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top poets’ works in new anthology for tŷ hafan

An emeritus Professor of Poetry at the University of South Wales has published a collection of poems in aid of Tŷ Hafan with contributions from some of the best-known writers in the country.

Professor Tony Curtis edited the anthology, entitled Where the Birds Sing Our Names, after seeing first-hand how Tŷ Hafan offers comfort, care and support to children and young people with life-limiting conditions and their families.

Tony Curtis Ty Hafan

The book includes poems by USW Chancellor and former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams; comedian and entertainer Max Boyce; singer songwriter Kizzy Crawford; and USW Professor of Creative Writing, Philip Gross, to name just a few.

After attending the funeral of a friend’s granddaughter, who had been diagnosed with a life-limiting condition at birth and had been supported by Tŷ Hafan, Tony wanted to help the charity by creating a collection of poetry and donating all proceeds from the book to the Sully-based hospice.

“The staff at Tŷ Hafan – both frontline and administrative – do a marvellous job,” he said.

“The rooms for their children and families are kitted out with specialist equipment to help make the unbearable more manageable.

“Charities such as Tŷ Hafan have been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic, so I’m glad to be able to support them and go some way to helping raise funds.”

For each child who passes away at the hospice, a unique recorded sound imprint of the name of the child in bird song is created and played in the grounds, with a copy of the song given to the child’s family.

It was this touching tribute that gave Tony the idea for the title of the book. His introductory poem, which he also recites in this video, explains more:

Where the birds sing our names

When the children pass on
Their names are put into Morse Code, dot and dash,
And the parents choose a song-bird –
Robin, blackbird, wren and thrush –
These name-notes are played as you pass each tree
In the woods around Tŷ Hafan, the house-haven.
Bird sings to bird across the land,
A chain of notes until the trees end
And the oceans begin. Then they fly beyond.
So imitative birds pass on these name-notes of song
Against the murmurings of the sea:
Some kind of immortality.


Maria Timon Samra, Chief Executive of Tŷ Hafan, said: “My colleagues and I are incredibly grateful to Tony for having the vision and drive to see this project to fruition. He has collaborated with eminent poets across the UK who have generously contributed to this lovely book.Where the Birds Sing Our Names is an anthology of beautiful poems, with all proceeds going to support our work with children with life-limiting conditions and their families in Wales.

“Every sale will make a real difference to what we are able to provide for the 270 children in Wales who we support every year, and I am sure it will make a cherished Christmas gift for lovers of poetry everywhere.”

Where the Birds Sing Our Names is available to buy now on the Tŷ Hafan shop website here and in Tŷ Hafan charity shops across South and Mid Wales.

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