Dylan Day at the Half Moon - 14 May

The Half Moon in Herne Hill celebrates its connection with the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas on Sunday 14 May – Dylan Day – with a special all-star cast of Cymru counter culturalists - leading authority on the work and legacy of Dylan Thomas, Professor Daniel G. Williams; poets Aneirin Karadog, Martin Daws, and Zaru Jonson; with music by Double Bassist Huw V. Williams, and UK Beatbox Star Mr Phormula.

Dylan Day 2017 poster

Dylan Day is an international day to celebrate the life and work of Dylan Thomas, held each year on 14 May, the date when ‘Under Milk Wood’ was first read on stage in New York in 1953.

The event is, ‘Wales Bird : Aderyn Rhiannon, Dylan Thomas in the American Century’, and is free, starting at 1pm in The Workshop space at the Half Moon. The performance is described as a form of ‘edutainment’, conjuring up a Lecture Room and a Jazz Club, a Poetry Reading and a Hip Hop Cypher.

Dylan Thomas at The Half Moon

It was Dylan's friend, sculptor and London Welsh rugby player, Evan Samuel, who first recounted how, "Dylan used to come to watch the London Welsh games, and when, after the match, the teams would gather, as rugger clubs do, for a few pints at the old Half Moon Hotel at Herne Hill, Dylan would be there adding lustre to the gathering. He was a great conversationalist".

After London Welsh games at the Herne Hill Velodrome, the Half Moon would resound late into the evening with the singing of Sospan Fach and Calon Lan. Walk into the Half Moon today, and it is still easy to imagine Dylan standing, tousled-haired, poetically dressed in tweeds, and pint in hand, in the smoke-filled Public Bar. Completely in his element amongst fellow Welshmen, taking centre-stage in the conversation in-between the singing, and occasionally searching around in his pockets for his little red pencil, and surreptitiously making notes on the back of his woodbine packet.

Would Dylan himself have approved of Dylan Day celebrations at the Half Moon? He would certainly have been amused up to a point, not least at the connection between his former lodgings on Milkwood Road in Herne Hill, and the marking of the first stage performance of Under Milk Wood. He would then, most probably, have joined in the fun. Dylan was, as expert Jon Tregenna points out, “Pretty rock ‘n roll.