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Category: Book News


the life of carwyn james.jpgA new, comprehensive and revelatory biography of Maestro Carwyn James is published just as Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions take on the All Blacks in the latest test series. As Gatland’s Lions take on the mighty New Zealanders, thoughts inevitably go back to the one and only time that the Lions have beaten them in a Test series, under the leadership of the inimitable Carwyn James. Under his coaching, they secured a historical 3-1 victory in 1971.

Into the Wind: the life of Carwyn James by Alun Gibbard, is a thoroughly researched, comprehensive look at the life of a man who influenced rugby throughout the world. It contains new material relating to various aspects of his life, such as his time working for the Secret Services and his life in Italy. It also contains photographs and documents not seen before.

‘He was, say many, the greatest coach rugby has known. Not only did he mastermind the Lions first ever series victory on New Zealand soil, he then went on to coach his club side, Llanelli, to beat the All Blacks at Stradey Park Llanelli’ said biographer Alun Gibbard.

‘And, as this book confirms, he was also unofficially asked to prepare the Barbarians to face the All Blacks, as traditionally the Barbarians are not supposed to be coached. He therefore guided three teams to victory over the All Blacks’ added Alun.

The book has already recieved praise from the likes of Professor Dai Smith who praised it as being ‘Revelatory in its fresh information and sensitive in its interpretation, so that now, at last, we can see Carwyn whole. A triumph of a book.’

This book looks at the way his rugby acumen and insight developed from his wartime Primary School days, through Grammar and University education, National Service and teaching at Llandovery College, to the time he then became the coach of Llanelli, one of the first first class coaches in Wales. In doing so, it sheds light on rugby in three different decades in Wales and beyond, before we get to the decade the whole rugby world got to know of his genius, the Seventies.

But this biography argues that rugby was not the only drive in Carwyn’s life, in fact, Alun Gibbard argues that rugby wasn’t indeed the main love of his life.

‘He was, at heart, a man or literature with a poet’s spirit. He loved the literature of his native tongue, Welsh, but also the English classics’ explained Alun, ‘When he learned Russian in the Navy, he fell in love with Russian literature and when he coached Rovigo in Italy, he turned to the written word in that country’s language. He was also a prolific broadcaster from the late Fifties onwards and he stood as a Welsh nationalist candidate in a General Election.’

Into the Wind deals with the episode in his life when he was rejected as coach of Wales, making the point that he actually wasn’t rejected because he withdrew his own application. It then goes on to argue however that this does nor excuse the WRU for not utilising the rugby talent that Carwyn had more than others. It argues that he was let down by this Welsh organisation.

Into the Wind also argues that he was let down by another Welsh establishment, the BBC. This leading sporting figure and academic was employed to present sports bulletins are every hour of the day by the BBC, in a way that abused his obvious talents.

On a personal level, Into the Wind looks in depth at the popular, sometimes sensationalist claim that Carwyn James was gay. Alun Gibbard rejects any pressure to conclusively prove that he actually was gay, saying that it is not the biographers duty to come to a conclusion that the person himself had not come to.

Into the Wind doesn’t hold back however. It honestly analyses the battle with sexuality that raged inside Carwyn and which caused him such painful turmoil towards the end of his life. It states that Carwyn was facing a struggle to understand what he could feel happening to him, both rejecting and accepting sexual tensions that were raging inside. He never got to the point where he could resolve such tensions. His death in a bath in Amsterdam happened before he could reach such a resolution.

‘He was a genius but also a tortured soul’ added Alun, ‘Into the Wind brings Carwyn James to life once again, in all his genius and complexities.’

Alun Gibbard is a full time author from Llanelli who has published almost thirty non-fiction titles and one novel. He contributes weekly to the Welsh magazine Golwg. A broadcaster for over 25 years before he began his writing career, he still contributes to radio and television.

Into the Wind – The Life of Carwyn James by Alun Gibbard (£14.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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New Welsh Review, in association with Aberystwyth University and AmeriCymru, announced the winners of the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir, and AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella, at a ceremony at the Hay Festival on Thursday 1 June.

The Prizes celebrate the best in both Memoir and Novella from emerging and established writers, and received entries from both new and established writers based in Wales, England and the US. New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies judged both categories with the help of students from Aberystwyth University. The Novella Prize was co-judged by Welsh-American writer David Lloyd. David is the author of nine books including poetry collections, a novella and novels, and directs the Creative Writing Program at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.

Catherine Haines, a dual English-Australian citizen, won the Memoir Prize, for her account of a young woman’s experience of anorexia while at Oxford University, entitled ‘My Oxford’. Cath Barton, from the English Midlands and now living in Abergavenny, south Wales, won the Novella Prize for her story ‘The Plankton Collector’, a gentle pastiche of an idyllic world populated by archetypes who will help us heal and learn.

Both writers were given cheques for £1,000, as well as e-publication by New Welsh Review on their New Welsh Rarebyte imprint. They will also receive a positive critique by leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown

NWR Editor Gwen Davies said ‘In our two winning entries in the novella and memoir categories, chosen from nearly all-woman shortlists (putting our political parties to shame), healing, trauma and the fluidity of memory and experience predominate as themes.

‘On our memoir shortlist were true accounts of bad luck, eating and Cold War paranoia, all taken to extremes. From it triumphed a rigorous, philosophical case for regarding eating disorder as pilgrimage. Our four-minute animation [https://vimeo.com/219528361] of ‘My Oxford’, made by Aberystwyth University graduate Emily Roberts, uses typography to show the to-and-fro of academic discourse and the skull of Yorrick from Hamlet to illustrate Catherine’s experience of how anorexia started turning her into ‘a floating head… devoid of emotion.’

‘On our novella shortlist were dark stories of sexual abuse, grooming and escaping domineering fathers. From it triumphed a beautifully controlled mix of magical realism and nature writing about time, healing, trauma and the fluid, unreliable nature of memory. Our four-minute animation [https://vimeo.com/219525617] of ‘The Plankton Collector’, made by Aberystwyth University graduate Emily Roberts, deploys 1960s-style children’s book illustration to depict a lost natural golden world of childhood and the healing Everyman that Cath’s mysterious Plankton Collector represents.’

Second Place in the Memoir Prize was awarded to Mary Oliver for ‘The Case’, a ‘cross-genre fictionalised memoir’ that is ‘innovative, affecting, with depth of heart and breadth of research’. In the Novella Prize, Second Place was awarded to Olivia Gwyne for her story ‘The Seal’, a tale of ‘complex, nuanced characterizations and a narrative that expertly builds tension and suspense’. Mary and Olivia will both receive a weeklong residential course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales

Third Place in the Memoir Prize was awarded to Adam Somerset for ‘People, Places, Things: A Life With The Cold War’, a memoir that ‘paints a sweeping landscape of the Eastern Bloc as experienced through the eyes of a British backpacker.’ Nicola Daly was awarded Third Place in the Novella Prize, for her ‘innovative style and the masterfully-created, surreal world’ in her novella ‘The Night Where You No Longer Live’. Both Adam and Nicola win a weekend stay at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, north Wales.

All twelve nominees will be published in extract form in upcoming editions of New Welsh Reader; all six shortlisted writers will also receive a one-year subscription to the magazine.

New Welsh Review also reminded those present of the winners of their New Welsh Readers' Poll 2017: Best Memoir & Novella, originally announced in spring. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Vintage Books) is the winner of the Best Memoir category and received 50% of the vote. Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter (Faber) is the winner of the Best Novella category with 55% of the vote. Congratulations to Marjane Satrapi and Max Porter.

http://www.newwelshwritingawards.com/ #newwelshawards

The 2017 New Welsh Writing Awards are sponsored by Aberystwyth University, the core sponsor and host of New Welsh Review, and US online magazine and social network AmeriCymru. The Awards are run in partnership with Curtis Brown, Gladstone’s Library and Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre.

For images, more details on the Prizes, Readers’ Poll and for interview requests please contact Jamie Harris on marketing@newwelshreview.com or 07812 804505. Please note that Catherine Haines is currently in Hong Kong but is available via email and video.



Gwen Davies (judge)'s adjudication plus author biographies



FISRT PLACE MEMOIR

CATHERINE HAINES (CHARING, KENT), ‘My Oxford’

A young woman’s experience of anorexia while at Oxford University enriches a lively account of student life with literary, philosophical and existential questions. As the Cambridge Weight Plan spins out of control, a post-grad’s academic subject, ‘the mind-body problem’, goes through an existential phase to become ‘extraordinary morality’ rather than a mental health problem. Catherine Haines developed anorexia and underwent religious conversion while facing extreme academic pressure at Oxford University. She wrote it in tribute to a male friend who died from the condition, to explore her own experiences deeply and as self-vindication against friends’ harsh judgement of her in the light of her work at the time as a model. She feels that eating disorders may be regarded as a ‘pilgrimage’ rather than being a ‘media-inspired dysfunction’. ‘My Oxford’ augments a cool, detached style in order to emphasise the rigour of the author’s academic training and the physical process of anorexia which made her ‘something of a floating head… devoid of emotion’. This is a rigorous, perceptive, original and truly felt piece of writing from a very fine mind.

Catherine Haines is a dual English-Australian citizen. She studied Philosophy at the Australian National University and took her Masters Degree in English at the University of Oxford. Catherine currently lives in Hong Kong, and will shortly begin a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham. Her work has been published in Needle in the Hay, Cherwell and Woroni. Her debut novel, The Wicked and the Fair, is currently being circulated.

SECOND PLACE MEMOIR

MARY OLIVER (NEWLYN, CORNWALL), ‘The Case’

Jim, an emigrant from England to Canada, awaits release from a progressive mental hospital and reconciliation with his baby daughter. He is in turns hopeful migrant, stowaway, farmer, thief, hobo, rough poet and ever-loving brother. This story approaches its subject prismatically through different documentary sources, and is based on an historical character. Innovative, affecting, with depth of heart and breadth of research, this cross-genre fictionalised memoir, about ‘one man’s bad luck’ and what his life shows about society, rewards re-reading.

Mary [MJ] Oliver was born in Clun, Shropshire and since then has lived mainly in Scotland and Cornwall. Having gained a BA and an MA in Fine Art from Reading and Falmouth Universities, she exhibited paintings and installations across the UK. Her work was collected by Carmen Callil and some were reproduced as book covers by Virago. To supplement income, she also taught for many years; from facilitating Art Workshops in Barlinnie Jail, Glasgow, to lecturing in Fine Art at Falmouth University. Mary has been writing full time since 2014 and has had a number of prize nominations for her work.

THIRD PLACE MEMOIR

ADAM SOMERSET (ABERAERON), ‘People, Places, Things: A Life with the Cold War’

This memoir paints a sweeping landscape of the Eastern Bloc as experienced through the eyes of a British backpacker. The account is coloured with frequent references to the historical hinterland and details of the author's encounters with the inhabitants of the world beyond the Iron Curtain - all these elements coming together to provide the reader with an immersion into the ‘culture of apocalypse’.

Adam Somerset has lived in Ceredigion for 23 years. His first piece of writing was a play Quay Pursuits produced at the Questors Theatre in Ealing. He wrote an article on national theatre in 2007 for Planet magazine. In the same year he began to write for Theatre Wales, a review site based in Aberystwyth. He is the author of 600 commentary articles and reviews of theatre books and productions. He has written 100 reviews and articles on art, photography, history and television for Wales Arts Review. His reviews of books on politics have featured on the website of the Institute of Welsh Affairs.



Gwen Davies and David Lloyd (co-judges’) adjudication plus author biographies



FIRST PLACE NOVELLA

CATH BARTON, ‘The Plankton Collector’

“Look,” the narrator directs the reader at the start of this beautifully-written novella. “We are approaching a country house, somewhere in the middle of England.” And with this narrator’s guidance, we enter the house, and enter the lives of its inhabitants - who are ordinary and, it turns out, quite extraordinary. Through an assured combination of magical realism and traditional realism, this story tells of the mysterious Plankton Collector, whose intercessions help members of an apparently conventional family come to terms with debilitating traumas: infidelity, isolation, a closeted gay husband, the death of kin. It is a wise tale of vulnerability, healing, and love. Ultimately, memory and trauma work in tandem, and the power of imagination triumphs. The elegant and finely-tuned prose made “The Plankton Collector” rise to the top of our short-list.

Cath Barton was born in the English Midlands and now lives in Abergavenny, south Wales. Her short stories have been published in anthologies in Australia, the US and the UK, and her flash fiction has appeared on-line in Fictive Dream, Firefly Magazine and Long Exposure, amongst other places. Cath was Literature Editor of California-based Celtic Family Magazine (2013-2016) and is a regular contributor to Wales Arts Review.

SECOND PLACE NOVELLA

OLIVIA GWYNE, ‘The Seal’

This is a story of unequal power, and the grooming of an eleven-year-old girl by a nineteen-year-old male. He spots the source of her vulnerability in her crazy religious Nana and her fearful mother. Strong beach and caravan-site settings coupled with the cat-and-mouse story make compelling reading. ‘The Seal’ is short-listed in second place because of the complex, nuanced characterizations and a narrative that expertly builds tension and suspense.

Olivia Gwyne, originally from Hereford, is now based in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 2015 her pamphlet of short stories, The Kittens’ Wedding, was published by Womach Press, and the same year she won the SASH Writing Prize. Olivia has also been shortlisted for the Wells Short Story Competition, the Home Start Short Story Prize and the Horror Scribes Flash Fiction Ghost Story Competition. Her work was recently featured in Halo Literary Magazine. She holds a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Newcastle University.

THIRD PLACE NOVELLA

NICOLA DALY, ‘The Night Where You No Longer Live’

A first person, dark European fairytale about abuse, cross-dressing and the main character Claudette’s desperate attempts to escape a cruel, deceased father’s shadow and a living brother’s evil intent. Unusual, unsettling language animates each page, as does Claudette’s immediate voice. The novella’s dense texture is further enriched with references to modern Paris as well as Baudelaire and Sartre. This novella is our third place choice because of the innovative style and the masterfully-created, surreal world.

Nicola Daly was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire in 1974. However for most of her life she has lived in Chester. Her short stories, non- fiction work and poetry has been widely published by a variety of publications such as Honno Women’s Press, The North West Arts Council Anthologies, Myslexia, Rialto, and many more.



About New Welsh Review



New Welsh Review was founded in 1988 as the successor to The Welsh Review (1939- 1948), Dock Leaves and The Anglo-Welsh Review (1949-1987) and is Wales’s foremost literary magazine in English, offering a vital outlet for the very best new fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry, a forum for critical debate, and a rigorous and engaged reviewing culture. New Welsh Review Ltd is supported through core funding by the Welsh Books Council and hosted by Aberystwyth University Department of English and Creative Writing. The magazine’s creative content was rebranded as New Welsh Reader in 2015, with reviews moving entirely online. New Welsh Review can be bought by Direct Debit on subscription at £16.99, UK only (£20.99 for all other subscription types, UK) via www.newwelshreview.com. New Welsh Review Ltd, PO Box 170, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 1WZ, Tel: 01970 628410, Email: admin@newwelshreview.com

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ylolfa.jpgThe mid-sixties was a period of protest and fun a young man Robat Gruffudd took advantage of the new small offset printing process to produce cheeky, colourful material for the Welsh youth of the time. He had produced the first issue of ‘Lol’, a satirical magazine, with a friend while at Bangor University, before settling in Talybont, where his new wife, Enid, was a teacher at the primary school.

‘It was an exciting and hopeful period, but I was lucky too. Talybont turned out to be the perfect location - a friendly, cultured village right in the middle of Wales’ said Robat, ‘Ceredigion too has provided us with talented authors and staff, and we were lucky that the Welsh Books Council, who have been very supportive, were nearby as well.’

Now the publishing and print company is celebrating 50 years in the industry and is by now Wales’ most prolific mainstream publisher, producing over 80 titles a year. It has a turnover of more than £1m and employs 20 full-time staff. With more than 700 authors on its books, including broadcaster Huw Edwards and prominent sports personalities such as Nigel Owens, the range of books includes Welsh language tutors such as Welsh is Fun, which has sold over 250,000 copies, fiction and biography, books of Welsh interest for the tourist trade, and several series of original, children’s books by home-grown authors and artists.

‘We’ve always supported local authors, artist and designers because this is a way of supporting people’s livelihoods. Publishing is an industry and we are very proud that we’ve built up a sustainable, small business providing proper, professional jobs in a Welsh rural area.’ added Robat.

The company is now run by Robat’s two sons, Garmon who is Managing Director and Lefi as Director of Publishing. The company has been particularly successful with its Welsh language fiction list, having won Welsh Book of the Year three years in a row.

‘We’re well known as publishers but we’ve always printed our own books, enabling us to control both costs and quality. But this means we can also offer a competitive general print service. We now have a high-tech five-colour Komori B2 press, a perfecting (two-sided) press for bookwork, and a Xerox digital press for short runs’ said Garmon.

‘But machinery by itself is of no use without skilled staff to operate them. The main reason for our success over the last half century is the quality of our staff, and their skill and depth of experience both on the printing and publishing sides of the business.’ he added.

Print is run by production manager Paul Williams of Aberystwyth, ‘Being relatively small enables us to provide a really good, personal service and we pride ourselves that customers who come to us very rarely leave.’

Paul joined Lolfa from Cambrian Printers. Around half the company’s turnover comes from its printing side and it prides itself on its fast, friendly service.

A book festival, Bedwen Lyfrau, will be held between 10 and 4pm on Saturday the 20th of May at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. Y Lolfa’s 50th birthday party will be held at Marine hotel, Aberystwyth at 8pm.

INVITATION: Printers and publishers Y Lolfa celebrate 50 years in business Saturday, 20 May, at the Marine Hotel, Aberystwyth. Local Assembly Member and Presiding Officer, Elin Jones, will open the proceedings followed by live bands.

‘The party is going to be really huge as we’re inviting everybody. There’ll be plenty to enjoy, musically and otherwise.’ said Fflur Arwel, the company’s marketing manager.

‘We’ll be showing a new, anniversary ‘mural’ design by local artist, Ruth Jên, as well as our new, mobile friendly, website. Y Lolfa was the first Welsh-language publishing company to have a website and we want to stay in front of the queue technically and creatively’.

CONTACTS: Garmon Gruffudd, Paul Williams, Robat Gruffudd, Fflur Arwel all at 01970 832 304 or via their emails: garmon@ylolfa.com, paul@ylolfa.com, robat@ylolfa.com, fflur@ylolfa.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In a world dominated by large corporations and bureaucracies, Y Lolfa believes that ‘small is beautiful’ in publishing as in life. It was André Gide who said: ‘I like small nations. I like small numbers. The world will be saved by the few.’

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Screenshot from 20170403 154148.pngNew Welsh Review in association with Aberystwyth University and AmeriCymru is delighted to announce the longlists for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir and AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella.

Now in its third year, the Awards were set up to champion the best short-form writing in English and has previously run non-fiction categories with the WWF Cymru Prize for Writing on Nature, won by Eluned Gramich in 2015 and the University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing, won by Mandy Sutter in 2016. The Awards 2017 opened up entries from the US and Canada for the first time in the Novella category.

Both new and established writers based in Wales, England and the US are in the running for the top prize including a joint memoir by a husband and wife. The longlist is dominated by women with 8 out of 9 women contending for the Memoir Prize and 6 out of 9 women in the running for the Novella Prize.

The memoir list includes true stories of a Canadian hobo; anorexia; a daughter’s American road-trip made to help reconcile her father and grandmother; an all-boys care-home in South Africa whose residents include a baboon; being the daughter of a Rhyl beauty competition judge, and backpacking behind the iron curtain.

Among the novellas, sexual abuse or the threat of it are among the themes; also homosexuality in a Welsh monastery; the meanings and mystery of treasures old and new; escaping the shadow of a father figure, and the enduring healing and destructive powers of archetypes and idylls.

Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir Longlist

Maria Apichella (Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk) The Red Circle

Caroline Greville (Eythorne, Nr. Dover Kent) Badger Contact

Catherine Haines (Charing, Kent) My Oxford

Liz Jones (Aberystwyth, Wales) On Shifting Sands

Sarah Leavesley (Droitwich, Worcestershire) The Myopic of Me

Mary Oliver (Newlyn, Cornwall) The Case

Amanda and Robert Oosthuizen (Eastleigh, Hampshire) Boystown S.A.

Lynne Parry-Griffiths (Wrexham) Painting the Beauty Queens Orange

Adam Somerset (Aberaeron, Wales) People, Places, Things: A Life with the Cold War

AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella Longlist

Cath Barton (Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales) The Plankton Collector

Rebecca Casson (Holywell, Flintshire, Wales) Infirmarian

Barbara de la Cuesta (Seaside Heights, New Jersey, US) Exiles

Nicola Daly (Chester, Cheshire) The Night Where you no Longer Live

Olivia Gwyne (Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland) The Seal

Atar Hadari (Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire) Burning Poets

Joao Morais (Cardiff, Wales) Smugglers' Tunnel

Veronica Popp (Chicago, US) Sick

Mike Tuohy (Jefferson, Georgia, US) Double Nickel Jackpot

Commended

Amanda Oosthuizen (Eastleigh, Hampshire) Carving Strangers

New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies judged both categories with help from students from Aberystwyth University. The shortlist for the Novella category will now be co-judged by Welsh-American writer David Lloyd. David is the author of nine books including poetry collections and novels, and directs the Creative Writing Program at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.

Gwen Davies, editor of New Welsh Review said: ‘These Awards keep going from strength to strength in their third year with a much-increased number of entries and an excellent standard of writing. Carving Strangers, a South-Africa set novel about female emancipation, wood-carving and illegal diamonds, didn’t make it to the longlist but deserves a special mention for the quality and flow of its prose. The novella category, in particular, this year offers a range of voice and expertise of style, as well as historical span, that bodes well for the future of the novella in Wales, a place that has long been a haven for the shorter form in literature.’

The shortlist will be announced at an event at The Bookshop in Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Thursday 4 May from 6.30-8pm and the winners will be announced at a ceremony at Hay Festival on Thursday 1 June from 2-4pm.

Each category winner will receive £1,000 cash, e-publication by New Welsh Review on their New Welsh Rarebyte imprint and a positive critique by leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown. Second prize for each category is a weeklong residential course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales and third prize is a weekend stay at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, north Wales. All six winners will also receive a one-year subscription to New Welsh Review. In addition New Welsh Review will consider the highly commended and shortlisted nominees for publication in a forthcoming edition of its creative magazine New Welsh Reader with an associated standard fee.

The Awards are open to all writers based in the UK and Ireland plus those who live overseas who have been educated in Wales. The AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella was also open to writers based in the US and Canada.

The 2017 Awards are sponsored by Aberystwyth University, the core sponsor and host of New Welsh Review, and US online magazine and social network AmeriCymru. The Awards are run in partnership with Curtis Brown, Gladstone’s Library and Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre.

www.newwelshwritingawards.com #newwelshawards




Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir Longlist

Maria Apichella (Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk)

The Red Circle

A daughter’s Pennsylvania road-trip with her Italian-American father is taken to help reconcile him with his mother. A red and black oil painting and the father’s hospital visit frame evocative settings of forest and former coalmines, while this memoir is warmed by delightful exchanges with a cast of far-flung relatives.

Maria Apichella completed her PhD in English and Creative Writing at The University of Aberystwyth, Wales. An award-winning poet, her book Psalmody was co-winner of Eyewear’s 2015 Melita Hume Prize. Paga was a winner of the Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Competition in 2014. She teaches English with the University of Maryland, University College, Europe. Visit her blog: mariaapichella.com

Caroline Greville (Eythorne, Nr. Dover, Kent)

Badger Contact

Twelve-year-old Maddy becomes addicted to visiting her local badger sett, while her mother gets drawn in to the politics and legalities of badger life, coming to blows at times with neighbours and farmers. Enriched with literary, folk, and natural history references.

Caroline Greville lives in a rural Kent village with her husband, four children and ever-expanding menagerie of chickens, ducks, guinea pigs and badgers. She is completing a PhD in Narrative Non-Fiction at the University of Kent, where she also works as an assistant lecturer in creative writing. She continues to teach part-time for Kent Adult Education, which she has done since completing a Masters in creative writing in 2014. During 2016 her nature writing featured in four anthologies published by Elliott and Thompson for the Wildlife Trusts.

Catherine Haines (Charing, Kent)

My Oxford

A young woman’s experience of anorexia while at Oxford University enriches a lively account of student life with literary, philosophical and existential questions. As the Cambridge Weight Plan spins out of control, a post-grad’s academic subject, ‘the mind-body problem’, goes through an existential phase to become ‘extraordinary morality’ rather than a mental health problem.

Catherine Haines is a dual English-Australian citizen. She studied Philosophy at the Australian National University and took her Masters Degree in English at the University of Oxford. Catherine currently lives in Hong Kong, and will shortly begin a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham. Her work has been published in Needle in the Hay, Cherwell and Woroni. Her debut novel, The Wicked and the Fair, is currently being circulated.

Liz Jones (Aberystwyth, Wales)

On Shifting Sands

Another true tale of family rift and reconciliation. The author was estranged as a girl from her shallow, beautiful mother, the death of whose sister Ruth damages generations. The gap between brash Merthyr Gran and Nain of Newborough couldn’t be greater. Somehow, though, between these grandmothers and the healing powers of the beautiful Ynys Môn islands, beaches and warrens, identity is forged. Innovatively framed by a ‘historical’ journal of the town.

Following her writing debut, ‘The Naughty Dog’ (which won her a gold star at her Merthyr primary school), Liz Jones has gone on to write drama and creative non-fiction, reviews, short stories and journalism ranging from Take a Break to New Welsh Review. Along the way she has raised two daughters, tried (and failed) to change the world, worked in a café-cum-bookshop, a housing association, in community development and lifelong learning. She is now a Teaching Fellow at Aberystwyth University. Liz is now working on a biography of the incredible - but forgotten - bestselling novelist, scriptwriter, actor and theatre impresario known as Oliver Sandys or Countess Barcynska.

Sarah Leavesley (Droitwich, Worcestershire)

The Myopic of Me

A forensic look at depression that flows forwards and backwards through time, painting the picture of a life through a series of snapshots. Themes and images of sight and how we see recur throughout, from photography to kaleidoscopes. An examination of the self as consistently shifting and malleable.

Sarah Leavesley is a journalist, fiction writer, poet and editor. Having lived, studied and worked across England, Wales and France, Sarah is now based in Worcestershire but considers herself an amalgamation of all the people and places she has known. Her poems have been published by the Financial Times, Guardian, The Rialto, PN Review, Magma, The Forward Book of Poetry 2016, on county buses and in the Blackpool Illuminations. A short novella, Kaleidoscope, was published in March and her Lampshades & Glass Rivers Overton Poetry Prize 2015 pamphlet-length sequence in 2016. The Myopic of Me is her first piece of memoir. The University of Oxford modern languages graduate has postgraduate qualifications in journalism and creative writing from Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Wales, Cardiff. She is also a keen swimmer, cyclist and climber.

Mary Oliver (Newlyn, Cornwall)

The Case

Jim, an emigrant from England to Canada, awaits release from a progressive mental hospital and reconciliation with his baby daughter. He is in turns hopeful migrant, stowaway, farmer, thief, hobo, rough poet and ever-loving brother. This story approaches its subject prismatically through different documentary sources, and is based on an historical character. Innovative, affecting, with depth of heart and breadth of research, this memoir rewards re-reading.

Mary Oliver was born in Clun, Shropshire and since then has lived mainly in Scotland and Cornwall. Having gained a BA and an MA in Fine Art from Reading and Falmouth Universities, she exhibited paintings and installations across the UK. Her work was collected by Carmen Callil and some were reproduced as book covers by Virago. To supplement income, she also taught for many years; from facilitating Art Workshops in Barlinnie Jail, Glasgow, to lecturing in Fine Art at Falmouth University. Mary has been writing full time since 2014 and has been had a number of prize nominations for her work.

Amanda and Robert Oosthuizen (Eastleigh, Hampshire)

Boystown S.A.

Told by a husband to his writer-wife. Due to family rift and addiction, Robert Oosthuizen was brought up in South Africa by his grandmother, mother, foster homes and residential schools including the highly democratic Catholic Boystown, whose residents included a baboon. Action ranges from rugby matches, in which boots feature only occasionally, to a bizarrely set Eisteddfod, this memoir captures the presentness of childhood in which a survivor takes all in his stride.

Robert Oosthuizen moved from South Africa to the U.K. in 1977, and became a British National soon after. He is married to Amanda and they have three grown-up daughters. He has never returned to South Africa in spite of his daughters’ attempts to persuade him. He is a passionate photographer, and is thinking about joining a choir.

Amanda Oosthuizen’s stories and poems have been published in various forms, shown in galleries, in Winchester Cathedral and on the London Underground. Last year a series of ten poems was displayed in Oxfordshire as part of a collaboration with artist, Lucy Ash. Her latest online story is at 3:AM and prose and poetry is forthcoming in the U.K. with Paragram, and in the U.S. with Woven Tale Press and Prelude. She has an M.A. with distinction in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester, where she won the Kate Betts Prize. A long time ago, she studied English and Music at Aberystwyth University and has combined both ever since. Amanda and Robert have been married for 38 years and live in Hampshire.

Lynne Parry-Griffiths (Wrexham)

Painting the Beauty Queens Orange

This account of being the daughter of a Rhyl beauty competition judge shows a world of Carmen rollers, Miss Prestatyn Prince Charming and Dad going to work at Tito’s club in a frilly shirt and butterfly bowtie.

Lynne Parry-Griffiths was born in St. Asaph and educated at various universities. She currently teaches part-time and seems to divide a lot of her time between Rhuddlan and Ruabon. Her short story, ‘My Will Ne’er Be Done’ was a runner-up in the Cheshire Prize for Literature in 2015. She has recently co-founded smallbooks, an artisan publishing company, and the first book in the Catrin-Elisabeth series for young children, Ladybird is Lost, will be published in 2017.

Adam Somerset (Aberaeron, Wales)

People, Places, Things: A Life with the Cold War

This memoir paints a sweeping landscape of the Eastern Bloc as experienced through the eyes of a British backpacker. The account is coloured with frequent references to the historical hinterland and details of the author's encounters with the inhabitants of the world beyond the Iron Curtain - all these elements coming together to provide the reader with an immersion into the 'culture of apocalypse'.

Adam Somerset has lived in Ceredigion for 23 years. His first piece of writing was a play Quay Pursuits produced at the Questors Theatre in Ealing. He wrote an article on national theatre in 2007 for Planet magazine. In the same year he began to write for Theatre Wales, a review site based in Aberystwyth. He is the author of 600 commentary articles and reviews of theatre books and productions. He has written 100 reviews and articles on art, photography, history and television for Wales Arts Review. His reviews of books on politics have featured on the website of the Institute of Welsh Affairs.

AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella Longlist

Cath Barton (Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales)

The Plankton Collector

This combination of magical realism and a realistic tale has the sense of being a gentle pastiche of an idyllic world populated by archetypes who will help us heal and learn. It tells of various family traumas being faced through the intercession of the mysterious Plankton Collector: infidelity, a closeted gay husband, the death of kin. Ultimately, memory and trauma work in tandem, and the power of imagination triumphs.

Cath Barton was born in the English Midlands and now lives in South Wales. Her short stories have been published in anthologies in Australia, the US and the UK, and her flash fiction has appeared on-line in Fictive Dream, Firefly Magazine and Long Exposure, amongst other places. Cath was Literature Editor of California-based Celtic Family Magazine (2013-2016) and is a regular contributor to Wales Arts Review.

Rebecca Casson (Holywell, Flintshire, Wales)

Infirmarian

Complex and authentic first-person narrative of homosexuality, sickness, healing and herbs in a Welsh monastery. Two novices go missing and are found with an interesting, gender-bending twist and a story of unrequited love.

Rebecca Casson is originally from North Yorkshire but travelled widely as a child with her army family. Graduating from Liverpool University in 2010 with an MA in Classics, she qualified as a teacher and now teaches Latin, Classical Civilisation and Ancient Greek at a girls’ school in Chester. As yet unpublished, Rebecca currently lives in North Wales with her husband and enjoys writing fiction in her free time.

Barbara de la Cuesta (Seaside Heights, New Jersey, US)

Exiles

Atmospheric and nuanced story of expat life penetrated by local characters and dangerous politics. The language, food, landscape and customs of Cuba are vivid. Themes include gender politics, the unknowability of others, sacrifice, chance, injustice, class, privilege and poverty. The value of love is held up to that of pragmatism and convention.

Barbara de la Cuesta has one published novel, The Spanish Teacher, winner of the Gival Press Fiction Prize in 2007. She has been past recipient of fellowships in fiction from the Massachusetts Artists’ Foundation, and the New Jersey Council on the Arts, as well as residencies at the Ragdale Foundation, The Virginia Center, and the Millay Colony. Her poetry collection will be published this year by Finishing Line Press. She lives in New Jersey and has taught English as a Second Language and Spanish for many years.

Nicola Daly (Chester, Cheshire)

The Night Where you no Longer Live

First person dark European fairytale about abuse, cross-dressing and Claudette’s desperate attempts to escape a cruel, dead father’s shadow and a living brother’s evil intent. The unusual, unsettling language here is compelling, as is Claudette’s immediate voice. Enriched with references to modern Paris as well as Baudelaire and Sartre.

Nicola Daly was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire in 1974. However for most of her life she has lived in Chester. Her short stories, non- fiction work and poetry has been widely published by a variety of publications such as Honno Women’s Press, The North West Arts Council Anthologies, Myslexia, Rialto, and many more.

Olivia Gwyne (Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland)

The Seal

This is the story of unequal power, and the grooming of an eleven year old girl by a nineteen year old male. He spots the source of her vulnerability in her crazy religious Nana and her fearful mother. Strong beach and caravan-site settings coupled with the cat-and-mouse story make compelling reading.

Olivia Gwyne, originally from Hereford, is now based in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 2015 her pamphlet of short stories, The Kittens’ Wedding, was published by Womach Press, and the same year she won the SASH Writing Prize. Olivia has also been shortlisted for the Wells Short Story Competition, the Home Start Short Story Prize and the Horror Scribes Flash Fiction Ghost Story Competition. Her work was recently featured in Halo Literary Magazine. She holds a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Newcastle University.

Atar Hadari (Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire)

Burning Poets

A curiously perplexing account of a famous, passionate, deceased poet: her life and its many hurts, in tandem with an ambitious academic later in time, who attempts to uncover the secrets of her passing. the reader is haunted by the voice and words of a woman with deep, ardent, almost animalistic hopes, desires and vices.

Atar Hadari was born in Israel, raised in England, trained as an actor and writer at the University of East Anglia before winning a scholarship to study poetry and playwrighting with Derek Walcott at Boston University. His plays and songs have won many awards.

Joao Morais (Cardiff, Wales)

Smugglers' Tunnel

A historical tale of 19th century Cardiff that takes some surprising twists and turns; charting the journey of a young man struggling to escape the shadow of his late father, while uncovering the mystery behind a most exotic trinket. A wide cast of characters inhabit a vividly formed, urban world of desperation and poverty.

Joao Morais lives in Cardiff. He is about to complete a PhD in Creative Writing at Cardiff University. He has previously been shortlisted for the Academi Rhys Davies Short Story Prize, the Percy French Prize for Comic Verse, and the All Wales Comic Verse Award. He won the 2013 Terry Hetherington Prize for Young Writers. He has a short story collection due out next year with Parthian.

Veronica Popp (Chicago, US)

Sick

A writer in her early 20s has a mother in hospital dying of liver cancer. The protagonist is in an obsessive, toxic relationship based on meaningless sex. Pleasure circles evasion as conventional ‘doctor’-patient roles are overturned.

Veronica Popp is an activist and writer throughout the city of Chicago. She has a Bachelor’s from Elmhurst College in English and History, a Master’s in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and a Master’s in English with a concentration in Literary Studies from Western Illinois University. Popp has been published by many magazines and journals. Popp was recently nominated for the Silver Pen Writers Association Writing Well Award. Last year, she was a Teaching Artist and Co-Editor of student writing for Young Chicago Authors. The resulting work titled The End of Chiraq will be published by Northwestern University Press. Popp teaches composition at Elmhurst College and recently completed her first novel, The Longest Summer, out for submission to literary agents.

Mike Tuohy (Jefferson, Georgia, US)

Double Nickel Jackpot

Pacey, dialogue-driven, filmic, comic, coming-of-age anti-bromance. Parker and Lee, drifting since school, turn their access to the police car pool to their advantage in a joyride through the Bayou badlands. Things turn very nasty indeed.

Mike Tuohy was born in New Jersey in 1954. Moving to Georgia in 1965, he has sopped up Southern Culture ever since. A professional geologist, Mike works the environmental consulting rackets by day and writes at night, making friends, family and co-workers nervous as he chronicles the preposterous through short stories, novellas and a novel-in-progress. 17 of his short stories, including two collaborations and a Pushcart nominee, have been published. A two-time finalist in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest, he has a total of nine words in that prestigious publication. Mike lives with his wife Sally in an earth-sheltered home by the North Oconee River near Jefferson, Georgia.

Commended

Amanda Oosthuizen (Eastleigh, Hampshire)

Carving Strangers

In this 1940s South-Africa set novel, the protagonist seeks escape from an unhappy marriage through carving beautiful boxes from rare African wood. When this doesn’t pay, she forms dangerous alliances, breaching class and race to enter the illegal diamond trade and move towards emancipation.

Amanda Oosthuizen’s stories and poems have been published in various forms, shown in galleries, in Winchester Cathedral and on the London Underground. Last year a series of ten poems was displayed in Oxfordshire as part of a collaboration with artist, Lucy Ash. Her latest online story is at 3:AM and another was recently shortlisted in The London Magazine competition; prose and poetry is forthcoming in the U.K. with Paragram, and in the U.S. with Woven Tale Press and Prelude. She has an M.A. with distinction in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester, where she won the Kate Betts Prize. She lives in Hampshire but a long time ago, she studied English and Music at Aberystwyth University and has worked in both subject areas ever since. Born a Jenkins, her family came from Merthyr.

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walesina100places.jpg

Y Lolfa has published a new edition of its bestselling guide book to the must see places in Wales.

Wales in 100 Places is the updated version of Wales 100 places to see before you die which won the Welsh Book of the Year prize and was adapted to a popular television series on S4C. The publishing of the new version of the acclaimed volume follows the death of author and historian John Davies in 2015.

Wales in 100 Places combines words and pictures from two leading authorities in their fields; the late historian John Davies shares his remarkable depth of knowledge of the history of Wales; the photographer Marian Delyth travelled the length of the country in all weathers to create the magical atmosphere of the hundred places observed.

From Anglesey to Monmouthshire, from Pembrokeshire to Flintshire, these are a hundred places that we should visit in our lifetime.

‘During my travels, I came to realize how fortunate we are in Wales. Our country contains an astonishing range of examples of the fruits of human efforts’ said John Davies during the first publication, ‘Citizens of the larger nations of Europe cannot hope in the span of a single lifetime to visit all the highlights of their country’s heritage. But Welsh residents and visitors to Wales can, by the time they reach three score years and ten, visit, appreciate and love all its glories.’

‘The constantly changing light on the varied landscape of such a small country, and the wealth of histories and characters within our wonderful communities never cease to excite me’ added Marian Delyth, ‘I hope that the photographs in some small way reflect those particular qualities.’

John Davies (1938 - 2015) was a native of the Rhondda and was a presenter of the popular History Hunters TV series. In 2015 Y Lolfa published his autobiography A Life in History, translated from Welsh by Jon Gower. He received the Glyndŵr Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in in Wales in 2015 and was described as “one of the most influential Welshmen of our era” by Prof Richard Wyn Jones.

Marian Delyth is a freelance graphic designer and photographer working from her studio near Aberystwyth. She has worked primarily for the publishing industry in Wales and has won many awards incuding the Tir na n-Og prize for best children's book on two occasions. She has worked on many collaborations with writers and poets and now devotes most of her life to her photographic work and shares her enthusiasm and knowledge in workshops and lectures. A prominent campaigner in the promotion of Art in Wales, she was a founder member of Ffotogallery and Gweled. She has exhibited her work in Wales and internationally.

Wales in 100 Places by John Davies and Marian Delyth (£19.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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rarebit and rioja.jpg

Dylan & Llinos Rowlands



A Welsh cookbook by two local Welsh entrepreneurs has won a prestigious French cookbook award.

Rarebit and Rioja: Recipes and wine tales from Wales by Dylan and Llinos Rowlands of Gwin Dylanwad Wine, Dolgellau, has been declared the national British winner in its category, Best Food and Wine at the 2017 Gourmand Awards. The Welsh food and wine book stems from the two entrepreneurs’ 30 years experience in the trade.

The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards were founded in 1995 by Edouard Cointreau. Every year, they honour the best food and wine books, printed or digital, as well as food and cookery television programmes. Books from over two hundred countries participate in these prestigious awards, the only international competition of the sector.

This most recent success for Dylan and Llinos Rowlands follows previous accolades from renowned wine guru Hugh Johnson – who praised the wine shop and cafe-bar as a ‘Great little wine merchant in Dolgellau’ and wine writer Nevill Bletch who commended the bar as ‘one of the best places you can drink real quality at a reasonable price’.

Rarebit and Rioja is much more than just a recipe book with its entertaining and sometimes touching tales of journeys of discovery in the wine world from Spain to Armenia. It contains recipes, with some of the best Welsh ingredients from Canapés and Tapas, to Main Courses and Desserts which are accompanied by wine recommendations. The book is very much a wine book too and discusses how to make the most of tasting wine; what makes a good wine and the characteristics of various grapes. It ends with menu suggestions for special meals as well as a list of Welsh producers.

Dylan is a regular guest on S4C daytime magazine show Prynhawn Da as their wine expert and Llinos writes regular articles on food and wine. They host tastings in their beautifully renovated 16th century building in Dolgellau, which now includes upstairs tasting rooms where customers can relax and enjoy the wide variety of wines from the cellar shop that Dylan has travelled far and wide to source – from Italy and France to Moldova, in addition to the quality wines Welsh vineyards are now producing.

Commenting on the book upon its release in 2016, BBC Radio 1 DJ, Huw Stephens said: ‘As this success story grows, so too does its physical home, marking a new era for this proud Welsh institution. This book is a celebration of the story so far, and of the future and all that it holds.’

The annual Gourmand Awards ceremony will be held in Yantai, China during the 27th and 28th of May 2017 where Dylan and Llinos will be competing in their winning category against winners from other countries for the Best in the World.

Dylan and Llinos said, ‘Winning the British category of this prestigious award is very exciting. The feedback we have had about the book has been so positive, people really love the combination.’

‘We’re already visiting producers in Bordeaux and Rioja in February and March so we don’t think we can manage China in May for the awards but the prospect of now competing for the world’s best food and wine book is thrilling!’ they added.

Rarebit and Rioja – Recipes and Wine Tales from Wales by Dylan and Llinos Rowlands (£14.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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Family-friendly Recipes From a Welsh Cook


By AmeriCymru, 2016-11-18

A year’s worth of delicious recipes…



alunthebear.jpgThe cook Lisa Fearn will be launching her first recipe book Blas / Taste at Aberglasney Gardens on Wednesday, 23 November.

Blas / Taste contains over 90 delicious family-friendly recipes and is presented bilingually. The book also includes suggestions for activities to keep the children busy, creating home-made gifts, quick ideas and making the most of ingredients from the garden.

Lisa Fearn is a Carmarthen girl and a mother of five. She established a gardening and cookery school called The Pumpkin Patch in Allt y Gog Farm in Felin-wen, Carmarthenshire. By now, she has taught thousands of children to grow and cook their own food (she's taught a few parents too).

Lisa is a columnist with the Carmarthen Journal and a regular on Radio Wales and Radio Cymru. She is also a cook on the Prynhawn Da programme on S4C. Above all, Lisa has a great interest in the social power of food.

Lisa says “I love the outdoors, gardening and cooking. So, when our youngest reached school age, I took stock of what I knew and The Pumpkin Patch became a reality – a children’s cookery and gardening school teaching them how to grow and cook their own food. Within months the school was fully booked, and I started sharing our family-friendly recipes with people.

“Blas • Taste is full of our favourite ‘go to’ recipes at Allt y Gog Farm. They are the recipes that I hope my children will use when they leave home – Mum’s favourites. No fuss; easy meals and snacks that flavour the seasons and the year’s celebrations with the family. So invite everybody round to taste!”

Blas/Taste is a perfect gift this Christmas and is now available from your local bookshop or directly from Gomer Press on ww.gomer.co.uk / 01559 363092.

Lisa Fearn will launch the book at Aberglasney Gardens on Wednesday, 23 November at 7pm.

Lisa will also be signing copies of the book at:

Peppercorn, Llandeilo on Friday, 18 November, 1.30pm

The Royal Welsh Winter Fair, Llanelwedd, 28 November, 11am on the Siop Inc stand and midday on the Merlin’s Hill stand

Aberglasney Winter Fair, 2 December 2pm & 4 December, 2pm

The National Library of Wales, 8 December at 5pm.

Bibliographic details

Blas / Taste, Lisa Fearn, Photographs by Aled Llywelyn

ISBN 9781785621741, hardback, 248 pages

£14.99, Published by Gomer Press






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Blwyddyn gron o ryseitiau blasus…




Bydd y cogydd Lisa Fearn yn lansio ei chyfrol goginio gyntaf, Blas / Taste yng ngerddi Aberglasney nos Fercher, 23 Tachwedd.

Mae Blas / Taste yn cynnwys dros 90 o ryseitiau dwyieithog sy’n tynnu dŵr i’r dannedd. Yn ogystal mae’n cynnwys awgrymiadau

am weithgareddau i gadw’r plant yn brysur, creu anrhegion cartref, syniadau sydyn yn y gegin a gwneud y mwyaf o’r cynnyrch sy’n ffres o’r ardd.

Merch o Gaerfyrddin yw Lisa Fearn ac mae’n fam i bump o blant. Sefydlodd ysgol arddio a choginio boblogaidd i blant, sef The

Pumpkin Patch ar Fferm Allt y Gog yn Felin-wen, Sir Gaerfyrddin.

Erbyn hyn, mae hi wedi dysgu miloedd o blant i dyfu a choginio eu bwyd eu hunain (ac wedi dysgu ambell riant hefyd!).

Mae Lisa’n golofnydd gyda’r Carmarthen Journal. Mae hi’n westai cyson ar Radio Cymru a Radio Wales, ac yn gogydd ar raglen Prynhawn Da, S4C, hefyd. Uwchlaw popeth, mae gan Lisa ddiddordeb mawr ym mhŵer cymdeithasol bwyd.

Meddai Lisa “Rwy’n dwlu ar y byd tu fas ac ar arddio a choginio. Felly, pan ddechreuodd y cyw melyn ola yn yr ysgol, cymerais stoc o’r hyn roeddwn i’n gyfarwydd ag e. Ac felly y daeth The Pumpkin Patch i fodolaeth – ysgol goginio a garddio i blant, yn eu dysgu sut i dyfu a choginio’u bwyd eu hunain. O fewn misoedd, roedd yr ysgol yn llawn, a dechreuais rannu ein ryseitiau teulu-gyfeillgar â phobl eraill.”

“Mae Blas / Taste yn llawn o’n hoff ryseitiau ni yn Fferm Allt y Gog. Dyma’r ryseitiau rwy’n gobeithio y bydd fy mhlant yn eu defnyddio pan fyddan nhw’n gadael y nyth – ffefrynnau Mam.”

“Dim ffws - prydau a byrbrydau hawdd sy’n rhoi blas ar bob dim yn ei dymor ac yn ddathliad o flwyddyn gron gyda’r teulu a ffrindiau. Rhowch wahoddiad i bawb ddod draw i gael blas ar bethau!”

Mae Blas / Taste yn anrheg Nadolig delfrydol ac ar gael yn eich siop lyfrau leol am £14.99 neu’n

uniongyrchol oddi wrth wasg Gomer ar www.gomer.co.uk / 01559 363092.

Bydd Lisa Fearn yn lansio’r gyfrol yng ngerddi Aberglasney nos Fercher, 23 Tachwedd am 7 o’r gloch.

Bydd hi hefyd yn llofnodi copïau o’r llyfr yn:

Siop Peppercorn, Llandeilo, 18 Tachwedd am 1.30 o’r gloch

Y Ffair Aeaf, Llanelwedd, 28 Tachwedd, 11 o'r gloch ar stondin Siop Inc a 12 ar stondin Bryn Myrddin

Ffair Aeaf Aberglasney, 2 Rhagfyr, 2 o’r gloch a 4 Rhagfyr, 2 o’r gloch

Y Llyfrgell Genedlaethol, 8 Rhagfyr am 5 o’r gloch.

Manylion llyfryddol

Blas / Taste, Lisa Fearn, Ffotograffau Aled Llywelyn

ISBN 9781785621741, clawr caled, 248 tudalen,

£14.99, Gwasg Gomer

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Y LOLFA FOUNDER PUBLISHES PRIVATE DIARIES


By AmeriCymru, 2016-11-08

alunthebear.jpgRobat Gruffudd, the founder of Y Lolfa publishers and co-founder of Lol magazine, reveals all in private diaries written over the last fifty years that are published for the first time ever this week.

Lolian is a collection of ‘eccentric and too honest’ diaries that Robat Gruffudd kept since the sixties. It contains a mixture of humours ancedotes, provoking comments and memories about the twists and turns working in the pubilshing industry and meetings with authors and beyond in Wales and in bars on the continent. As a language campaigner since his early years, Robat goes into detail about his work with Cymdeithas yr Iaith, Cymuned, Dyfodol i'r Iaith – and a campaign where he refused to speak English. Also discussed are the Trefechan bridge protest and the campaign to establish a daily Welsh newspaper, Y Byd.

The diaries include response to events and an ‘unofficial’ yet original portrait of life in Wales over the last fifty years.

His Jewish and German background is also illustrated – as well as the prosecution suffered by his family in Germany, which was the basis of the successful book written by his brother Heini, A Haven from Hitler, which won Book of the Year (as Yr Erlid).

‘There are funny stories about plenty of people here and that’s what I’m afraid of! What will they say when they see their names in print? But the diary form asks for complete honesty,’ says Robat, ‘If you’re not honest then what’s the point? Although I may leave the country for a month or two after publication!’

But Robat Gruffudd says he never intended to publish the book originally.

‘These are personal diaries that I kept for my own amusement’ he explains, ‘I never intended for anyone else to see them. Unfortunatley, I gave in and this is the result’.

The diaries are published before the 50th anniversary of Y Lolfa which will be celebrated next year. The book delves into the publishing world but Robat emphasises that this is not an autobiography nor the history of Y Lolfa per se.

‘We will be celebrating Y Lolfa’s birthday soon. Watch this space for news of a big party and a range of other events!’ says Robat.

The book is launched officially on Friday the 25th of November at 8pm at the Llew Du (Black Lion) in Talybont. The academic Simon Brooks will be in conversation with the author followed by live music from Tecwyn Ifan.

‘I will be gone after the event!’ says Robat, ‘before people get a chance to read the book!’

Lolian by Robat Gruffudd (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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alunthebear.jpgWelsh football fans have come together to celebrate the success of the Welsh football team at the Euros in a new book that is published this week.

Merci Cymru is a collection of essays and articles to celebrate and remember the Wales football team’s success this year. The book was written by fans, commentators and some of the game’s biggest names including Dylan Ebenezer, the former player and academic Laura McAllister and poets Aled Gwyn and Rhys Iorwerth.

The book depicts the buzz in the games, on the streets, in the fanzones, on the couch and in the pubs and offers a very vivid impression of a very special time in the history of Welsh football.

The volume was edited by the author and jouranlist Tim Hartley and includes contributions from Tim himself as well as his son Rhys who also plays for the supporters’ team.

‘This book is a record. A record of events that some of us never imagined we would experience in our lifetime.’ said Tim Hartley, ‘But the fact remains, the Wales football team played in the finals of an international tournament.’

‘It is thanks to the effort of a small group of footballers from a small nation – and in the eyes of many people before this feat – an insignificant nation. They say ‘its only a game’ – but no. They also say that the journey itself and not the arrival is what matters in life. Not this time’ added Tim.

The book will be launched in a special event to celebrate the Wales team’s success at Chapter centre in Cardiff at 7pm on the 11th of November before the game against Serbia.

Merci Cymru (£7.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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5 Welsh Crime Writers


By Ceri Shaw, 2016-09-20

Back to Welsh Literature page >


With Autumn closing in what better way pass the time than with a good book? For aficianados of crime fiction a good murder story is the ideal for whiling away the dark evening hours.  Check out our selection of Welsh crime writers from Canada, the USA, Europe and Wales itself. Happy reading! :)


Andrew Peters


Andrew Peters in blue suit

AmeriCymru spoke to Welsh crime fiction writer and roving guitarist Andrew Peters:-

"I was born in beautiful Barry on June 21st many years ago. That''s the longest day of the year ("Bloody felt like it too" Mrs GE Peters) so I have always yearned for the sun. After looking for it in vain in the UK, I toured the world as a guitarist and finally settled in Spain in 2004."

Read our Interview with Peter here

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Stephen Puleston


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AmeriCymru: Hi Stephen and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. What was the first thing you wrote and what attracted you to crime fiction writing?

Stephen: My first thing attempt at writing seriously was a general fiction novel. And my second novel was a political thriller based in London and Wales in the pre-devolution era. Luckily neither ever generated any interest from agents or publishers.

Read our Interview with Stephen here

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Delphine Richards


Delphine Richards

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The Seedy Side Of Life In Rural Wales

''A friend is a good egg, even if they are slightly cracked - blessed are the cracked for they shall let in the light''

Read our Interview with Delphine here...

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Rhys Bowen



Rhys Bowen is the award winning writer of the Constable Evans mysteries set in the Snowdonia Mountains of Wales. Apart from the Constable Evans series, Rhys has written many other novels and children's books, including many best-selling titles. She has also written some historical sagas and TV tie-ins. She currently resides in California and spends her winters in Arizona. AmeriCymru spoke to her about her work and future plans.

Read our Interview with Rhys here

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Cathy Ace


Welsh crime writer Cathy Ace

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Cathy Ace was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales, worked for decades in marketing communications, and migrated to Canada in 2000. Bestselling author Ace is the 2015 winner of the Bony Blithe Award for Best Canadian Light Mystery (for The Corpse with the Platinum Hair). AmeriCymru spoke to Cathy about her life and writing.

Read our Interview with Cathy here

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Travel writer John Harrison among longlist of nine for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2016: University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing

New Welsh Review, in association with the University of South Wales and CADCentre, is delighted to announce the longlist of nine travel nonfiction essays for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2016: University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing. Both new and established writers based in Wales, England and Ireland are in the running for the top prize including the award-winning travel writer John Harrison.

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.

Gwen Davies, editor of New Welsh Review said: ‘This prize has gone from strength to strength in its second year with an increased number of entries and an excellent standard of writing. Branching out from our previous theme of nature, this year’s longlist of travel nonfiction sees a move towards the political.’

Virginia Astley (Dorchester, England) Keeping the River

Evan Costigan (Kildare, Ireland) West Under a Blue Sky

Hannah Garrard (Norwich, England) No Situation is Permanent

John Harrison (London, England) The Rains of Titikaka

Gerald Hewitson (Holyhead, Wales) Oh my America

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

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

Karen Phillips (Pembrokeshire, Wales) Stranger Shores

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

Davies continues: ‘Such essays follow the progress of a pioneering school from its refugee-camp origins in Ghana; a Nigerian domestic scene where subtle and interdependent racial and class issues are seething under a tight lid; the rise and fall of the pre-Columbian city of Tiwanaku in Bolivia and the underground (and underwater) currents of Mayan culture in the Yucatan, Mexico. In gentler pastures, meanwhile, language, geography, history, culture, religion and philosophy are given room to reflect in pieces that champion the humble Thames-side lock-keeper, the etiquette of the Trans-Siberian station pitstop; silence and spirituality on a Pennsylvanian Quaker residency, and the highs and lows of the grand narrative on trek through the Pyrenees.’

For more information about the long listed writers please visit the website here: http://www.newwelshwritingawards.com/longlist-1/

The shortlist will be announced at an event at Hay Festival on 1 June 2016 (3-4pm) and the winner at a ceremony at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff on 7 July 2016 (6-8pm).

First prize is £1,000 cash, e-publication by New Welsh Review on their New Welsh Rarebyte imprint in 2016, a positive critique by leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at WME, as well as lunch with her in London. 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. In addition New Welsh Review will consider the highly commended and shortlisted nominees for publication in a forthcoming edition of its creative magazine New Welsh Reader with an associated standard fee.

New Welsh Review have today also launched their Best Travel Book Poll inviting readers around the world to vote for their favourite all time travel book in the English language. A longlist of 20 titles have been selected by co-judges Gwen Davies and Rory MacLean with nominations from the students of the University of South Wales and librarians across Wales. The public can now vote for the shortlist and winner which will be revealed on 1 June and 7 July respectively.

For more information visit http://www.newwelshwritingawards.com/best-travel-book-poll/

www.newwelshwritingawards.com

#newwelshawards

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There are just two weeks left to enter the New Welsh Writing Awards 2016: University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing. The prize celebrates the best short form travel writing from writers based in the UK and Ireland and those based worldwide who have been educated in Wales. The word length is 5,000-30,000 and the closing date is midnight 3 April. Entry is free.

First Prize:

  
•  £1,000 cash, e-publication by New Welsh Review on their New Welsh Rarebyte imprint in 2016
•  a positive critique over lunch with leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at WME

Second Prize:

•  a weeklong residential course in 2016 of the winner’s choice at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre

Third prize:


•  a weekend stay at Gladstone’s Library

All three winners will also receive a one-year subscription to New Welsh Review. In addition New Welsh Review will consider the highly commended and shortlisted nominees for publication in a forthcoming edition of its creative magazine New Welsh Reader with an associated standard fee.

Find out more at http://www.newwelshwritingawards.com/ and you can watch our call for entries video here: https://vimeo.com/152185256
In addition to the writing prize, New Welsh Review is giving readers a chance to nominate their favourite travel books in their Best Travel Book Poll.

Find out more here: http://www.newwelshwritingawards.com/best-travel-book-poll/

To nominate your favourite travel book email us at marketing@newwelshreview, tweet us @NewWelshReview using the hashtag #NewWelshAwards or add a comment on Facebook.com/NewWelshReview. Deadline for nominations is midnight 3 April 2016.

We will reveal the longlist on 20 April and will be inviting the public to vote for the shortlist and winner which will be revealed on 1 June and 7 July respectively.

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New Welsh Review - Wales Foremost Literary Magazine



New Welsh Review was founded in 1988 as the successor to The Welsh Review (1939-1948), Dock Leaves and The Anglo Welsh Review (1949-1987) and is Wales’s foremost literary magazine in English, offering a vital outlet for the very best new fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry, a forum for critical debate, and a rigorous and engaged reviewing culture. New Welsh Review Ltd is supported through core funding by the Welsh Books Council and hosted by Aberystwyth University Department of English and Creative Writing. The magazine’s creative content was rebranded as New Welsh Reader in May 2015, with reviews moving entirely online.

AmeriCymru spoke to New Welsh Review/Reader editor, Gwen Davies about the re branding and the magazines future direction.



 



Gwen DaviesAmeriCymru: Hi Gwen, and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. What is the New Welsh Review? How would you describe its mission statement?

Gwen: New Welsh Review, is a literary and cultural magazine working across Wales with eleven publication dates in different formats including print, app, epub and online, through the media of text, photography, video, audio, graphic poetry and animation. This national magazine with international readership and horizons has contributors including Terry Eagleton, Michael Longley, Patricia Duncker, Stevie Smith, Jem Poster, Richard Gwyn, Rory MacLean and Tessa Hadley. Our USPs are that we publish newcomers alongside established writers, are highly professional, develop the work of students and emerging writers, and that we pay contributors. We rebranded in May 2015 to publish creative work and literary essays in the New Welsh Reader (print, app and epub formats), and to publish reviews and comment in the New Welsh Review (online only).

AmeriCymru: Where can American readers go to read more or subscribe?

https://www.newwelshreview.com/

https://www.newwelshreview.com/newsub.php

AmeriCymru: With regard to the recent name change / re branding...what is new in Welsh Reader? Has there been a change of focus?

Gwen: The emphasis, noted above, of creative work in New Welsh Reader, has been appreciated by readers who perhaps aren't so interested in reviews or like to get their reviews more quickly online. Our readers tell us that highlighting our creative work – poetry, creative nonfiction, short stories, novel previews, illustration, photography, graphic books and longer literary essays – in this way gives this type of work more status and room for contemplation, which print, in particular, favours. Publishing eight online supplements of reviews and comment allows us to respond more quickly to new books and topical issues without worrying about the production process. These supplements are published under the old umbrella, New Welsh Review. This move, of course, also saves money in a climate of public funding cuts.

AmeriCymru: What, for you are the highlights of the latest edition of New Welsh Reader?

Gwen: As it happens, am American contributor, Peter E Murphy www.murphywriting.com, whose essay is a fictionalised family memoir about  his family's connections to Wales. His father and grandfather, longshoremen Eddie and Teddy Murphy, were billeted together in Newport and Belgium during the Normandy landings. Teddy was a nasty piece of work and Eddie was a tall-tale-teller of the first order. Other highlights in our autumn edition are former British serving officer Daniel Jones' story about an Afghanistan posting, and newcomer Crystal Jeans' dirty urban story about how a mother's sexual fantasy of Bukowski propels her to seduce the local alcoholic tramp: 'I lean over to my knicker drawer and pull out a condom. Bukowski wouldn't use a condom. Or he would, but right at the end he'd yank it off, sink his d*** back in and say, "You can have my seed and like it, you w****.' But you can take something too far.'

AmeriCymru: What can you tell us about the New Welsh Writing Awards program. Are there any upcoming publication plans? What will be the theme for next year?

Gwen: To elaborate on the rebranding you mentioned above. We rebranded around the term 'New Welsh' since that encapsulates all our work, and we have further sub-brands of the New Welsh Writing Awards which this year ran under the banner of writing for nature and the environment and was sponsored by WWF Cymru with further support from CADCentre (a software company working with early school leavers) and writing centres Ty Newydd and Gladstone's Library in north Wales.

The Awards' USP is that it celebrates essays or books of at least 10,000 words and part of the prize is publication in Kindle ebook form. Our fourth brand is New Welsh Rarebyte which is our new ebook imprint and publishes the winner of our writing award, this year (publishing on 15 October) 26-year old Eluned Gramich's Woman Who Brings the Rain, A Memoir of Hokkaido, Japan. It's available for pre-order internationally here as a Kindle ebook via Amazon. We are currently seeking sponsors to run next year's Awards, either from commerce or from education as we are looking into the possibility of combining work on the Awards with a university placement programme that would give experience to students, either with a literature background or in business or marketing, to work on a large event such as running a prize and ceremony. We hope that we will get enough funding next year to run an extra category, so that would be nature and the environment as before plus memoir. The prize should interest expats with a Welsh connection as our Terms & Conditions welcome international entries by people who were born in Wales or educated here.


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

Gwen: The publishing climate for journalism is very hard as we are hit five times over by the change in reading patterns caused by the internet, ie people accessing free stuff; writers having become willing to publish their work for free, thus undermining their own value and that of  curated publications who see payment as part of the professional service they offer; the democratisation of the internet which, despite its many positive points does undermine the old hierarchy of choice and curation which publishers offer; the feedback and sense of community offered to writers by social media which used to be provided by magazines and authors' societies, and, finally, the current British austerity climate which has led to public funding cuts in the arts as elsewhere. We really do feel, in respect of our current mix of subscriber-exclusive and free-to-view content, that we are sucking it and seeing. We don't know how things will develop, how much will people pay to read in future in a world in which originally only very few of the big newspapers opted for the paywall model.

At New Welsh Review, however, we have been working creatively to track down alternative funding sources. Mainly this has been with the institution in which we are physically housed, our host and sponsor Aberystwyth University, to create a student work placement scheme producing a multimedia programme that provides us with audio and visual features, clips, reviews, interviews and creative showcases that exercise the students' skills in research, presentation, camerawork, editing, performed reading, animation, graphics, getting on with authors and working as a team as well as being responsive to an editor's demands and real-time deadlines. This relationship gives us a home and allows us to pay and develop the skills of a greater range of contributor. For the university, it ticks their employability boxes. To AmeriCymru I would humbly ask: does anyone want to sponsor an exciting Awards scheme and/or work with us to replicate our student placement model over the pond? Last year, during the Dylan Thomas centenary, many Americans learned of or visited the many beautiful west Wales locations associated with the poet. In Aberystwyth we are just down the coast from Laugharne and New Quay. If you would like to sponsor or develop any of the ideas outlined above to further strengthen the links of Wales and the US, and to put our mutual traditions of great writing on both our maps, contact me at editor[at]newwelshreview.com.


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 War theme for autumn edition of New Welsh Reader




New Welsh Review was founded in 1988 as the successor to The Welsh Review (1939-1948), Dock Leaves and The Anglo Welsh Review (1949-1987) and is Wales’s foremost literary magazine in English, offering a vital outlet for the very best new fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry, a forum for critical debate, and a rigorous and engaged reviewing culture. New Welsh Review Ltd is supported through core funding by the Welsh Books Council and hosted by Aberystwyth University Department of English and Creative Writing. The magazine’s creative content was rebranded as New Welsh Reader in May 2015, with reviews moving entirely online.


 


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BOOKS BY JO MAZELIS        JO MAZELIS INTERVIEW

Mechanics by Jo MazelisAn excerpt from ''Mechanics'' - an original short story by Jo Mazelis, appearing in eto 3 due for publication, early March 2017.



Charlotte had the advantage of a free right hand, while Georgina had to either struggle with her left hand, or use her right, but first she had to wriggle to free it from the press of her sister’s body which ruined the effect of their unusual appearance. This was how their mother had instructed them to do everyday things; as if they were a single entity with only two arms, but four legs and two heads. They had also been trained to speak as one, saying in perfect chorus, ‘Hello, how do you do? I do believe that the weather is improving, don’t you think?’ In order to make these seemingly spontaneous and simultaneous speeches they had rehearsed multiple variations along with a series of subtle gestures that communicated which phrase should be uttered. It was Georgina who usually took the lead in these transactions with the world, but Charlotte could at times be singular in transmitting different choices that made for bizarre conversation. For example, only days before the leader of the local town’s council chamber had asked the girls if they enjoyed the rolling hills and lush pastures of that part of Wales, Georgiana twirling a finger through a glossy ringlet, signalled that they should say, ‘Why, thank you kind sir, everything has pleased us greatly!’ But Charlotte had petulantly (as much as sneezing can be petulant) sneezed three times, which was the code for, ‘Our dear mother wept bitterly over it and cannot be consoled!’ Georgina sensing the comedy in this answer took a deep breath before they spoke the words in unison together. The council leader was taken aback, ‘Is she an invalid?’ he asked. To which the girls replied, somewhat mysteriously, ‘It is said there are two ways to milk a cow.’ After that they took their leave with haste as both were stifling a great fit of the giggles as the poor man tried on such a variety of expressions in quick succession in his confusion and grew redder and redder in the face until they thought he might suffer an apoplexy.

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PENfro-Book-Fair

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PENfro Book Festival

Thursday 12th - Sunday 15th September, Rhosygilwen

The PENfro Book Festival is an annual event celebrating the quality and diversity of writing in Wales today, recognising the contribution of local publishers and booksellers, and encouraging more people to enjoy the wealth of books Wales offers....Read More

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AmeriCymru:  Hi Derek and many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by AmeriCymru. Care to tell us a little about the history and background of the Penfro Festival?

Derek:  This is the third year of the PENfro Book Festival. It was the brainchild of local author Brian John, who was Chair for the first two years. The intention then, as now, is to celebrate writing in Wales today, providing a platform for writers and encouraging the public to appreciate and enjoy the wealth of wonderful writing in the country. It was never designed to compete with the likes of the Hay Festival, but rather to have a smaller, more intimate feel: warm, welcoming and very friendly – very much in the spirit of Pembrokeshire!

For the first couple of years the festival was held over two days, but this year it has been extended to have two evening performances in addition. A programme of writers’ workshops was introduced in 2012 and this is now an integral part of the festival.

AmeriCymru:  Who will beSamantha Wynne Rhydderch appearing at this years event? What are the main attractions?

Derek: This year the festival begins with a concert on Thursday 12th September – Hungarian Dance: the Concert of the Novel.  Having played to rave reviews, the concert features Jesscia Duchen reading extracts from her bestselling novel accompanied by the music which inspired it. It promises to be a unique experience and one not to be missed.

Friday evening is a poetry evening hosted by local poetry group, the Cellar Bards – together with three other groups, Red Heron, the PENfro Poets and Haiku and Hipflasks.  The winners of the first PENfro Poetry competition will also be announced by guest judge Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, and the evening features a performance by poet Tim Wells.

During the day on Saturday, there are a number of Writers’ Workshops covering subjects including ‘getting started’; poetry; using new media; biography; freelance journalism and screenwriting.

We also have a couple of events for children held at Small World theatre in Cardigan. Award-winning storyteller, Daniel Morden will be telling tales from the Odyssey and there is a special Children’s Circus workshop at lunchtime with a performance in the afternoon.

We are enormously proud to have for our Saturday evening event not only the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, but the National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke! This is a tremendous coup for the festival and will I’m sure ensure PENfro a place on the literary map.

Sunday is a full day of events starting in the morning with Peter Lord discussing his new book, Relationships with Pictures, describing, using fifteen pictures, the evolution of his own sense of self.

That’s followed by Jim Perrin and Mark Charlton.  Jim is best known as a rock climber and prize winning travel writer, but he has debut book of short stories A Snow Goose about to be published.  He will be in conversation with Mark Charlton author of Counting Steps.

Swansea born Amy Dillwyn was a remarkable woman and novelist.  Considered to be an eccentric with unorthodox and iconoclastic views, she published six novels, as well as being a regular, though anonymous, reviewer for the Spectator. And she’s the subject of an event with Dr Kirsti Bohata who discusses Dillwyn  and her classic novel, Jill in conversation with Janet Thomas.

Then there’s a Welsh language event with Grahame Davies in conversation with Ceri Wyn on Alcemi Dŵr – The Alchemy Of Water – an illustrated book about Welsh lakes, rivers, shorelines and waterfalls, featuring the poems of Grahame Davies and Tony Curtis and the photographs of Mari Owen and Carl Ryan.

Daniel Morden makes a reappearance with his Dark Tales from the Woods, for which he won the Tir na n-Og Award . His latest publication is Tree of Leaf and Flame, published by Pont Books in 2012 which also won the Tir na n-Og Award. His stories are broadcast regularly on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Choice TV.

Then, at lunchtime, we have three local authors talking about their books in our Meet the Authors spot: Liz Whittaker''s book The Bardic Monk tells the tale of how Henry II of England, in thrall to tales of King Arthur, travels to a remote corner of Wales to meet with a shrouded monk of no name.  Pembrokeshire, often referred to as ''Gwlad yr Hud'' (the Enchanted Land), is home to a rich and diverse collection of tales; and in Pembrokeshire Folk Tales Christine Willison has gathered many of these tales together in an enchanting book. Glen Peter''s latest novel The Lucknow Ransom again features beautiful widow Joan D''Silva with a cast of colourful characters inspired by Glen''s youth in the dwindling Anglo-Indian community.

After lunch there’s a choice of events. In ‘What Makes a Good Read’,New York Times best-selling author  Paula Brackston, Francesca Rhydderch and Katherine Stansfield discuss their latest books in conversation with Richard Davies. While author/illustrator Jackie Morris will talk about and read from the latest book that she has written and illustrated called Song of the Golden Hare.

Finally, wrapping up the day, we have The Pembrokeshire Murders –the story of Operation Ottawa, the cold case detection of John Cooper for two Pembrokeshire double killings – with Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Wilkins and ITV News reporter Jonathan Hill.

And Lucy Gannpn  - one of the UK''s leading TV screenwriters talks about her career and writing for television with Susanna Capon. Lucy''s credits include the new series of Frankie, Soldier Soldier, Branwell, Lewis and the award winning The Best of Men.

All day on Sunday, we also have our trade fair with up to 30 stalls – booksellers, publishers, authors and others offering an enormous variety of books and other related items. A great place to browse where you’re sure to find something of interest.  While next door, in the Orangery, you can have a snack, a cup of tea or coffee, or a full lunch.

Rhosygilwen-house-and-statueRhosygilwen house and statue



AmeriCymru:  Can you tell us something about the venue?

Derek:  The festival is held in the spacious grounds of Rhosygilwen – a beautiful stone built mansion built in Gothic style with magnificent gardens.  Many of the events are held in the house’s large Conservatory with others in the lovely spacious octagonal summerhouse.  The major events and the trade fair are held in the superb Oak Hall with its exquisite hammer beam roof and wonderful light.

AmeriCymru:  What are your plans for the future of the Festival? How do you see it developing in years to come?

Derek:  The festival I think has now started to establish itself well as part of the Welsh literary scene, but I hope that we appeal to the man and woman in the street just as much. I certainly don’t want the festival to be in any way elitist, but to add to the enormous joy which people can get from books – and books of all types and in all forms. Celebratory and fun, that’s what it should be!  We are already planning for next year and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has agreed to speak and read poetry in our Saturday evening slot.  So it’s all really very exciting.

AmeriCymru:  Where can readers go to purchase tickets for the event?

Derek:  Tickets for each event can be bought on the day or evening concerned, but some such as the Saturday evening event are selling fast, so best to book now!  They can be bought on line on the website: penfrobookfestival.org.uk.  There is a Festival Pass available for the Sunday too, which gives entry to all events all day for just £10.  Beat that for great value!

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This year is the 50th anniversary of the start of Dusty Springfield’s solo career. The iconic singer, who for millions was the definitive pop diva, launched her first solo hit record ‘I Only Want to Be With You’ in 1963. Celebrating this fact is a new play by Derek Webb called ‘Call Me Dusty’.

With Jessica Sandry in the title role, the play attempts to disentangle myth and facts, and begin to understand the very complex character who was Dusty Springfield. She was born Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien – a shy, chubby, Catholic convent girl. Her mother was Irish, her father an accountant, she was brought up in West London and from a child was in love with the cinema and music: longing to be an actress like June Haver or a singer like Peggy Lee.

In 1960 she became part of the very successful trio called The Springfields with her brother Tom and his friend Tim Field and together they were the first British group to succeed in a big way in America.

But by 1963 she had decided to go solo and the legend that was Dusty Springfield was truly born. Many times voted Best Female Singer, Dusty Springfield achieved enormous worldwide fame. Loving soul music, she was largely responsible for bringing Motown to the attention of a UK audience. A perfectionist who refused to compromise in the pursuit of the ultimate pop record, Dusty Springfield effectively was the producer on many of her recordings. And, while shy privately, she was often outspoken publicly. In 1964 she was one of the first to stand up against apartheid in South Africa and a few years later, she was to famously declare herself gay – something few would have dared to do at the time.

Despite the fame and success, however, Dusty’s personal life was full of drama and tragedy. Not only did she find her sexuality at odds with her Catholicism, but drugs and alcohol took their toll, and increasingly she began to self-harm.

'Call Me Dusty' explores the dichotomy of the quiet, shy private person and her alter ego with her extravagant black mascara and backcombed hair; while at the same time celebrating the music which still ranks amongst the best of its kind. Not for nothing is Dusty Springfield heralded as the finest white soul singer ever.

Jessica Sandry, who plays Dusty, is in the new series of Stella with Ruth Jones on Sky TV and her numerous stage appearances have included portraying another singing legend, Doris Day, in the acclaimed show Being Doris Day which toured nationally. Playing her manager Vic Billings and other characters is James Scannell whose stage credits include Romeo & Juliet, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Hamlet, A Christmas Carol, Romeo & Juliet, and Of Mice and Men. And playing Dusty’s secretary Pat Rhodes and other characters is Jayne Stillman, whose credits include Varya in The Cherry Orchard, Miss Ronberry in The Corn is Green and Emilia in Othello.

The play covers the time from when she first decided to reinvent herself as Dusty Springfield to a period in the early 1970s when she had seen the meteoric rise in her career begin to falter and decided to move to the US. Dusty herself in fact tried several times to reinvent herself, and achieved a reawakening in her fortunes and discovered a brand new fan base in the late 1980s when the Pet Shop Boys asked her to sing on the No 1 hit ‘What Have I Done to Deserve This?’. Dusty Springfield died of breast cancer in 1999 just short of her 60th birthday.

Call Me Dusty is produced by Ignition and plays at the Swansea Grand on September 11th and 12th before touring to Ammanford, Abertillery, Monmouth, Cwmbran, Barry, Newport, Cardigan, Milford Haven, Worcester and Llanelli.

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Pint-sized Plays Get Bigger Each Year


By AmeriCymru, 2013-07-29

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twins-stuart-crafton

The Pembrokeshire based, Pint-sized Plays competition is gearing up for its 2013 performances.   Once again, the number of entries in the competition exceeded previous years, with many more coming in from Australia, New Zealand and the US as well as Wales and the rest of the UK. 

The six winners and four runners up are now in rehearsal ready to be performed as part of the Tenby Festival.  Six pubs in Tenby will be hosting the plays over two nights,  Monday September 23rd and Tuesday September 24th. 

It is hoped that selected plays will also be performed in other pubs in the county too. And then, as in previous years, all ten plays will compete at 4U in Fishguard at the Pint-sized Plays Script Slam on September 28th, where the audience get to vote for their favourite script and there’s a ‘Pint Pot’ awarded to the winner and a half-pint for the runner up as well as prizes for the best performances.

This year there will be an additional ‘theatre’ performance at the Small World Theatre in Cardigan on October 5th.  Called Pint-sized World, this will feature all ten plays in one show with a bar and cabaret style seating.

Pint-sized Plays have begun publishing the plays too. The first volume, which has 20 plays from the first four years, has just been published and are available for other theatre companies to perform as well as being ideal for drama schools and colleges to use. Already some of the plays have been taken up.  One play, ‘In-Sex’, was performed at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival by a Brighton theatre company and a further six plays were performed by an Oxford company. Performances aren’t limited to the UK either. A successful New Zealand version of Pint-sized Plays began earlier in the year and plans another festival for 2014. Pembrokeshire-born Pint-sized Plays it seems just keep on growing! More information: info@pintsizedplays.org.uk



'' Twins'' by Stuart Crafton. The Winning Script in the 2012 Pint-sized Plays competition


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September sees the third annual PENfro Book Festival held at Rhosygilwen and this year it will run over four days, with two evenings of events before the weekend starts.

The festival begins with a special evening of music and spoken word on Thursday September 12th. ''Hungarian Dances: the concert of the novel'' promises to be an uplifting and memorable experience with author Jessica Duchen reading extracts from her international bestselling novel, accompanied by award-winning musicians David Le Page and Anthony Hewitt playing the Hungarian and Gypsy-influenced violin music that inspired it.  The concert featured to great acclaim on Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’.

Friday evening has local poets ‘The Cellar Bards’ and other local poetry groups joined by performance poet Tim Wells and the winners of the PENfro poetry competition together with the guest judge Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch.

There’s more poetry on Saturday evening with the Poet Laureate herself, Carol Ann Duffy together with the National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke, reading from their work. This is a real coup for the festival and will it is hoped really put PENfro on the literary map.

Gillian Clarke on Wikipedia  

During the day, once again there will be special workshops for writers, covering everything form screenwriting to poetry, writing biography to using new media, which are sure to be as enjoyable as they are stimulating. PENfro Chairman, Derek Webb, is pleased at the expanding nature of the festival.  “We’re aiming to have a good mix of events to attract everyone with any interest in books and to celebrate the amazing wealth and diversity of writing in Wales today.  Above all though we hope that PENfro will be seen as a fun festival with the warmth and welcome that we are so good at in Pembrokeshire.”

Sunday is the big day when there is a book fair with a wide variety of bookshops and other traders in Rhosygilwen’s magnificent Oak Hall together with readings, book launches, discussions and other events starting at 10.30 am.  Among the many diverse events are rock climber and prize winning travel writer Jim Perrin’s debut book of short stories, a discussion on the remarkable 19th century woman and novelist Amy Dillwyn, and Peter Lord on his new book 'Relationships with Pictures' which describes, using fifteen pictures, the evolution of his own sense of self.

There’s a Welsh language event with Grahame Davies talking about 'Alcemi Dwr/The Alchemy Of Water'– an illustrated book about Welsh lakes, rivers, shorelines and waterfalls. And there’s a good deal for children too.  World famous storyteller Daniel Morden will be telling tales from his award-winning book, 'Dark Tales from the Woods'. Throughout the day there’s a mystery game that children with their families can join in – searching for an elusive stolen ivory statue – with prizes for those who find it and catch the thief!

There will also be plenty of opportunities to meet local authors and hear about their books.  One such author is popular writer and illustrator Jackie Morris who has a new book out called 'Song of the Golden Hare'And, at the other end of the spectrum, Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Wilkins and ITV News reporter Steve Wilkins, will talk about their book 'The Pembrokeshire Murders' – the story of Operation Ottawa, the cold case detection of John Cooper for two double killings.

So what makes a good read? That’s the subject of a discussion between authors Paula Brackston, Francesca Rhydderch and Katherine Stansfield who will discuss their latest books in conversation with Richard Davies. And to wrap up the day, one of the UK''s leading TV screenwriters, Lucy Gannon will talk about her career and writing for television including the new series of Frankie, Soldier Soldier, Branwell, Lewis and the award winning The Best of Men.

The PENfro Book Festival 2013 is at Rhosygilwen, Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire from Thursday September 12th until Sunday September 15th.

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