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Poet organises 'last wRites' in memory of bypass trees.

Byline: By Karen Price Western Mail

He may have lost his campaign to save thousands of trees from being destroyed to make way for a bypass, but poet Patrick Jones has now compiled an anthology of poems about the situation.

last wRites has gone on sale to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.

It also contains poems by Jones's brother, Manic Street Preacher Nicky Wire; fellow Welsh poets, including Owen Sheers; and other Blackwood residents who were involved in the campaign.

The introduction to the anthology has been written by Jones's mother, Irene Jones, who spent 15 years campaigning for around 3,000 trees to be saved.

Mrs Jones, who was an impassioned member of the St David's Wood Appeal, fought the pounds 55m scheme on ecological grounds.

She and her fellow eco-warriors objected to the destruction of the trees in the tranquil haven separating the burgeoning Valleys communities of Blackwood, Oakdale and Penmaen.

They were also concerned about the welfare of a large number of bats which converge in the area.

'You've got to stand up for what you believe in and I think the building of this bypass is a travesty,' said Mrs Jones during the campaign.

The residents wrote poems about their plight and even pinned them to the oak trees which were earmarked for destruction in a bid to get their views heard.

But their pleas fell on deaf ears and the trees were felled two years ago to make way for the bridge.

Now those who have contributed to the book of poems are hoping to organise a poetry reading to take place on the bridge in the near future.

'We wanted to put together a little monument in a way,' said Patrick, who has written a number of plays, including Everything Must Go and The War Is Dead, Long Live The War.

'The poems are full of feeling, angry and poignant.'

Jones said he was delighted with the response from the residents as well as well-known poets like Sheers, Nigel Jenkins and Peter Finch.

Broadcaster and soprano Beverley Humphries also penned some verses for the anthology as did Jones's two sons - Ethan, 13, and 10-year-old Evan.

'It just shows how strongly people feel about the matter,' he said.

Patrick is also full of praise for his 67-year-old mother for being so dedicated to the cause.

'She's very brave - she's quite a quiet lady but she's passionate about what she believes in and gets on with it,' he said.

Jones is also pleased with the support from his brother Nicky Wire, who is working on an eighth studio album with his band as well as planning the release of his debut solo album.

'His poem is called Bypass Nation.

'For a lyricist it can be more difficult to write a poem but this is a good one,' added Jones.

The poet and playwright wanted proceeds from the anthology, which costs just pounds 2.50 and contains around 30 poems, to go to a worthy cause.

Cancer Research UK had already invited him to pen a poem for their charity so he decided to raise funds for them with the new book of poems.

Copies of last wRites will be available in Blackwood shops or by sending a pounds 2.50 cheque or postal order, payable to Cancer Research UK, to Poetry anthology, c/o Greenfield, Park Terrace, Woodfield Side, Blackwood, NP20 OPE.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 3, 2006
Words:567
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