Wednesday, September 15, 2010

T H Parry-Williams - Uneasy Rider

Think of motorcycles in popular culture and you will probably conjure up images of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper astride their customised choppers in Easy Rider (1969). Those of a more literary (and philosophical) persuasion might consider Robert M Pirsig’s, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974). Or maybe one of Ralph “Sonny” Barger’s riotous biker memoirs, such as Hell’s Angel (2001), is more your cup of tea. Politicos, no doubt, will be quick to reference Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries wherein Marxism collides with road-tripping cool.

In Wales, writer and academic T H Parry-Williams was way ahead of the game. His motorcycle essay, KC 16, was first published in the literary magazine Y Llenor all the way back in 1922. The title is derived from the number plate of his motorbike (see pic), a Douglas 2 flat-twin model. By penning cultural essays, as well as the more typical poetry, the Sorbonne-educated Welsh-language writer was unusual in Wales (he still is!) and something of a pioneer.

*And while we're on the subject, why not check out the '92 video for Motorcycle Emptiness by the Manics.