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AmeriCymru is pleased to announce the availability of a small number of first edition hardback copies of 'John Jenkins: The Reluctant Revolutionary?' by Dr Wyn Thomas. The hardback first edition is now out of print. Originally priced at $34.00 this important & historic biography can be yours for only $23.99 including shipping and handling (offer applies in U.S. only). New, unread and unmarked but slightly damaged with bumped corners. 

"The mastermind of a Welsh bombing campaign in the 1960s claims that the terrorist group he led could have killed Prince Charles during his Investiture as Prince of Wales fifty years ago."


unnamed.jpg The mastermind of a Welsh bombing campaign in the 1960s claims that the terrorist group he led could have killed Prince Charles during his Investiture as Prince of Wales fifty years ago. 

John Barnard Jenkins plotted a long and audacious bombing campaign with the Welsh nationalist group  Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru  (the ‘Movement to Defend Wales’ – generally known as MAC) that caused damage to water pipes and government buildings throughout Wales from 1963 to 1969. In a new biography of Jenkins, he claims that they could have killed Prince Charles in 1969. He says in the book, published exactly fifty years since the Investiture, “We could have killed him... For one thing, I was a sergeant in the British Army’s Dental Corps, and was on duty in Caernarfon that day. I could have carried a rifle and I could have shot him there and then if I wanted. Furthermore, if I’d said ‘Right, I want a couple of people   who are prepared to do something and not come back from it’, I know at least two who would have come forward and volunteered. I’m talking about a suicide operation.” 

During the period leading up to the investiture many targets were bombed, with one device killing two of the bombers themselves in Abergele. Another bomb injured a child, though Jenkins insists their intention had been only to attack infrastructure and not to injure anyone. 

The campaign was undertaken in the belief that the political voice of Wales was being ignored. There had been mass protest in Wales earlier in the decade about the plan to evict the Welsh-speaking community of the Tryweryn Valleyso as to turn it into a reservoir to supply water to England. Despite the fact that not one Welsh MP voted in support of the Bill, it was passed in Parliament and the project was allowed to go ahead. In 1966, a huge spoil tip collapsed onto the village primary school in Aberfan, killing 124 people, most of them children. Although the National Coal Board had been warned of the danger beforehand and was found responsible for the disaster by the ensuing inquiry, it was not prosecuted or   fined. John Jenkins says that both incidents influenced MAC’s campaign. 

John Jenkins: The Reluctant Revolutionary?  by historian Dr Wyn Thomas reveals the international interest in the Welsh bombing campaign, with offers of help coming from Libya and Communist East Germany. John Jenkins also discusses how his campaign influenced the IRA, with their cell system based on the one he devised for MAC. 

The author, Wyn Thomas, said: “What John Barnard Jenkins did in spearheading  Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru ’s bombing campaign in Wales and England during the 1960s is unparalleled in Welsh if not British history.”

Since the group’s bombing campaign ended with John Jenkins’ arrest in 1969, questions have been asked about what motivated MAC’s formidable leader and strategist’s course of action. Wyn Thomas’ authorised biography provides the answers, throwing light on this complex and hitherto guarded individual. As the group’s bombing campaign intensified, the authorities were desperate to locate MAC - and its anonymous controller. But unknown to all but the smallest band of associates, John Jenkins was in fact hiding in plain sight, as a serving member of Her Majesty’s Forces. The story of John Jenkins and MAC has been engulfed in a fog of speculation, innuendo and rumour, but for the first time, with the publication of Thomas’ biography, the true extent of the threat posed by the group is shockingly revealed. 

This meticulously researched appraisal has been written on the back of fifteen years of interviews conducted by Thomas with John Jenkins, and – among others – former police officers and members of MAC and their families. The result is monumental: the amount of fresh information surrounding the narrative is astonishing, and each disclosed detail offers a fascinating insight into the shadowy world of MAC and its brilliant, if flawed, organiser. It is not just a study of one man, but also an absorbing social history which considers the political and cultural background to, and impact of, MAC’s campaign. The extraordinary life of John Barnard Jenkins is as complicated as the campaign of militant activism he so effectively led. The title of the biography is a question:  John Jenkins: The Reluctant Revolutionary? This is based on the emotional turmoil that Jenkins apparently experienced when increasingly compelled to orchestrate a campaign of militant activism in the name of Welsh political freedom. Other observers maintain, however, that far from being resistant and ultimately resigned to his role of leading MAC, John Jenkins relished the challenge and the task of providing a worthy opposition to the British state.

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From the Wikipedia - Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru :- "Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (Welsh: [ˈmɨːdjad amˈðiːfɨn ˈkəmrɨ], Movement for the Defence of Wales), abbreviated as MAC, was a paramilitary Welsh nationalist organisation, which was responsible for a number of bombing incidents between 1963 and 1969. The group's activities primarily targeted infrastructure carrying water to the English city of Liverpool.

MAC was initially set up in response to the flooding of the Afon Tryweryn valley and the flooding of the village of Capel Celyn to provide water for Liverpool. Its founders were Owain Williams, John Albert Jones and Emyr Llewelyn Jones. On 10 February 1963 a transformer at the dam construction site was blown up by three men, of whom one, Emyr Llywelyn Jones, was identified, convicted and sentenced to one year imprisonment. MAC blew up an electricity pylon at Gellilydan on the day of his conviction. This led to the arrest and conviction of Owain Williams and John Albert Jones. READ MORE HERE


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teach your cat welsh.jpg Teach Your Cat Welsh has been developed due to the huge popularity of the dog version, as well as numerous requests by cat-lovers who are learning Welsh!

“The popularity of the series has been amazing! I was thrilled when Teach Your Dog Welsh was re-printed for the first time – but I’m amazed that it’s been reprinted three more times since! A lot of cat lovers approached me personally or contacted me over social media asking if there’d be a cat version of the book,” says author and illustrator Anne Cakebread.

The mischievous black cat in the book, who – unlike the very obedient dog in Teach Your Dog Welsh – often ignores instructions, has been inspired by two cats: one being Chanel, the cat of Anne Cakebread’s two nieces. Mari and Elin are thrilled to have Chanel in a book.

“Chanel made a lovely model as she’s nice and plump and full of character,” said Anne Cakebread. “The other cat that inspired the personality is the local black tom cat with yellow eyes who prowls and hunts around the old Abbey ruins, and is a bit of a legend here in St Dogmaels. He’s a seriously tough character!”

Originally from Cardiff, Anne and her partner moved to St Dogmaels on the west Wales coast. She wanted to improve her Welsh as it was important to her to become part of the lively Welsh-speaking community in the area.

“I first had to unlearn the Welsh I'd been taught in school as it's nothing like the Welsh people speak here. That's why I've made the expressions in the book colloquial, as a large part of learning is listening to what people say around you.”

The original book was inspired by Frieda, a rescue whippet, who only understood Welsh commands when she was first homed with Anne and her partner. Slowly, whilst dealing with Frieda, Anne realised that she was overcoming her nerves about speaking Welsh aloud by talking to the dog, and her Welsh was improving as a result – this gave her the idea of creating a book to help other would-be learners whilst also using her skills as an illustrator.

Summoning up the confidence to use a language you’re learning can be daunting at first, and a number of books are available to help with vocabulary and pronunciation, but the light hearted context and the beautiful illustrations mean that this book is a bit out of the ordinary. Lefi Gruffudd from Y Lolfa says:

“This book is both a practical and a fun way to practise Welsh, and hopefully it will be a useful resource to Welsh learners.”

Carolyn Hodges, Head of English Publishing at Y Lolfa, who developed language-teaching materials for Oxford University Press for many years, said: “Some people have a bad experience of learning Welsh at school and that puts them off trying again as adults. One of the key factors in motivating someone to start learning and using a new language is to make it enjoyable. Teach Your Cat Welsh really brings the language to life and makes it fun – it’s a really positive (re)introduction to this wonderful language.”

“It was particularly fun for me to edit the book as I started learning Welsh on my own in Oxford, where the only ‘person’ I had to practise on was my cat! This book would have been really useful!”

There are plans to expand the Teach Your Cat Welsh and Teach Your Dog Welsh series to include translations into other minority languages including Cornish and Irish. Teach Your Dog Māori is already available as an e-book, and there will be a special travel edition teaching Japanese to coincide with the Rugby World Cup in the autumn.

Anne Cakebread is a freelance illustrator with over 20 years’ experience in publishing and TV, including cover art and illustrations for numerous books, magazines and adverts. She also illustrated sets and props for Boomerang on S4C’s award-winning ABC. She grew up and went to school in Radyr, Cardiff and now lives with her partner, two whippets and lurcher in St Dogmaels, where she runs a B&B Oriel Milgi.

Teach Your Cat Welsh by Anne Cakebread is available now (£4.99, Y Lolfa).

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tt0MiJw.jpeg AmeriCymru: Hi John and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Care to tell us a little about your new (forthcoming) single 'There's a hole in my heart (an area the size of Wales)'?

John: Hey, its what I thought was a breakup song, but it turns out that the main character is speaking from the grave, but it is still probably a break up song.

A meriCymru: Will there be a new album forthcoming soon?

John: Hopefully, yes. Though as much as I love the form I have been told that it isn't the best vehicle to promote an artist work anymore.

AmeriCymru: We learn from a recent press release that your 'most recent album “The Fen Sessions” was written and released over a weekend and then deleted on the Monday.' Why? Are there any plans to resurrect it?

John: It was a conceptual idea that I had. I wanted to see how many people pay attention to my social media, as that was the main vehicle of promotion prior to and during the sessions. I also like to challenge the creative process and force myself into producing material. I think consumers of music expect the music always to be available and to be free, so I was questioning this concept. One thing I didn't expect to come from the sessions was that many of the people who downloaded the songs actually ended up paying for them. I think this was because they had invested in the process, some of them followed it throughout the weekend, and maybe limiting the release availability gave the album some monetary value.

AmeriCymru: After your 2014 album 'The Death of.....', John Mouse went away for a while. Why was this and why did he return?

John: I had had enough about not reaching a larger audience. I sort of gave up. Now, I'm liberated by this fact and so do what I want knowing that no-one really cares.

AmeriCymru: The track 'Happy I am Not' from 'The Death of John Mouse' seems to sum up the album and is a personal favourite of mine. Care to tell us a little more about the song?

John: That is an oldie! Right, so I mashed up Heaven Knows I'm miserable now, by the Smiths, Lets move to the country, by Smog and Considering a move to Memphis by The Colourblind James Experience. Just have a listen to those three songs and you'll understand Unhappy a little more.

AmeriCymru: Another intriguing track from 'Death of....' is 'Ilka Moor'. Punk versions of old standards are not unheard of, 'The Dickies', 'Banana Splits' and 'Eve of Destruction' spring to mind, but why 'Ilka Moor'?

John: I had this old folk song book and the lyrics for Ilka Moor really stood out. It's so bizzare, eating your mate, turns out it's about sexual disease though.

AmeriCymru: What is your creative process? Do your lyrics simply come to you fully formed or do you work for days/weeks carefully polishing them to perfection?

John: I do a lot of pre-editing, inhaling, before I write the words. I don't really change them much, sometimes move some sentences around so that they rhyme or that the words rhythmically fit.

AmeriCymru: How would you caharacterize your writing and recording process in general? How closely do you collaborate with the other musicians on arrangements etc?

John: It just depends. Sometimes I write by myself and tell people I work with what I'd like to achieve on the instruments I can't play. Sometimes I just let them write the song, for example this new one is written entirely by Phil.

AmeriCymru: What music are you currently listening to? Are there any artists you would claim as an inspiration?

John: New music that I am listening to include Fontains DC, John Maus (I know), Yak, Beak, King Gizzard and the Lizzard Wizzard, but I'll always go back to albums by Bill Callahan and anything Arab Strap related.

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

John: Thanks for reading, and please do spread the word.

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keys.jpg ‘There you will find them, tucked away in between The Stooges ‘Fun House’ and John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band the KEYS, the band you never knew you needed until they changed your life.

Over four Albums, Eps and countless Singles during this millennium the KEYS have become a mythical presence on the Welsh musical landscape. The timeless quality of the band’s music, touches on the wide eyed wonder and boundless possibilities of the sixties pop song, West Coast harmonies, Motown backbeat and the aggression of post 1968 proto-punk, sets them apart as true believers in the communion of Rock and Roll. KEYS are very much a band for the here and now, shaping music from the moon dust of the past into a re-imagined future that is all theirs for the taking.’ – Libertino Records ‘Black and White’ is the confident and bold return of the KEYS. The single was recorded during the productive two days session for the band’s new album in Miner’s Welfare club, lost in the Neath Valley.

Matt Evens, the band’s singer and songwriter, explains the background and the writing process of ‘Black and White’: “I wrote it while playing the drums on my own one morning. I was trying to write a modern-day nursery rhyme so it’s kept really simple. Then it went through the KEYS machine and came out all reverb guitars and maracas. It starts off Scout Niblett and ends up all Stooges with some Ron Asheton-style wah-wah thrown into the mix. It’s still a very sparse arrangement though which is the point. The lyric comes from something a photographer said to us once “Don’t worry, they’ll look alright in Black and White”; Gwion (Lead Guitar) used to quote it all the time in a jokey way so it ended up finding a melody.”

Fe wnewch chi ffeindio’r KEYS, rhwng The Stooges ‘Fun House’ a John Lennon/ Plastic Ono Band - KEYS, y band sydd ei angen ar bawb.

Ers rhyddhau pedair albym, sawl EP a sawl sengl yn ystod y mileniwm diwetha, mae’r KEYS wedi bod yn bresenoldeb chwedlonol yn nhirwedd cerddorol Cymru. Mae ansawdd bytholwyrdd cerddoriaeth y band yn cyffwrdd â rhyfeddod diderfyn caneuon pop y chwedegau, harmonïau West Coast a Motown backbeat gydag ymosodiad porto-pync 1968, sy’n eu gosod arwahan fel credinwyr cryf Rock n Roll. Mae’r KEYS yn fand cyfoes, yn siapio cerddoriaeth o lwch lleuad y gorffennol i ddyfodol dychmygus, disglair.

Mae’r KEYS yn ôl gyda’r sengl hyderus a chadarn ‘Black and White’. Recordiwyd y sengl yn Miner's Welfare Club, Cwm Nêdd yn ystod sesiwn dau ddiwrnod o recordio eu halbym newydd. Esbonia Matt Evans, canwr a chyfansoddwr y band, y stori sy’n perthyn i ‘Black and White’:

“Ysgrifennais y gân wrth chwarae’r drymiau ar ben fy hun un bore. Fe driais i ysgrifennu hwiangerdd fodern, felly cadwyd y gân yn syml. Yna, aeth y gân trwy beiriant KEYS ac allan daeth reverb gitars a maracas.

Scout Niblett yw’r dechrau a'r Stooges yw’r diwedd gyda ychydig o steil Ron Asheton-wah-wah-aidd wedi’i daflu i’r gymysgedd. Mae’r geiriau yn dod o rhywbeth ddywedodd ffotograffydd wrthon ni unwaith “Peidiwch â phoeni, bydd e’n edrych yn iawn mewn du a gwyn”; Roedd Gwion (gitar flaen) yn arfer dyfynnu’r linell drwy’r amser mewn ffordd bryfoclyd, felly roedd rhaid rhoi’r dyfyniad hwn i mewn i’r gân.”

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nafowlogo.jpg Hold your beer… are you thinking about The North American Festival of Wales in Milwaukee later this year (Aug. 29 - Sept. 1)? Then how about entering one of our Eisteddfod competitions!

Once again, we have seven different competitions in singing or poetic recitation - suiting all ages and different levels of proficiency in Welsh (from zero to “lots”!) Singers can join our Semi-Professional competition to win a generous cash scholarship for travel to compete at next year's National Eisteddfod of Wales (Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru) in Tregaron (Ceredigion). And as an eighth stage competition… we’re reintroducing Instrumental Solo, open to unaccompanied soloists on any musical instrument. All stage competitions are on Fri. and Sat., Aug. 30 and 31, and are time-limited to help you enjoy everything else at the Festival!

Also, the new Visual Arts Competition is open to entrants submitting visual artistic submissions (painting, sketch, sculpture, etc.) based on a Welsh theme, for popular adjudication at the Festival (setup is Fri., Aug. 30 and viewing is that day and Sat., Aug. 31).

Finally, the new Hymn Composition Competition in honor of Daniel Protheroe, with a single grand prize, invites the creation of an original hymn set to the meter used by Protheroe in his well-known “Milwaukee”.

Go to the link shown here for information and guidelines on all of our competitions! You will also find there our new online entry form for the stage competitions and Visual Arts (deadline Aug. 20, 2019). (For Hymn Composition, see the guidelines at the link for further information on entering; deadline July 1, 2019.)

Contact the Eisteddfod Committee with any questions ( ), and we’ll see you – or your creative work - soon in Milwaukee!

(NAFOW Eisteddfod link: competition.html )

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that would be telyn.jpg In the summer of 2012 musician Delyth Jenkins walked the 186 miles of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path over a period of 17 days. With her she carried her Welsh harp and hoped to give a series of impromptu path-side concerts. That Would Be Telyn (Y Lolfa) is an inspiring account of her adventures and the people she met and played for along the way.

Delyth set out to challenge herself both physically and creatively and combined three things that she loved: walking, playing the harp and the Pembrokeshire coast.

“The walk itself was a creative process. I had no idea when I started the walk that I would end up writing a book. I have also composed new music inspired by the walk – one of the pieces, Cofio , is on DnA [her instrumental duo with daughter Angharad]’s album Llinyn Aur ,” said the Delyth, adding:

“People seemed genuinely moved to hear my music. A couple from Spain felt that my music had magically  managed to dispel the mist and bring out the sun. I played ‘Happy Birthday’ to someone who was absolutely delighted to be able to celebrate his birthday with the expected song but in the most unexpected of locations!”.

That Would Be Telyn   is an account of the journey, but also a memoir. As she walked, she thought and remembered and the text is interwoven with autobiographical flashbacks including memories of her childhood, her life with her late former husband, the poet Nigel Jenkins, and her career in the world of theatre and Welsh traditional music. The book also includes a hitherto unpublished poem by Adrian Mitchell.

“What I discovered was that my music was not merely a form of expressing myself, but it also gave me the extraordinary privilege of having an insight into other people’s thoughts and emotions, and brought home to me that music is not just about the performer but just as much about the audience,” said Delyth of her experience.

Since completing the walk, Delyth has given several performances about the journey, including a show in collaboration with the poet Emily Hinshelwood called Salt On Our Boots . The overwhelming response from audiences has been that they would like to read about what was described during performances.

“I realised with some force that I don’t want to let life pass me by, and I am keen to take on more physical and creative challenges whilst there is still time. But probably my main reason for writing the book was that I wanted to write it. I felt very much that I had a story to tell, which I wanted to share,” says Delyth.  

That Would Be Telyn has received high praise:

“A musician’s miniature odyssey, full of epiphanies, gentle meetings and haunting personal reflections.” - Stevie Davies  

“Delyth writes just as she lives and plays music: with honesty, humour and a warm curiosity in other people and in the ancient land she travels through.” - Andrew Green  

“Her descriptions lead the reader to wish they’d been there – had chanced upon this wandering minstrel and heard her play the Telyn while the waves crashed far below and the seagulls swooped overhead.” - Jo Mazelis.

Delyth Jenkins was born in Oswestry. She studied at University College, Swansea and has lived in the city ever since. It was here, in her early twenties, that she started learning Welsh and the harp. She started her career with the Swansea-based folk band Cromlech, and then went on to form the pioneering instrumental trio Aberjaber. She has made many albums both as a member of groups and as a soloist. She has toured extensively in Britain, Europe and America. She has also worked as an actor, composer and musician for various theatre companies, and has collaborated with poets and storytellers. But it is perhaps her collaboration with her daughter Angharad Jenkins that gives Delyth the most pleasure. Delyth and Angharad released their second album Llinyn Arian in 2018.

Delyth Jenkins will be reading extracts from the book and performing pieces inspired by her walk. Tickets are £5 can be ordered from Mission Gallery (01792 652016 | ) and will include a glass of wine or soft drink. For more information about the event, please contact Delyth Jenkins or Gwenllian at Y Lolfa | 01970 832304.

That Would Be Telyn by Delyth Jenkins (£8.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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Read Anisha Johnson's  winning entry here:  Flapper Girl

AmeriCymru: Hi Anisha and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. When did you first decide to start writing?

Anisha: I've been writing for as long as I can remember! My mother taught me to read when I was three and put a pencil in my hand as soon as I could hold one, so I was always encouraged to read and write as much as I could.

I was homeschooled by my mother my whole life, so I had the chance to write not just essays but also creative writing pieces for school. However, I wouldn't say that writing really became one of my hobbies until freshman year of high school, when I started to write outside of school hours as well. I started writing poetry first, and I finally decided to tackle the challenge of writing a novel when I participated in National Novel Writing Month in 2015. After that I set myself the goal of writing a novel every year, and I've continued to write short stories and poetry since then.

AmeriCymru: What is your writing process? Do you rely largely on observation or are your stories pure products of the imagination?

Anisha:   Both, actually, although I would say that the latter is usually more prevalent. I've been writing a lot of historical fiction lately, which has seemed to require more observation and research than imagination, but whenever I write fantasy, short stories, or poetry, I tend to write from my own imagination as much as I can. As fantasy is usually my genre of choice, I spend a lot of time with my eyes shut just thinking about various possibilities and ideas (this is usually what I'm doing when I'm caught daydreaming). I feel obligated to think of all my worlds and characters completely on my own, because it somehow seems like cheating to borrow from something that I saw in real life (that being said, if I'm really stuck and desperately need inspiration, I tend to get it from my writer friends. I’ll tell them about my ideas and ask them to pitch in and give ideas of their own, and sometimes by the end of these conversations the story has changed completely!).

My writing process is very haphazard. I hate writing outlines, so I usually just trust myself to remember all of my ideas, although sometimes if I have an idea for a particular line or scene I'll write it down in a document full of notes related to that particular writing project. For all of my novels, I basically just have these twenty-page long documents full of random ideas and pieces of dialogue, that I scroll through periodically to remind myself. It's complete chaos, but it's worked for me so far. And it's very gratifying to finish writing a novel and delete the last random idea from my notes, knowing that I have incorporated everything I wanted to into the book.

I also try to write for at least an hour a day (even if I'm writing trash! Writing stuff that I know I'll throw away later is better than writing nothing at all, and many of my best ideas have come from short stories or false starts that were eventually deleted). Discipline is a very important part of my writing process. Consequently, I don't usually write out-of-sequence; I like to write all of my scenes in the order that they're going to appear in the final version.

I guess you said say that my writing process consists of organized chaos…

AmeriCymru: In his adjudication Mike Jenkins says:- " the end I went for 'Flapper Girl' by Anisha Johnson, which really caught a moment in time very well." Did you have a particular effect on the reader in mind as you wrote this story?

Anisha:  Sort of, but I didn't put as much thought into it as I'd like to pretend I did. I mainly just wanted readers to put down the story and immediately start wondering what would happen to the character next. I think that everybody has experienced difficult situations where telling the truth could lead to disaster, and struggled with the outcomes of such situations. It's easy to feel sympathy for people going through similar situations, and I had this in mind when I wrote this story. I wanted readers to feel pity for the character trying to make a difficult decision, but I also wanted them to feel proud of her, in a way, for finally choosing to take the hard-but-right path, in the same way that we all feel proud of ourselves when we do the right thing despite the hardship that sometimes entails. Other than that, I really just wanted readers to enjoy the story!

AmeriCymru: Have you published anything else? Where can readers go to find more of your work?

Anisha:  Yes! One of my poems, ‘human’, was published as a winner in the California Coastal Art and Poetry Contest, an consequently published in an electronic issue of Chapman University’s TAB: A Journal of Poetry & Poetics. My poem ‘sometimes’ was published in the Live Poets Society of NJ’s anthology “My World” in summer of 2018. And my short story ‘The Fog’ was published as an Honorable Mention in Bluefire, the literary journal of the Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation.

AmeriCymru: What's next for Anisha Johnson?

Anisha: I graduated from high school in June 2018, and am taking a gap year before attending Mount Holyoke College this fall to study computer science, film, and creative writing. I have several more writing projects in the works, ranging from novels to poems, and I hope to learn screenwriting in the near future as well.

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

Anisha:   Thank you for reading my story and my interview — it means the world to authors like me who are just starting out in their careers! Writing really would mean nothing without people to read it. Every new audience that I write for helps me grow as an author, so thank you for being one of those audiences.

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AmeriCymru: What made you decide to organise the St David's Day parade in Aberystwyth? What was the inspiration and what was the original aim?

Sion: The first Aberystwyth St David’s Day Parade ( was in 2013. I founded it in response to the disappointing results of the 2011 census which had just been released. I felt we needed to lift people’s spirit and show we were “yma o hyd” (still here).

I’d also been a great supporter of Cardiff’s St David’s Day Parade and felt every town should have one. In fact, I suggested that in an article I have on St David’s Day in my book, ‘The Phenomenon of Welshness: How many Aircraft Carrieres would an Independent Wales have?’ I felt that Wales had always been to quiet and too, well boring, in its celebration of our patron saint, especially compared to the Irish. Although I felt St Patrick’s Day could seem a little naff at times, I admire their zeal and confidence in celebrating their national day.

I had considered holding a Glyndwr Day Parade rather than St David’s Day one as Glyndwr would be a secular event and so not offend or leave a bitter taste for those who wish celebration of St David’s Day to be more nationalistic and those who wished commemoration of St David to be more religious. In the end, after holding a small meeting, the consensus was that people were more familiar with St David’s Day and that Glyndwr Day Parade may not appeal to such a wide cross-section of society.

AmeriCymru: Who are the main organisers and do they get funding? Who takes part?

Sion: The Parade is organised by a small group of volunteers. I’d like the Parêd to grow to be a week-long event of music, discussion, comedy, food and fun. But I, and the others, don’t have the time. So, we try to do one thing well.

We receive money from Aberystwyth Town Council who are very supportive and the parade wouldn’t happen without it. We’ve also received money in the past from places like the Lottery and also from private businesses.

AmeriCymru: Tell me about some of the unique elements that you have in the Aber parade. How has it grown over the years and how do you see it growing in the future?  

Sion: I’m a great believed in invented tradition and in thanking, celebrating an elevating our heroes. I’m also a fan of flags. So, this Parade includes all those strands.

We’ve invented our traditions such as having a bagpiper to lead the Parade. The pipes are Welsh pipes or Galician. The tunes are Welsh – Calon Lân for instance.

Behind the piper in the Parade is the ‘Tywysydd’ (leader). Every year the Parade choses a local person who we believe has made a contriution to Welsh language life in the town and possibly nationally. The first Tywysydd was the late Dr Meredydd Evans, the musicologist and later head of BBC Cymru Wales Light Entertainment. He and his American wife, Phyllis Kinney, had made a huge contribution to the study and celebration of Welsh folk music – as well as other things. This year’s Tywysydd, by contrast, is Dilys Mildon, who’s from Aberystwyth and returned to the town in 1985 to open Gannets a very popular bistro in Aber. She retired last year. Gannets was a hub of Welsh language life and was one of the few places in the 1980s and 1990s which never shied away from using and promoting Welsh at a time when people were more averse, or even dismissive, of their business being seen as ‘too Welsh’.

AmeriCymru: What are the economic benefits to the area?

Sion: It’s hard to quantify, but the town is fuller on the Saturday afternoon. It’s ovious that people come in with their families either to take part in the Parade or to watch. We’ve also in the past organised music and events in some of the shops and cafes on the day of the Parade. We hold a free folk gig and music session at the Llew Du pub. There’s certainly a buzz on the day.

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AmeriCymru: What can you tell us about the Ras yr Iaith?

Sion : Ras yr Iaith ( is a different event. It’s a fun run for the Welsh language – to rasie profile and again, confidence in the language and also raise money which is then donated as grants to initiatives which support and use Welsh.

Ras yr Iaith (race of the language, language race) is based on other hugely successful language runs in the Basque Country (the first one) called the Korrika; Redadeg (Brittany), Rith (Ireland). Every different country has its own version but they are all non-competative and clubs, societies, families, businesses pay to sponsor a km of the route with the profit made given back as grants to support the native language.

Our Ras yr iaith happens every two years, the next one will be in July 2020. We run through the town centres along a route through Wales. With our run more than one institution or club can sponsor the same km. There have been 3 Ras yr Iaith so far (first on In 2014) and we’ve given out a lot £30k in grants during that period. So, it’s a way to raise money for the language independently of the state and it’s also a great way to draw supporters of the language – be they Welsh speakers or not – together as they run or help steward the event.

I founded Ras yr Iaith, in 2012. I hoped ‘someone else’ would do it, but then realised I was that ‘someone else’.

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AmeriCymru: Care to tell us a little about your book:- 'The Red Dragon - The Story of the Welsh Flag.'?

Sion: I like flags! The Red Dragon has to be one of the best flags ever, and its history is very interesting. The great thing about flags is that they are simultaneously an obvious manifestation of what and how a nation wishes to see itself represented to others, But the history behind the flag, the choices of flags and designs not made, the time it was constructed and flown, also betrays so much about the nation.

The Red Dragon was officially made flag of Wales in February 1959 when Westminster recognised it – though the present design itself was older of course.

AmeriCymru: In the book you propose that the 28th May to be commemorated annually in Wales as 'Flag Day'. Care to explain why? What has been the reaction to your suggestion?

Sion: I’d like to initiate 28 May as the Flag Day as it was on that day in 1865 that the oldest reference to the Welsh flag being flow is made as the Welsh settlers for Patagonia raised it on the Mimosa ship as it sailed out of Liverpool.

I haven’t had much reaction to be honest, though, Rhys Llewelyn, who organises the Pwllheli St David’s Day Parade is interested in promoting the idea further. Part of the problem is that Wales, nor the UK, has much of a tradition of ‘flag day’ so, people aren’t aware of the tradition. Also, many people no fly the flag at every day of the year. However, it’s something I’d like pursue.

I’d also like to promote my design for the Maritime Flag which is a Red Dragon flag but with the green half brought down to below the claws of the Red Dragon so that the red doesn’t deface the green. This will make the flag (and Dragon) easier to recongise from a distance. The current national flag design breaks the ‘Rules of Tincture’ which were, ironically, written by Welshman Humphrey Lhuyd in the 16th century.

AmeriCymru: What's next for Sion Jobbins. Will you be organising more marches? Do you have any new books planned?

Sion: What next? Well, no new books is one certainty, I’m afraid. I’m now Chair of Yes Cymru the grass roots, non-party political movement for an independent Wales. Things are moving quickly here with a big independence march in Cardiff on 11 May. I’ve also started and I present on Radio Yes Cymru – which is a rather grandiose name for an online broadcasting outfit – though I’d like to develop that more. Check out Yes Cymru and Radio Yes Cymru online and on Facebook and Twitter.

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

Sion: Keep in touch with Wales, support and promote Wales when you can, and try and enjoy life and see the best side of people – we’re only on this planet once – “do the little things” as St David said.

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