation’ but a re-imagining, inspired by the source material that include the stories of the Mabinogi (first made famous by the Victorian translations of Lady Charlotte Guest) as well as by Malory’s version of King Arthur’s tales.
In 'Red Book' we meet characters drawn from the eleven stories of the Mabinogi, like ‘Arawn, lord of Annwn’; ‘Rhiannon’s gossips’ and ‘Blodauwedd (the woman made of flowers)’. These poems evoke what Meirion Jordan calls in his insightful preface ‘half-recalled heroic landscapes’; they capture the elusive essence of these characters, their mysterious passions and their sometimes violent and often strange adventures in Jordan’s distinctive poetic style. His pared-down pure lyricism and tightly enjambed free-verse lines bring brevity and clarity to these tales without subtracting their unsettling power to move us.
'White Book' gives us a cast of kings, queens, knights and companions of the round table. This long poem treats themes of love, betrayal, friendship, kinship, and the vexed question of leadership, in poems that revolve around the contentious figure of King Arthur. The footnotes provide for scale, casting the great themes of Arthur’s story against a backdrop of real lives, lived in the landscapes that inspired the original myths.
The inventive format of the printed book (both sections ‘back to back’ with separate covers) echoes the division of the original manuscripts into ‘red’ and ‘white’ books.