Diary of the Last Man

with Robert Minhinnick and Eamon Bourke

A film and a poetry reading with award-winning poet Robert Minhinnick and film director Eamon Bourke.

Wales Book of the Year 2018
Winner of the 2018 Roland Mathias Poetry Award
Shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize

Robert Minhinnick is an award-winning and acclaimed contemporary Welsh poet. Carol Ann-Duffy described him as ‘one of the most important poets of these turbulent times’.

We welcome Robert Minhinnick and Eamon Bourke to Kendal to share his newest volume of poetry - Diary of the Last Man - and the exceptional film that has been created to sit alongside it.

Diary of the Last Man is an imaginative, intimate film-portrait of the writer Robert Minhinnick, created by director Eamon Bourke. The film charts a walk between the mouths of the rivers Cynffig and Ogwr on the south coast of Wales. A beguiling cinematic experience that shifts and turns with the tide following the poet and his alter egos deep into the hidden and threatened landscapes illuminated in this award winning collection.

The opening poem sequence, ‘Diary of the Last Man’, sets the tone for the collection, a celebration of the dwindling Earth, an elegy, a caution. The sequence remembers all the geographies of his earlier work, old and new world, but now unpeopled and the lonely spirit free to go anywhere, do anything, but meaning with mankind has drained away. Yet still alive, and still with language, registering.

The rest of the book is filled with voices: of children, of rivers, terrorists, magicians; and voices translated from the Welsh, and from Turkish and Arabic, shared, enriching with their difference, their other worlds. History washes over and washes up on the strand of this Welsh book. It is seen and recognised, it begins to be transformed.  In the long concluding poem, ‘The Sand Orchestra’, the poet returns to his own voice, and to the voice of a Bechstein piano abandoned in the open air, played now by nature, its winds and sand. The last man, who has been looking for Ulysses, is the very man he has been looking for.

  • Robert Minhinnick's new collection confirms his status as one of the most important poets of these turbulent times. Bleakly elegiac, environmentally political, vital and visionary, his poems cast an extraordinary light over our darkening landscapes.

    Carol Ann Duffy

  • It is in observing these cycles of sea and river, human and animal, that Minhinnick most excels, and his collection as a whole is beautifully and acoustically attuned to what is most precious in out lives and around us

    Suzannah V Evans

    New Welsh Review on Diary of the Last Man

  • While Robert Minhinnick's Diary of the Last Man is rooted in the dunescapes of the author's hometown of Porthcawl, it is also a work that is intrinsically internationalist in outlook. The long title poem is a wry, standing-ovation-worthy requiem for humanity predominantly set on the Welsh coast but it could be argued that Minhinnick reserves his most powerful poetry for when he casts his eyes abroad.

    Wales Arts Review

    Highlights of the Year 2017

  • This is environmentalism turned into elegy. It's so powerful, so political... These are serious poems for serious times..that will stay with you and make you think about what we're doing with the planet.

    Carolyn Hitt

    Wales Book of the Year Awards Judge

About the author

Robert Minhinnick was born in 1952 and lives in south Wales, his recent publications include the novels, Sea Holly (2007) and Limestone Man (2015) from Seren and Fairground Music: the World of Porthcawl Funfair (Gomer, 2010). He edited the international quarterly, Poetry Wales, 1997 – 2008, and received a major Creative Wales award in 2008 to write a collection of short stories about refugees, The Keys of Babylon (Seren, 2011). His poems have twice won the Forward Prize for ‘best individual poem’ and his essays have twice won Wales Book of the Year. An established environmentalist, he is joint founder of Friends of the Earth Cymru, 1984, and the charity, Sustainable Wales, founded 1997, for which he is a special advisor. A film, Diary of the Last Man made by Park6 Productions, is released in 2017.

About the filmmaker

Eamon Bourke, born and raised in Cumbria is a filmmaker who specialises in documentary film portraits. Working with poets and writers to translate their work into film he has his own film production business (Park6 Productions) based in Hay on Wye, Wales. He is currently working with Israeli film director Ilan Moskovitch on a film portrait of a pig farmer in the Black Mountains.