Gaabriel Becket


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Tis’ the season to be jolly, giving and grateful and AmeriCymru is thankful for all our amazing members, for your friendship, your contributions to the network and everything we’ve learned from you all over the years.  

The end of 2016 marks eight years of AmeriCymru.  Thousands of people around the world found the site, became part of it and joined us in celebrating Wales and Welsh heritage, sharing your own experiences and telling everyone more about Wales.  We created a non-profit, the Meriwether Lewis Memorial Eisteddfod Foundation (MLMEF) and used it to put on five years of the West Coast Eisteddfod as a live event, bringing Welsh and Welsh-American writers, musicians and artists to new audiences, and to sponsor years of our online competitions.  

Please donate to support AmeriCymru in the New Year!

Donations are paid to the Meriwether Lewis Memorial Eisteddfod Foundation, a US 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in the State of Oregon.  You can verify our non-profit status on the IRS website and find us on charity reporting sites Guidestar , Great Non-Profits and CharityScout

Nadolig Llawen, Merry Christmas from AmeriCymru! red dragon on Christmas tree

In 2017, we are honored to participate with the New Welsh Review  and Aberystwyth University to sponsor the AmeriCymru Novella award, a first-ever opportunity for Welsh and Welsh-American writers in the United States and Canada to participate in the New Welsh Review Writing Awards.  This competition has previously only been open to writers in Wales.  

In addition to allowing Americans and Canadians to submit work for the first time, the competition is being judged by its first Welsh-American, AmeriCymru member David Lloyd.  David was the winner of the 2015 West Coast Eisteddfod short story competition and the editor of Other Land , a collection of poetry describing the Welsh and Welsh-American experience, in addition to authoring other collections of poetry and novels and directing the creative writing program at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York.  

We need your help to make this and other projects possible with your tax-deductible, year-end donation.  We are sponsoring the competition, the competition prize and bringing our judge and the winner of the novella category to Hay-on-Wye in Wales to receive their prize at the Hay Book Festival.  Everyone who works on our projects and events is an unpaid volunteer, Ceri and I included and, of course, we also donate out of our own pockets to fund activities. 100% of your donations goes to fund costs of the projects and events we put on.

Please show your support and donate this holiday season!  Help us bring on the Welshness!

Gaabriel Becket from Welsh-American social network interviewed mezzo soprano Megan Morris after her performances at the 2011 North American Festival of Wales in Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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This is a hilarious portrait series by Washington state photographer, Kevin Horan, for a show in Dallas, Texas called "Critters." I would love to go see this whole show!

Walking around Hay today

By gaabi, 2016-06-03

Ceri and I are in Talgarth, Powys, in Wales attending the annual Hay Book Festival. Today we went to the festival first and then to the town of Hay-on-Wye, to wait for Niall Griffiths to arrive and meet us at the Blue Boar pub.

The town is full of people milling around window shopping, eating ice cream, a dad brought a giant bubble loop to play with his and other children in the parking lot just below the castle - a lovely pack of wild, happy, bouncing kids running and dancing after giant bubbles which floated out and over the wall of the castle grounds.

three sidewalk poets at Hay-on-Wye

Ceri met three poets for hire, sitting at a table on the very narrow sidewalk. Selling poems they pounded out for passersby on typewriters set on rickety tables in front of them, they were surrounded and fortified by glasses of beer and cider.  We decided to commission a poem for the landlady and all the other wonderful people at the Castle Hotel and this is what we got:

Ode to Talgarth

The G & T certainly helped.

Steadied me in that

Sea of writers.

I swam with ideas.

Landlady, hold the lantern on the mooring

as I approach.

I won't drip too much on the rug,

but you'll have to sit up with me a while.

( - Tim Siddall, Lewis Parker, Edmund Davie)

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Back to Welsh Literature page >

This was the thing that brought us to Hay, an invitation to come to the New Welsh Writing Awards shortlist announcement ceremony, put on by the literary magazine, the New Welsh Review.  Below is their press release,with details on the event.  There are also links to read the stories and to vote for the winning story, any reader can vote -

Travel Writing Prize shortlist encompasses three continents

2016 New Welsh Review, New Welsh Writing Awards shortlist members 2016 New Welsh Writing Awards shortlist, Photo: Left to right, Mandy Sutter, Nathan Llywelyn Munday, John Harrison

New Welsh Review, in association with the University of South Wales and CADCentre, announced the shortlist for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2016: University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing at an event at the Hay Festival on 1 June.

Two professional writers, John Harrison and Mandy Sutter and PhD student Nathan Llywelyn Munday are now in the running for the top prize, which will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff on 7 July 2016.

The Prize celebrates the best short form travel writing (5,000-30,000 words) from emerging and established writers based in the UK and Ireland plus those who have been educated in Wales. The judges are New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies and award winning travel writer Rory MacLean.

First prize is £1,000 cash, e-publication by New Welsh Review on their New Welsh Rarebyte imprint in 2016 and a positive critique by leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at WME. Second prize is a weeklong residential course in 2016 of the winner’s choice at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales. Third prize is a weekend stay at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, north Wales. All three winners will also receive a one-year subscription to the magazine.

The shortlist comprises two books and a long-form essay in uplifting prose set in Europe, Africa and South America. In Mandy Sutter’s ‘Bush Meat: As My Mother Told Me’, a Nigerian domestic scene unfolds, where subtle and interdependent racial and class issues are seething under a tight lid. John Harrison’s book tracks the rise and fall of the pre-Columbian city of Tiwanaku in Bolivia, highest city in the ancient world and the hub of a trading empire stretching from Chile to Peru. And European creation myths are the theme in Nathan Llywelyn Munday’s map of the highs and lows of the grand narrative as he treks with his father through the Pyrenees.

The standard this year was once again so high that a further three, highly commended entries were awarded, which will all be published in extract form in the autumn edition of New Welsh Reader (112), New Welsh Review’s creative magazine, publishing on 1 September. Entrants will receive a standard fee of £170 for publication. These highly commended pieces, two long-form essays and a prose book, range from a Trans-Siberian train voyage, through explorations of home, exile and return in Ghana and Liberia, and a love story to underground springs of Mayan culture in tourist-riven Yucatan.


John Harrison (London, England) The Rains of Titikaka

Nathan Llywelyn Munday (Cardiff, Wales) Seven Days: A Pyrenean Trek

Mandy Sutter (Ilkley, England)            Bush Meat: As My Mother Told Me

Highly commended

Hannah Garrard (Norwich, England) No Situation is Permanent

Julie Owen Moylan (Cardiff, Wales) Anxiety and Wet Wipes on Train Number Four

Karen Philips (Pembrokeshire, Wales)           Stranger Shores

Shortlist Showcase with Interviews, Readings and Animation, produced by Emily Roberts in partnership with Aberystwyth University: (this will go live at 4pm on 1 June).

Last year’s winner, Eluned Gramich, whose essay Woman Who Brings the Rain: A Memoir of Hokkaido, Japan has just been shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year 2016: The Open University in Wales Creative Non-Fiction Award. Her essay is available as a Kindle ebook (£2.99) and in print in shops throughout Wales and via (£7.99).

New Welsh Review also announced the Best Travel Book Poll shortlist at the event. The shortlist of three titles was voted for by the public from an original longlist of 20 titles selected by co-judges Gwen Davies and Rory MacLean with nominations from the students of the University of South Wales and librarians across Wales.

Losing Israel by Jasmine Donahaye (Seren)

Wildwood: A Journey through Trees by Roger Deakin (Penguin)

A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor (John Murray)

The public will now be able to vote for the winner, which will be revealed on 7 July. For more information visit    #newwelshawards

For images, more details on the Prize, Travel Book Poll and for interview requests please contact Megan Farr on or 07912149249

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So, Ceri and I are selfishly enjoying ourselves very much at the Hay Literary Festival and I wanted to share the festival's press release, so people who haven't heard of it or don't know much about it can find out more, below.  We found that, in addition to the regular festival, they've also put on two more events collectively called "How the Light Gets In," a music event (in its second year) and a philosophy event(in its eighth year). So far we've walked all over, got to talk to Owen Sheers and Chris Keil and Alan Bilton, made it to a few events and bought some books and we saw Tony Robinson ( Black Adder and Time Team ) standing there thinking about what he was going to do next and we (ok, I) mightily refrained from racing over like an idiot squealing "Baldrick!! Baldrick!!!!!" and ruining his day.

Without further ado, Hay's press release:

Imagining the world at Hay Festival 2016

In a year of literary landmarks (Shakespeare, Cervantes, Brontë and Dahl), and on the eve of the EU referendum and US election, Hay Festival 2016 (26 May–5 June) brings Nobel Prize winners, novelists, scientists, global leaders, historians, musicians and comedians together in discussions and celebrations across more than 600 events in Hay-on-Wye, Wales.

The programme, announced today and available in full at , is diverse, pertinent and illuminating, featuring global leaders, thinkers, established talent and rising stars from across disciplines.

Hay Festival Director, Peter Florence, said:

“These are the writers and thinkers and entertainers who thrill us this year. These are the women and men who inform the debate about Europe, who are adventuring in new technologies, and who are broadening our minds; and here are the lovers of language who cheer the celebrations of William Shakespeare, the greatest writer who ever lived – the playwright who understood most about the human heart.”

From stage and screen, Oscar winner Sam Mendes will discuss his film-making; Russell T Davies talks about his latest project alongside actress Maxine Peake , who also appears with Paapa Essiedu to discuss Hamlet; legendary screenwriter Andrew Davies talks about his adaptation of War and Peace ; Jojo Moyes previews the new film adaptation of Me Before You ; the stars of Poldark appear; and actor Brian Blessed , travel legend Michael Palin , and music superstar Tom Jones discuss their careers. Plus Letters Live returns with a cast comprised of Olivia Colman , Tom Hollander , Louise Brealey , Toby Jones , Mark Strong and Kelvin Jones .

William Shakespeare is celebrated across the festival site with events starring leading figures from books, stage and screen. Simon Schama, James Shapiro, Germaine Greer, Gillian Clarke and others discuss his impact, while Howard Jacobson, Jeanette Winterson, and Tracy Chevalier discuss their recent retellings. See #TalkingaboutShakespeare for details of more than 80 events.

The festival’s own commemoration, a special project linked to the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, will be unveiled in a special event strand – Lunatics, Lovers and Poets – led by Salman Rushdie , Kamila Shamsie , Valeria Luiselli and Juan Gabriel Vásquez . Outside the festival site, Hay Festival: Talking About Shakespeare is a digital platform sharing ideas on Shakespeare in this anniversary year, with a wider audience.

Three weeks before the 23 June EU referendum, the festival places a magnifying glass on the main issues, with discussions led by former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown ; former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis ; former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King ; and former advisor to David Cameron, Steve Hilton . As ever, the festival also incorporates a wider global affairs strand, with the US election, Russian resurgence, and the Middle East looming large, led by panellists including: Nobel Literature Laureate Svetlana Alexievich , former deputy head of NATO Richard Shirreff , former head of the CIA and NSA Michael V Hayden , and Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi .

From radiation to ribosomes, a range of prize-winning scientists offers a look at the frontiers of our discovery. Nobel Prize-winning chemist, Venki Ramakrishnan , gives the Royal Society Lecture, on unravelling the ribosome; science writer Kat Arney talks about the language of genes; Hannah Crichtlow explores the depths of the human brain; and Professor Timothy J Jorgensen gives the story of radiation. The first female winner of The Royal Society’s book prize, Gaia Vince , charts our new geological age: the Athropocene; and Marcus du Sautoy discusses the limits of what we can know, in the John Maddox Lecture.

Stars from book and screen celebrate the great outdoors, including Kate Humble , Monty Don and Chris Packham , while the past is revisited in talks from Tom Holland , Max Hastings , Jonathan Dimbleby , Philippe Sands and many more. Meanwhile, business leaders including BP CEO John Browne and household name Emma Bridgewater appear alongside a host of big thinkers including philosopher AC Grayling , mental health campaigner Ruby Wax , journalist Caitlin Moran and Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates .

The backbone of the festival remains a rich picking of discussions around the best new fiction from established names and rising stars, including Salman Rushdie ( Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights ), Edna O’Brien ( The Little Red Chairs ), Fay Weldon ( Before the War ), James Runcie ( Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation ), Joanne Harris ( Different Class ), Rose Tremain ( The Gustav Sonata ), Graham Swift ( Mothering Sunday ), Harry Parker ( Anatomy of a Soldier ), Melvyn Bragg ( Now is the Time ), Thomas Keneally ( Napolean’s Last Island ), Valeria Luiselli ( The Story of My Teeth ), Peter Carey ( Amnesia: A Novel ), Tahmima Anam ( The Bones of Grace ), Mark Haddon ( The Pier Falls ), Jonathan Coe ( Number 11 ), Marina Lewycka ( The Lubetkin Legacy ), James Runcie ( The Grantchester Mysteries ), S J Parris ( Conspiracies ) plus BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, who launches his debut novel Blood and Sand ; and Alain de Botton offers his first novel in 20 years ( The Course of Love ).

A series of unique pairings will also draw crowds, including Irvine Welsh ( The Blade Artist ) in conversation with 2015 Man Booker winner Marlon James ( A Brief History of Seven Killings ), and David Mitchell ( The Bone Clocks ) in conversation with Sjon ( Moonstone, The Boy Who Never Was ).

To balance the serious discussions, a rich strand of comedy and music will once again fill festival tents, with internationally acclaimed comedians taking the stage, including Sarah Millican , Marcus Brigstocke , Dara Ó Briain , Sara Pascoe , Isy Suttie , and the Olivier Award-winning improvised musical Showstoppers , plus music headlined by American singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega ; English singer-songwriters Billy Bragg and Laura Marling ; Scottish superstar K T Tunstall ; Indie rockers Turin Brakes ; and Sengalese sensation Baaba Maal . In a grand finale to our 29th festival, the Welsh legends Bryn Terfel and Rebecca Evans give a concert of solos and duets by Purcell, Mozart, Obradors, Clara Schumann, Finzi, Quilter and Meirion Williams.

A newly named children’s programme – HAYDAYS – offers a range of activities and events for families and young adults led by some of the biggest names in children’s writing including Julia Donaldson , Jacqueline Wilson , Malorie Blackman , Chris Riddell , Michael Morpurgo , Cressida Cowell , and CBBC’s Sam and Mark , plus YA superstars Frances Hardinge , Holly Smale , Juno Dawson , Patrick Ness , and vlogging sensation Caspar Lee , who will discuss the power of social media and his unexpected life at the heart of it.

Meanwhile, the festival opens with two days of free programming for primary and secondary students, funded by the Hay Educational Trust and the Welsh Government, while the new education hub Hay Compass hosts a series of new initiatives including Hay Levels Live – a chance for A Level students to grill the experts on topics from Maths to Shakespeare.

Beyond the main stages is a whole host of activities for all ages to discover and enjoy, from the best local food and drink, creative workshops and artists’ exhibitions, to a blockbuster programme of free BBC events and the opportunity to explore the stunning countryside surrounding the festival site.

For the full line-up, and to book tickets, visit or call the box office on 01497 822 629.

Keep up to date with Hay Festival’s news by signing up to the newsletter here or follow them on Twitter: @HayFestival and Facebook: HayFestival .  

Hay Festival brings writers and readers together to inspire, examine and entertain at its festivals around the world. Nobel Prize-winners and novelists, scientists and politicians, historians and musicians talk with audiences in a dynamic exchange of ideas. Hay Festival’s global conversation shares the latest thinking in the arts and sciences with curious audiences live, in print and digitally.  Hay Festival also runs wide programmes of education work supporting coming generations of writers and culturally hungry audiences of all ages. Join us to imagine the world. 

Acclaimed author, actor and writer Stephen Fry is President of the organisation; Peter Florence is Director; and Caroline Michel , CEO of leading literary and talent agency Peters Fraser and Dunlop, is Chair of the festival board.

Established around a kitchen table in 1987, the organisation now reaches a global audience of thousands every year and continues to grow and innovate, building partnerships and initiatives alongside some of the leading bodies in arts and the media, including global partners the BBC, ACW, TATA, British Council and LSE; friends of Hay Festival the Daily Telegraph, Visit Wales, Baillie Gifford, Oxfam, and Good Energy; and international partners Wales Arts International, AC/E, Embassy of Chile, Embassy of Colombia, and the Embassy of Mexico.

Hay Festival Wales takes place from 26 May–5 June 2016 in the beautiful setting of the Wye Valley. In May 2017, Hay Festival will celebrate its 30th anniversary.

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An updated version of the practical guide to Wenglish, the distinctive dialect of the south Wales valleys has been published this week, which will serve as an important work on a ‘neglected part of Welsh culture’. Published by Y Lolfa in dictionary-format, Wenglish – The Dialect of the South Wales Valleys, combines the practical qualities of a reference book – alphabetical glossary, dialogue examples, grammar, exercises and all – with a general introduction to the social and geographical context of how we speak across the south Wales Valleys. It also gives the perfect introduction to how the dialect developed in the first place, and the part played by the people who speak it and the landscape itself.

However, it’s not just those familiar terms that are explored here. Alongside oddities like “icelider” for a “custard slice” are loans from Welsh like “dirân” for “past its best”, and geographically-isolated strange pronunciations such as “hool” for “whole”. Fans of writer Rachel Trezise’s literary codifications of Valleys’ underlife speech will also be happy to discover her coining of “gorrw”, “gerrin!” and “egsackly” have been approved by linguistic specialists.

Literary critic Meic Stephens praised the volume, citing it as ‘A timely and useful book that will, I hope, give back to the Valleys people some of the confidence and pride they so badly need’.

Liz Jones of Planet magazine added, ‘This is an important and long overdue work on a neglected part of Welsh culture.’

Author Robert Lewis is an impressive linguist, fluent in a dozen languages and dialects, including Afrikaans, Breton and Urdu. He said,

‘I was born and raised in the Swansea Valley and grew up hearing western forms of Wenglish and Gwenhwyseg, the south-eastern dialect of Welsh.’

‘Writing this book has let me combine my personal background with an academic interest in how people speak. Wenglish has a lot of playful touches including a Wenglish version of Goldilocks!’ he added.

Robert studied Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge, where he became particularly interested in dialects. He worked most recently as Head of Research at Visit Wales.

"Wenglish – The Dialect of the South Wales Valleys is out now (£9.99, Y Lolfa).

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