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Tony Kendrew is a poet of Welsh ancestry who has made his home in Northern California. In 2014 he completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Wales, Trinity St. David, the third oldest institute of higher education in Britain - after Oxford and Cambridge. He continues his connection with Wales as one of the editors of The Lampeter Review. AmeriCymru spoke to Tony about his work and future plans. Visit Tony Kendrew's website here


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turningpoint.jpg AmeriCymru: The poems of your new poetry collection, Turning , focus on the themes of migration and identity. What inspired this collection?

Tony: My mother was Welsh and went to China as a teacher in her late twenties. There she met and married my English father. So not only did I have to figure out where I came from, but my options were on the other side of the world!

The themes of movement and identity have concerned me all my life, and my year at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, brought them into focus like never before. So I decided to write as my MA dissertation a series of poems that reflect on the urge to migrate and explore, how that urge was expressed in my own family and life, and how it relates to a sense of place and belonging. There are twenty-two poems, and they take two directions, one towards the history of the Welsh side of my family, arranged chronologically, the other towards the nature of nationality and diaspora in general.

A number of poems tell the stories of particular members of the Welsh side of my family, trying to capture some of the characteristics of Welshness with illustrations of the delights and tragedies of family and emigration. I also touch on the influence of my cultural and genetic heritage on my own life and work.

And though the Welsh word hiraeth does not appear in these English language poems, we could say that the collection is really an exploration of hiraeth in poetic form.

AmeriCymru: Your earlier collection, Feathers Scattered in the Wind draws together reflections on the people and places of Northern California and Wales. Care to introduce that book for our readers?

Tony: I would love to. I’ve been living in Northern California since the 80's. Each time I moved it was to a more remote and beautiful place, until fifteen years ago I found the valley I now call home. All of the places I lived inspired what I suppose we could call nature poetry, though the poems aren’t just descriptive, because I always seem to find a human story hidden in the rivers and forests and deserts. And I don’t mean that my poems tell the story of the people living in those places, but that the places themselves give rise to reflections about what it is to be human. We have been living on earth for a very long time, and I think the landscape is intimately connected with our thoughts and feelings. To give an obvious example, the river: constant but changeable, deep or bickering, “wider than a mile,” you can’t push it, and of course “you can’t step into the same river twice.” And it isn’t just landscape either: sudden encounters with plants and wildlife bring insights of their own. Our minds have been sculpted by nature.

About half the poems in 'Feathers Scattered in the Wind' were written in California. The other half come from Wales. They were my responses to my year living and learning and rambling in West Wales, on the Coastal Path, in the ruins of Strata Florida or the beaches of Ceredigion.

I am, I suppose most interested in the communication of awe. The collection has a number of poems that try to communicate that response to beauty and the ineffable, whether it’s nature, or the effect of a painting on the viewer or a piece of music on the listener.

AmeriCymru: What can you tell us about your experience studying Creative Writing at the University of Wales?

Tony: Well, it was a wonderful experience! I fell into it by a stroke of serendipity, and knew immediately that the teaching style and the faculty at Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, were going to suit me just fine. The personal attention and intimacy of this small school made me feel cared for, and the sessions with poet Menna Elfyn and dramatist Dic Edwards, and regular visits from Wales’ best writers, meant that everything I wrote went under the microscope. Just what I needed! It was a lot of work, but that‘s exactly what I was there for.

AmeriCymru: Care to tell us a little about 'Seven Views of the South Fork River’?

Tony: The South Fork of the Trinity River runs past the bottom of my property and has been my muse for the last fifteen years. It’s designation as a wild and scenic river means it goes up when it rains and goes down when it doesn’t – something that dams and reservoirs have hidden from the experience of a large part of the population. It is an awesome sight to watch the river rise and spread out across the valley. Some years ago I decided to sing the river’s praises with a group of poems describing places along its course. This became 'Seven Views of the South Fork River', which is embedded in the printed collection 'Feathers Scattered in the Wind'. The poems talk about the river in a blatantly metaphorical way!

AmeriCymru: What's next for Tony Kendrew?

Tony: I am currently on the editorial board of The Lampeter Review, the online magazine of the University of Wales Trinity St. David's Creative Writing Centre. It’s terrific to be at the receiving end of great writing and to be in touch with the other editors on the production of the magazine. I also write a regular piece for the magazine, a sort of letter from America, that gives a personal view of the issue’s theme or a literary topic that’s caught my eye.

I have enjoyed producing CDs of my poems and love to hear writers reading their work, but many people prefer to snuggle down with a book rather than hear poems and prose read out loud. So my next project is a book of short stories.

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the readers and members of Americymru?

Tony: I’m delighted to be able to meet with other Welsh Americans via Americymru. As a writer I’ve been a bit of a hermit, so it’s heartening to see these connections being made through that difficult to define something that is our shared Welshness. Cymru am Byth.


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Dead Method returns with their hotly anticipated new track Babylon, an assertive alternative pop anthem for outcasts and outsiders searching for their tribe. Taking influence from PC Music without falling back on cliche, the track was produced by Minas who has worked with Dan Betteridge, Tierny & Local to name a few.
The track is taken from Dead Method’s upcoming debut album Queer Genesis, which will release in September, 2020. The album is a celebration of LGBTQ+ culture and middle finger to oppression.

They say: “Babylon depicts a great exodus of queer people who have fled their home to find solace and family elsewhere. Drawing from my experience with a previous lover who was flown back to his home country when his family found out he was bisexual only to return as a “heterosexual” with an arranged marriage.

It was also influenced by the experiences of several of my friends who were unable to return to their home countries as they would not be safe. It’s about finding your true family and how members of the LGBTQ+ community get to pick their family despite our troubled circumstances.

Babylon is self-acceptance and finding a home outside of what society told you the concept of home is.” Babylon will be released on all digital stores on 26/06/2020  

For more information on Dead Method:  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeadMethodUk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeadMethod/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deadmethod/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3B3cVlhfVXbKGC5YXlmUCn

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Conformist
 is back with a new remix of  Radio Europa' s ' Something Beautiful'  featuring vocals by  Gwenllian Anthony  of Adwaith. Out on 31st of July it's the first new material from Conformist this year and a teaser of more to come with his forthcoming third album slated for release in late 2020.


Conformist is the moniker of Cardiff's Michael Simmons, he takes Radio Europa's 'Something Beautiful' from last year's acclaimed " Community is Revolution " album and gave it fresh spin, with an intricate palette of synths, strings, cut up vocal samples and spluttering beats, he shows off his inventive talent to craft insidious sound experiences.

Conformist says:

" Community Is Revolution" by Radio Europa was one of my go-to albums from last year, its themes and the narratives referenced within the album spoke volumes to myself and continue to do so as we meander through these dark times, so when the opportunity to remix a track from this album came up i was all over it. Plus getting the opportunity to work on Gwenllians' excellent vocal contribution was too good an opportunity to pass on; Adwaith are, simply put, the best Welsh band in years. Hopefully this release is a catalyst for more Conformist releases, beginning with album number three in the Autumn."

Radio Europa say:

" Something Beautiful" was the moment that our album Community is Revolution really came together. Myself, Steve, Alec, Whetman and Gwenllian were really proud of the finished track so when Conformist asked if he could remix it we were over the moon as we have been fans of his for a while and it was nice to have another set of artistic Welsh ears throw their own spin on it. The finished remix is everything we could have wished for and more. Michael has taken what was ours and made it his which is exactly as it should be. Thank you Michael #CommunityIsRevolution."



Conformist is one of the most respected names on the Electronic music scene in Wales, with early demos immediately catching the attention and of Steve Lamacq, Huw Stephens, John Kennedy and Eddy Temple Morris.

Subsequent Conformist albums " Paid To Fake It"  (2013) and " Lifestyle Bible " (2016) earned lavish praise:
"Paid To Fake It" is the sort of record that will take your breath away...bloody brilliant"  The 405


" A musically kaleidoscopic head f*** ...brilliant" Louder Than War



" a head-spinning deluge of audacious beats and samples...staggering"  Wales Online

Conformists' production work is distinguished and full of unique character; staying leftfield but fresh and ahead of others; meticulous, dense and layered, revealing hidden detail with every listen - taking inspiration from  Public Enemy 's Bomb Squad and cut n' paste pioneers  Coldcut, Steinski  and  The Dust Brothers  to name a few.

Most recently Conformists' own tracks have been reinterpreted by key figures in the underground Electronic music scene such as  Man Without Country, Mark Pistel  of  Consolidated, Kayla Painter, Odonis Odonis  &  H O R S E S. 

Conformist will return later in 2020 with his eagerly anticipated third full length album.

https://wormholeworld.bandcamp.com/album/community-is-revolution
https://www.libertinorecords.com/adwaith
www.conformistmusic.com



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Lockdown closes Dylan's Birthplace

Along with so many other businesses the Birthplace closed in March and we cannot see it fully opening for some considerable time. We still have bills to pay and precious little support from the government (When is a museum not a museum? Well, according to the Arts Council (of England) who decide these things it's when it is not a charity or run by a local authority!)

"Do not go gentle" we said as we developed our plans to survive lockdown and come out the other side with a bright and vibrant Thomas family home. We don't expect handouts or pay crazy interest rates to invisible lenders. Our plan is simple and has evolved from a number of other successful projects from the hospitality and tourism sectors. We have come up with a plan which helps us through the lean period and gives you a great deal to help save the Birthplace for future generations.

We are turning to crowdfunding and have two amazing products on offer.

Pay it Forward vouchers will allow you to buy a voucher which can be used for any product on offer at the Birthplace at a 20% discount. So, if you purchase a £100 voucher it will be worth £120. Don't worry how long the lockdown will last as it will be valid for five years. They also can make great birthday or Christmas presents.

Unique Experiences and Rewards We have to thank our great artists and performers for helping us develop the experiences. You could choose to have a handwritten poem from one of the many poets who have performed at the Birthplace, buy a limited edition DVD of performances at the house or have your own personal house tour. 

There is lots more information on the crowdfunding page www.crowdfunder.co.uk/dylan so why not pop along and have a look.

Thank you for reading our appeal and thank you in anticipation for your support - it will help us survive, help the Dylan community  and give you a great deal. We look forward to seeing you very soon.

Keep safe

Geoff and Sarah Haden, the staff, volunteers and performers at the Birthplace.


 
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10th June 1921 saw the formation of what is now Cwmbach Male Choir..... HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US !!!!!!

Although we haven't been able to meet we've put together this short special video to celebrate. Using the wonders of Whats App and technical wizadry of Nathan Jones of nathanjonesmusic.co.uk we feel this is a suitable tribute.



We share our birthday with someone else that is 99 today - can you guess who ? Watch till the end to find out.....

Many thanks to our Chairman Brian Williams for the intro, our MD Mike Thomas and accompanist Jayne Thomas..... however special thanks to the choristers who donned uniform and took part ... if you'd told them 3 months ago that they would be filming themselves on smart phones and uploading video via the internet they would have laughed you out of town.... but they did it.... well done boys !!

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unnamed.jpg The powerful rural stories of the semi-legendary people who lived in the ancient village of Tremeirchion and the unorthodox community of Sodom in the Clwydian Range of Denbighshire are told for the first time in  On a Dark Night with Enough Wind  (Y Lolfa). The author, Lilla Pennant – part English, part Welsh – tells her story which is connected to our rural past with its drama, comedies and tragedies.  

“From my early childhood I was fascinated by the self-sufficiency and wisdom of the people who lived ‘on the mountain’ near my childhood home. I wanted to know their story. Over the years that I interviewed people and drafted this book I learned about a whole hidden way of life. I acquired a huge respect for the people of the hilltops, their courage, ingenuity and wit,” said Lilla Pennant.  

The book is a snapshot of a traditional way of living, with the oral histories collected by the author in the 1980s, from the community in which she grew up. At the time, one particular family lived in a farmhouse that showed barely any trace of the twentieth century. Pennant tells the story of the people who lived in the Welsh hills, who were neither farmers, nor employees, but lived by their wits on dark winter nights with a steady wind.  

“I didn’t intend to write this book. I set out to write about the rich history from this part of the Vale of Clwyd, but I am not a historian, and it was not going well. I started writing from the oral history that I had collected, and the book took off! Since writing this book in the 1980s, genetic research has found that descendants of the earliest surviving race in all the British Isles were to be found not in Scotland or Ireland, but in North Wales, or the mountainous world of North-West Wales to be precise,” said Lilla Pennant.  

Reviewers have described  On a Dark Night with Enough Wind  as:  

“Lilla Pennant has created an important piece of work documenting the stories of a life in Tremeirchion and Sodom by seeking out and listening to the oral stories of people living on the mountain and then committing the stories to paper for future generations to read.” Roy Hogben  

“The book had me gripped from beginning to end. It is an interesting mix of a mystery story that turns into a elegy for a lost way of life. Above all I was moved by her obvious love for the people she writes about and her desire to make sure that their stories are not lost.” Jessica Starmer  

Lilla Pennant grew up in Wales. She has worked as a freelance writer in London and New York. She has written two small books on remarkable civilian stories from both world wars. She has also worked in the field of family violence and published professional articles in this field.  Lilla Pennant currently lives in the United States.  

On a Dark Night with Enough Wind  by Lilla Pennant (£7.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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STOP PRESS: The competition is open for voting till June but the outstanding quality of Nichola's work has already been recognised with the award of the 'Elizabeth Hosking Prize For Watercolor'. We all wish Nichola the best of luck next month. VOTE HERE

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98380482_275547447155522_1847212270904410112_n 1.jpg AmeriCymru:  Hi Nichola, and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. What can you tell us about your entry to the 2020 Wildlife Artist of the Year competition?

Nichola: Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to share my work with your members and communicate. 

My Tansy Beetle, watercolour has been shortlisted for Wildlife Artist of the Year 2020. My work is one of 159 artworks selected from an incredible 1,200 entries from across the world.

It really is a huge honour to be shortlisted by this competition. Through art, we can raise awareness and support wildlife conservation.  This exhibition is usually held in Mall galleries London but due to the pandemic is now a live online exhibition. You can view my work here:

https://davidshepherd.org/wildlife-art/artwork/tansy-beetle/

My work is featured in the category Facing Extinction. This category invites artists to celebrate these vulnerable species, capturing their behaviour and importance in striking imagery. They may be gone tomorrow if we do not act today.

AmeriCymru:  In 2005, you became a visiting artist for WNO. What does this entail? Where can people see samples of your work online?

Nichola:  I observe and draw the rehearsals and performances on stage.  For over ten years, I’ve been documenting a visual history of Welsh National Opera through the medium of drawing alongside my sister Sarah Hope, who is also a professional fine artist. Our work is held in public and private collections across Europe, Australia and the USA

Working from live performance requires a responsive gaze and the ability to capture movement and emotion with immediacy and confidence. Watercolour allows me to work with colour in a very fluid way and this medium offers up unique qualities.

I’ve been fortunate to draw two productions at Lyric Opera, Chicago. It was an amazing experience and I fell in love with the city, the  friendly people and crazy weather!

My work can be viewed on www.nicholahope.com or on social media - Instagram and Facebook  @thedrawingeye 

AmeriCymru:  In 2019 you were invited to do a drawing demonstration in the galleries of the National Museum of Wales for the public event 'After Dark'. Care to tell us more about this experience?

Nichola:  I began drawing natural history specimens at National Museum Wales in 2019. I’m currently interested in shorebirds connected to Wales.  We have a diverse range of habitats that are important for birds. Some, such as the seabird colonies of Anglesey and Pembrokeshire, have probably been that way for thousands of years. 

I was invited to do a drawing demonstration at After Dark, an event held by National Museum Wales in Cardiff. The museum was opened up in the evening and was attended by a thousand members of the public. 

The museum’s taxidermy collection was used as an inspiration for drawing. I chose to draw a grey heron in ink and wash. I hope that this inspired people to look closely and respond creatively to the wonderful wildlife we have.

AmeriCymru:  Your work is clearly inspired by the animal world. What can you tell us about your 2019 exhibition - 'London Rats' - at the Workers Galley in Porth?

Nichola:  The Workers gallery is located in the little village of Porth, South Wales. Three of my works from a series called London Rats were selected for the exhibition Drawn to Life. This aligned with the Big Draw festival 2019. Over 25 countries including Wales participate in this worldwide campaign each year.

London Rats is inspired by the role of rats as Other in folklore and history. Rats are hugely symbolic. Interestingly it’s year of the rat!

AmeriCymru:  What's next for Nichola Hope? Any new exhibitions or events?

Nichola:  My exhibition of opera paintings and drawings at the Pierhead Building, Senedd Welsh Assembly was due to open in May 2020 but has been postponed due to the pandemic. I’m looking forward to rescheduling the show for a future date!

I’ll be submitting a sketchbook to the Brooklyn Art Library, NYC later this year and that will be part of a touring exhibition and will be digitized.

AmeriCymru:  Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?

Nichola:  I admire how AmeriCymru raises Wales’ cultural profile to American audiences and  I’d love to see more cross Atlantic artistic collaborations between Welsh  and American artists in the future. 



You can vote for Nichola Hope for the People’s choice award here: Wildlife Artist of the Year 2020

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        Artwork

       TITLE: TANSY BEETLE
       ARTIST: NICHOLA HOPE
       ARTWORK CATEGORY: 
       FACING EXTINCTION
       MEDIUM: WATERCOLOUR
       ARTWORK SIZE (CM): 38 X 46
 

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Idris Speaks - A Poem by John Good

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Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments
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