By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2018-05-24

Mae patrymau dy glogwynau

yn adlewyrchu’r tonnau

dy daldra yn dalcen

uchel a syn

a haenau dy greigiau

fel blancedi lliwgar

wedi’u plygu a'u gosod

mewn cwpwrdd enfawr

anniben a hirymaros

rwyt ti’n croesawu’r morloi llwyd

i fewn i gysgod dy fae

sy hefyd yn gysur i ni

pan mae amser yn ein caniatau

ac mae’r byd dynol yn ormod

mae dy drysor

yn gemwaith lliwiau

seiniau a theimladau

anadliad y blaen llanw

sibrwd y glustog Fair

gwylanod yn pysgota

yng ngolau dyfriog

y wawr gynnar


The patterns of your cliffs

reflect the waves

your stature a

high and puzzled forehead

and the strata of your rocks

are like colourful blankets

that have been folded and placed

in an immense untidy

and long-suffering cupboard

you welcome the grey seals

into the shelter of your bay

that also gives us comfort

when time allows us

and the human world is too much

your treasure

is a jewellery of colours

sounds and feelings

the breathing of the high tide

the whisper of the thrift

gulls fishing in the watery light

of the early dawn

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

New novel series highlights Wales

By Barrie Doyle, 2018-05-22



Welsh legend highlights latest novel

Three hundred years before Christopher Columbus set foot in his family bathtub, a Prince of Wales gathered together a group of followers and sailed across the Atlantic to arrive in Mobile Bay, Alabama. Prince Madoc of Gwynedd’s legend began and is the heart of The Prince Madoc Secret, the third book in Midland area author Barrie Doyle’s highly rated series, The Oak Grove Conspiracies.

Previous books looked at the legend of King Arthur (The Excalibur Parchment) and the legend of the Spear of Destiny (The Lucifer Scroll). Barrie will be signing the newly-released novel at Georgian Bay Books in downtown Midland on Saturday, May 19 between 1 and 3 p.m. Other book signings across Canada are scheduled as is the North American Festival of Wales in Washington DC on the Labor Day weekend.

Legend says after arriving in Mobile Bay, Prince Madoc and his followers followed the American continent’s river systems and disappeared into the mists of history, leaving behind intriguing glimpses of their presence including stone villages modeled after Welsh towns, and stone fortresses such as those found in north-west Georgia found high on a promontory after the Welsh fashion and unlike anything the indigenous people had built before.

One of the more persistent stories described a Welsh-speaking tribe in the heart of the continent. It was a legend so strong and a story so believed that US President Thomas Jefferson made finding the tribe one of the mandates of the famed Lewis and Clarke Expedition. In the 1950’s, the Daughters of the American Revolution even placed a plaque commemorating Madoc’s landing, on one of the barrier islands at the mouth of Mobile Bay.

While each of the three novels is a stand-alone story, the same protagonists are the main thread between the books. From the valleys of South Wales to the famed Yns Mons/Anglesey and Snowdonia in the north, Wales is a featured setting. But the books travel beyond Wales to Venice, Istanbul, Washington and London as well as parts of the American West and the famed Georgian Bay area of Canada. The stories also roll across time, from a fourteenth-century Welsh abbey in the south, to twelfth-century Gwynnedd in the north, and to Constantinople, Jerusalem and Nazi Germany the stories whip readers on an exciting, nail-biting journey.

Reviewers and readers have compared Doyle’s books to Ken Follett, Tom Clancy and Steve Berry for their unique blending of history and legend into modern-day thrillers.  “It reads like an epic movie,” one reviewer for the UC Observer noted, while another with the radio program “Arts Connection” concluded, “this action-packed tale will leave you breathless and reading until the wee hours of the morning, wondering what happens next.”

The books are available from Chapters/Indigo in Canada and online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble (US) and Waterstones (UK) as well as independent bookstores across North America.




Contact:  Barrie Doyle,

T 705-533-0361; C 705-209-3137;




Sample reviews

The Prince Madoc Secret (May 2018)

I kept reading and telling myself, “okay, just half an hour more and then take a break”.  No breaks.    I really got pulled in.  I have found many authors have one or two good books in them, but they continue to write more. You, however have improved.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the first two, Madoc is clearly the best”.  




The Excalibur Parchment & The Lucifer Scroll

A delight to read. (Doyle’s) tale of the sword is convincing and realistic. It reads like an epic movie.

June Stevenson, fmr. editor United Church Observer



It’s a fun read, almost cinematic in scope with one accelerating scene after another. (There’s) rich atmosphere in the rough and tumble of the good guys, the Welsh monastery and the Welsh Valleys, and the lagoons of modern day Venice. Look forward to the sequel

Bruce Rogers, CBC Radio

What a great read! The plot is thick and surprising. I’m a picky reader and this one is as good as Tom Clancy!

Dr. Doug Davis, Eastern Illinois University


Barrie Doyle has woven a distant past with a very dangerous present. Mystery, adventure and sacrifice planted in ancient times causes a frightening modern conflict.  You’re going to enjoy this book. It is a fresh telling of one of the great myths of western culture.

 Coleman Luck, Hollywood Screenwriter, TV producer, (The Equalizer)

and author, (Angel Fall)


This action packed tale will leave you breathless and reading until the wee hours of the morning, wondering what happens next!

Robert White, host “Arts Connection” 103.3 FM


(It) reminds me of Ken Follett. Fast paced. Deep local colour, plausible characters and a unique story line. A satisfying and illuminating readd

Kirk Vanderzande, Toronto Today


“I’ve never read anything Arthurian, but we were given this book as a gift and read it aloud as a family. We were immediately swept into another world that we found absolutely irresistible. Each chapter left us craving for more, anxious for the next time we could imbibe in this feast of words. Written almost like a screenplay for a thriller, we loved all the rich colourful details that transported us from one epic scene to another. The second book is on our Christmas list, and we can hardly wait. This book, and likely the rest in the series, must certainly be made into movies.


Josh Tiessen, artist



"The reader hops from country to country in a nail-biting drama that pulls back the curtain on the little-known historical facts surrounding one of Hitler’s obsessions. Here, fact is more intriguing than fiction and makes The Lucifer Scroll one of those books you can’t put down. I keep waiting for the militia to come to the rescue of the weak and end the tension but it goes on. I sense a parallel to the events of history today. Perhaps the sequel will tell all or leave me wondering."


Lloyd Knight, Roundtable Assoc.

I have just read Barrie Doyle's latest book The Lucifer Scroll. It is excellent. moves fast and never drags. It is a follow on to The Excalibur Parchment, another excellent book. The Lucifer Scroll is about a conflict between Druids who follow ancient practices and traditions, and the Christian Church and Christian beliefs. The story is action backed with narrow escapes and intrigue. It moves rapidly between America, Canada, Turkey, Germany, Austria, Wales and England. I highly recommend both books to those interested in mysteries involving ancient history, especially the history of England and Wales.

Gwenith Cosgrove,

Great Plains Welsh Heritage Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska


The reader hops from country to country in a nail-biting drama that pulls back the curtain on the little-known historical facts surrounding one of Hitler’s obsessions. Here, fact is more intriguing than fiction and makes The Lucifer Scroll one of those books you can’t put down. I keep waiting for the militia to come to the rescue of the weak and end the tension but it goes on.  I sense a parallel to the events of history today. Perhaps the sequel will tell all or leave me wondering."

 Sandra White



What a great story! Now I am anxious to read the "Lucifer" book and was delighted to get "Madoc" already.  Thank you.


You are a creative, interesting writer!  What a lot of research that must have taken, too.  Will we meet Stone and Mandy again?


Amy Farrell

Gulf Coast Welsh Society, Sarasota, Florida






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A post currently going the rounds on Twitter and Facebook references an article in the Independent which quotes this old Welsh phrase approvingly. To read the article go here:-

A passion for the poetry of nature: writer Robert Macfarlane is on a quest to reconnect children with the outdoors

We have all been told at some point that we need to calm down, relax and take a walk in the woods. This old Welsh phrase captures that sentiment perfectly.

Dwi wedi dod yn ôl at fy nghoed. = I have returned to my senses/regained my mental equilibrium.

Literally: I have come back to my tree/s.

Clearly, these boys in Llanelwedd School, Builth Wells needed to chill before they entered the classroom!

dod_ yn_ l_ at_ fy_ nghoed.jpg

Posted in: Cymraeg | 0 comments


Hi Krystal and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Care to tell us a little about your winning entry 'Rice Paper Dreams' (link) in this year's WCE Short Story Competition?

Krystal: Rice Paper Dreams at its heart is a story about a young girl reuniting with her father. It looks into expectations and unfulfilled dreams, as well as the complicated nature of family relationships, and how they change over time.

How did you come up with the idea for the story?

Krystal: Almost a third character in itself is the setting–the Kyoto Railway Museum. My sister has always been fascinated by trains, so this past summer when we visited Kyoto, we had to make a stop at the museum. It was raining that day, on a Monday, so there were very few visitors when we arrived. It was only the true train fanatics and diehards perusing the exhibits. I remember seeing a little boy with his father, and what struck me was the way the father so excitedly explained to the boy how the gears operated in the trains. It was clear that he loved his son, that his dreams for him were big. I remember wondering how his son would grow up; would he take on those expectations, would he stray apart from them? Would he grow to understand his father, to resent him? And how would the father perceive the past–these trips to the museum? Family relationships are a tricky thing–there are so many unspoken rules, unsaid truths. In the same way, Mariko believes she has changed, believes she can control her new shiny image, but inevitably, the façade cracks. Her father too, tries his best, but new things–and old things–come to light in one simple conversation. I love the juxtaposition of the irreverent, ancient trains with the young, earnest father-daughter duo. The way people, so volatile, change every day, while trains move around us, speeding by yet ever constant. To me, that feels equal parts ironic and wonderful.

Your work is influenced by your 'experience growing up as a second-generation immigrant in America'. This is a theme that will resonate with many of our readers. How important do you think it is to examine your ancestry and stay in touch with your roots?

Krystal: How else could I answer this question? It is important to examine ancestry and stay in touch with one’s roots, but of course this looks different for every individual. Even as someone who has only seen a small sample of the Asian diaspora, I know no two experiences look the same. So who am I to press my story onto another, to claim that the way I search for “my roots” is the way another reader will find theirs? All I can say is that stories hold power: the stories my family pass on to me are the stories I will hold on to for the years to come–to understand them by, to remember them by.

What initially attracted you to writing short stories?

Krystal: Often, I find small snippets in everyday life that intrigue me, and the ones that I come back to time and time again are often the ones worth writing. I like the idea of documenting a stray thought in time or space, without devoting a huge effort to it as in novel writing. In novels, writers are ambitious–incorporating sweeping plotlines or world-changing theories and ideas. Short stories in contrast, are simply about capturing essence. A feeling, a character, or a moment in time, like an insect frozen in amber.

As a side note, I think short stories are one of the best ways to improve craft. Their constraints in size are what allow you to play around with form or genre. I would say that while I write novels for others–to entertain, to question–my short stories are primarily for myself, in an educational sense. I write to develop voice and style, learning about what works, and what does not.

One of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami, once said that he finds writing novels a challenge, writing short stories a joy. The way I interpret that, in order to write novels, you have to fall in love with your characters, fleshing them out into three-dimensional, fully realized beings. If writing novels is like moving in, then writing short stories is more like dating. You meet these people for the first time, and you stay on their good side. They intrigue you, entertain you. They’re worth a quick snapshot, but you don't have to get into fights over the deep stuff. In this manner, I agree with Murakami in that a good balance of novels and short stories is helpful for almost any writer.

Do you have a regular process in creating a story or does it vary from piece to piece? Do you plan your stories or do ideas crowd out and you pick one to finish?

Krystal: As a student, my life and routine change constantly, likewise, the ways I arrive at new ideas also change constantly. When I was traveling in Japan this summer, every day felt like sensory overload: so many new sights, new sounds, new people to learn from. That kind of lifestyle isn’t sustainable, but for short periods of time it’s really quite invigorating, especially for creators. I found the framework and scheme for “Rice Paper Dreams” after visiting the Kyoto Railway Museum, but the initial idea was actually first sparked by a solitary image found a few days earlier: a lonely umbrella, forgotten by its companion. I was riding the bus back to Sasazuka, a residential district in Tokyo, when I saw the umbrella, jolting along with every bump on the road. For some reason it struck me as very sad, that umbrella, and the image stayed with me until Mariko’s story aligned with it, and then the two merged. Little images like that, which could mean nothing one day and then everything the next, are often the catalyst for small and big projects alike.

As for the novel I’m currently querying, the idea came from a dream, or at least, the moment before sleeping or waking–I’m can’t remember which. Sometimes the ideas are from dreams, from faces, from memories, and sometimes they’re from less romantic sources. Sometimes it’s because you hear something on the news, and it just makes you so angry. What can you do? You’re only a powerless girl with a pen. So you pick it up, and hope to make someone else feel something. Above all else, I hope to make others feel, question.

What's next for Krystal Song? Are you considering any publications?

Krystal: I am; nothing official as of yet, but hopefully I’ll have more news in the future.

Any final message for the members and readers of AmeriCymru?

Krystal: Keep writing! If you enjoy writing your story, chances are, someone out there will enjoy reading. J

Posted in: Writing | 0 comments


Today, BBC Cymru Wales and Arts Council of Wales are excited to announce the names of twelve acts selected from across Wales to be part of the Horizons in 2018. 

Horizons is a unique showcase of new, independent contemporary music in Wales, supporting and promoting emerging Welsh music talent to wider audiences. Nearly 300 artists applied for a place on the project, which is now in its fourth year. 

A diverse list of a dozen of the finest emerging acts from across Wales, this year’s Horizons intake is notable for featuring strong, unique female musicians with 10 of the 12 made up of female solo artists and acts featuring female members. All 12 artists have a unique contemporary sound covering musical genres from indie, reggae, rock, folk and blues. 

The Horizons project will be bringing music to many festivals over summer 2018 starting with a launch show at this year’s  BBC Music’s Biggest Weekend Fringe Festival in Swanseawhere Huw Stephens will showcase some of the acts live on BBC Radio Cymru. Tickets for the showcase are available from the Horizons website (link below). 

The twelve selected Horizons artists are: 

Adwaith Carmarthen trio craft brilliant bilingual songwriting; their recent single ‘Fel i Fod’ has been streamed over 100,000 times on Spotify. 

Aleighcia Scott Cardiff based reggae singer with a unique style and vocals whose wowed crowds in Wales, UK and Jamaica. 

Alffa  An exciting teenage two piece rock n roll band from Llanrug who are inspired by the blues. 

Campfire Social A Llangollen collective whose exquisite knack for vocal harmonies and catchy instrumental textures earned them a slot at a Korean festival with Focus Wales last year. 

CHROMA  Fearsome Pontypridd rock trio led by Katie Hall, one of the most charismatic frontwomen Wales has produced in quite some time and a band BBC Introducing booked for Reading and Leeds last summer. 

Eadyth A unique young Welsh language electronic producer from Merthyr,  whose futuristic and empowering sound is influenced by urban, soul and electro. 

Himalayas An incendiary rock four-piece from Cardiff, they have been delighting crowds at This Feeling gigs across the UK, and showcased at SXSW for BBC Introducing this March. 

I See Rivers  A Tenby adopted female trio hailing originally from Norway crafting their own brand of awe-inspiring float folk. Through a studio in West Wales they found themselves drawn to and embraced by Wales. 

Marged Welsh language cutting-edge pop star with evocative vocals and lyrics that chart self-discovery, she recently supported Katie B at a secret London show. 

Nia Wyn  An incredible voice and songwriting talent from Conwy whose work encompasses folk, country and pop she recently worked with Paul Weller on new songs. 

No Good Boyo Cwmbran four-piece whose rousing celtic folk-inspired sound has delighted crowds at the National Eisteddfod of Wales and Lorient Festival, France. 

The Pitchforks A young Tonypandy band whose floor-filling indie rock sound made them one of Radio One’s Huw Stephens’s ‘Ones to watch for 2018.’  

The 12 artists will be offered a platform at events across Wales and on BBC Wales’ national radio services - BBC Radio Cymru and BBC Radio Wales. 

Horizons acts were selected by a panel of experts from within the partnership and the wider music sector. Panel included Bethan Elfyn (BBC Wales), Aeron Roberts (ACW), Joe Frankland (PRSF), Eluned Haf (Wales Arts International), Dwynwen Morgan (BBC Radio Cymru), Dan Potts (BBC Radio Wales), Helen Weatherhead (BBC 6Music), Rachel K Collier (Musician), Dom Gourlay (Drowned in Sound), Simon Parton (Swansea Music Hub), Bill Cummings (Sound & Vision PR), Feedy Frizzi (Moshi Moshi Management), Liz Hunt (Wales Goes Pop!), Jason Camileri (WMC Platform Project), David Owens (Media Wales), Estelle Wilkinson (Talks on Tour), Owain Schiavone (Y Selar), Richard Parfitt (Musician/ Education), Helia Phoenix (Visit Wales/ We Are Cardiff).  

Lisa Matthews, Portfolio Manager at the Arts Council of Wales, says: 

“We’re proud to support Horizons for a further year and see another 12 artists have a creative and potentially career changing year. There have been some incredible opportunities created so far and we’re looking forward with excitement more incredible music experiences.” 

Bethan Elfyn, Project Manager of Horizons at BBC Wales, said: 

“The Welsh music scene has probably never seen such a time as this - a real explosion of creativity in so many towns and cities, and so we’ve been absolutely spoilt this year with the selection of talent.  We’ve got an incredibly diverse shortlist of artists, and we can’t wait to follow their journey for the next year. A few of the acts will be familiar names but there’s also bound to be one or two musical surprises for people to discover.” 

Joseph Williams from the band Himalayas, one of the twelve bands selected said:

“It’s a real pleasure to be a part of BBC Horizons along with other great Welsh artists. We’re looking forward to working closely with the Horizons team to help progress and develop as a band.” 

Horizons is a unique showcase of new, independent contemporary music in Wales.  Now in its fourth year, Horizons is a collaboration between BBC Wales and Arts Council of Wales.The Horizons project aims to be a comprehensive showcase of promising talent in Wales.  From providing promotional and performance opportunities. 

Music fans can follow the Twitter account @horizonscymru and for all the latest news.

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AmeriCymru spoke to Wales' most prolific story writer - Rhys Hughes, about his recent novel Cloud Farming In Wales. We are also pleased to include a short excerpt from the book. Rhys Hughes' vision of 'Welsh hell' can be found below.

Excerpt from 'Cloud Farming In Wales' - Welsh Hell

Buy Cloud Farming here

Rhys Hughes bibliography


AmeriCymru: Hi Rhys and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Care to introduce your recent book Cloud Farming in Wales for our readers?

Rhys:  Thank you for the opportunity to answer questions about my book! Cloud Farming in Wales is a novel but not a typical kind of novel. It came together very easily and was completed within a month. Sometimes my writing flows and then it’s best to let it have its way, to let it keep going and not worry about the direction the story might be heading in, or what final form the book is going to take. That’s how I wrote this book, as if it really wanted to be written, as if the words couldn’t wait to appear on the page, as if the novel was writing itself, and the process was smooth and certainly enjoyable. I love it when that happens, because writing usually isn’t like that. More often it takes a lot of hard work and doubts and stress. My book is about Wales, life in Wales and the aspects of Wales that are unique to that country, that make it different and a little odd, although nowhere in the world is so unique that it defies all understanding to outsiders, because ultimately more things connect us deeply than separate us. The Wales of my book is a genuine place but it is presented here in mythic terms, or rather in terms that are whimsically fantastic. Yet I wanted the Wales of the book to feel the same as Wales really feels to me, on at least some level or levels, and that includes in humorous ways, satirical ways and wistful ways, so I wanted it to be like a fantasy realm in which strange things can occur, but only if they have a true Welsh resonance.

AmeriCymru: There is a connection, perhaps obvious from the title, with Trout Fishing in America. Care to elaborate?

Rhys:  My book was absolutely inspired by Richard Brautigan and in fact I decided I wanted to try doing for Wales something similar to what he did for America in that amazing novel of his. I came to Brautigan late. I wish I had discovered him a lot sooner. I was aware of his name for a long time, but I didn’t really know anything about him. I had an idea he might be a little like Vonnegut, who is one of my favourite authors, and eventually I decided to try his work. The first Brautigan novel I picked up was Sombrero Fallout and I totally loved it! Yes, it was like Vonnegut in some ways but it was also highly distinctive and idiosyncratic. It is an absurdist farce that spirals out of control, but it tells two stories at the same time and one of those stories is a framing device in which the absurd things that occur are plausible. The other story that is framed by that one is a version of America in which the absurd things that occur are extreme, implausible and hilariously exaggerated, yet they make serious points about the country and also about human beings in general. The novel is deceptive because it seems simple, yet it has a structure that is really interesting. I immediately began seeking out other Brautigan books with the idea of reading them all. In Watermelon Sugar has the best opening of any novel I have read and A Confederate General from Big Sur has the best ending. I am currently reading The Tokyo-Montana Express, which is neither a novel nor a collection of short stories but something else, a series of observations on an impossible railway journey across the Pacific Ocean, and it resembles in many ways his most famous book, Trout Fishing in America, which has no plot, almost no characters and breaks all the rules of fiction from its very first page. After reading that book I knew that I wanted to write a book of my own that took impetus from it and that adapted some of its methods or outlooks and applied them to Wales. I mention all this in the book itself, because one of the book’s many themes is the circumstance of its own composition. I believe my book is unlike any other Welsh novel, yet I also believe it is very Welsh, that it is essentially Welsh, even though it came to be created because of the inspiring example of an American writer from the flower power era.

AmeriCymru: “I wanted to write a novel that was me saying stuff about things rather than having to invent believable characters and a plot with measured incidents and resolutions.” What stuff? What things?

Rhys:  For many years, like most other writers, I have written stories the ordinary way, with characters whose actions serve to embody a plot that contains the ideas that make the fiction work. But I have also been interested in other ways of writing. For me it was a great pleasure and in fact a relief to be able to present the ideas in a more raw format, in an unconditioned state, to let the ideas be the real characters and to let the way they interact with each other generate the momentum of the story. So I didn’t outline a plot before starting work, and I didn’t have a set of protagonists in my mind to put in the story. I just began writing down ideas, thoughts, observations, and these started to work themselves into routines, and these routines connected themselves together over time into larger routines that became little chapters. There turned out to be quite a surprising unity of purpose and effect in the end result, I guess because all the time I was writing I was aware of Wales as a gravitational focus, so even the wildest flights of fancy are in orbit rather than flying off in different directions. One of the single most important motifs in the book that is used to create this focus is that of the falling rain, the endless rains of Wales, and the consequences of eternal rainfall are followed logically into comedic absurdity. Wales thus becomes an Atlantis that never sank but is just as damp. The truth is that it rains a lot in Wales, it rains so much that it does sometimes seem we are living underwater, that maybe Welsh people should evolve gills in order to breathe better. I know there are countries in the world with heavier rainfall, but Wales is certainly in the top ten. Richard Brautigan spent a lot of time in the rain when he lived in the northwest of the USA, tramping through dripping forests on interminable quests for nothing, and I really can identify with that. There comes a point when waiting for nice weather in order to go hiking and camping just proves to be too frustrating and one has to go out anyway and hang the moist consequences! I have been camping in heavy rain many times, sometimes with a tent full of holes and a few times without even a tent, just a tarpaulin that glowed bright green when the lightning flashes started. Hiking and camping in the rain is very Brautiganesque. It is also like being at sea in some ways. Very odd and very Welsh. Not just odd and not just Welsh, of course, but for sure it’s a situation conducive to creating thoughts and those thoughts will percolate and ferment in the mind, for months or years, and when they are written down they will flow out, pour out, cascade.

AmeriCymru: What inspired your masterful depiction of Welsh hell? Why does Dylan Thomas figure so prominently in it?

Rhys:  The depiction of hell in my book is a specifically Welsh hell, but it’s one that can also be understood as hellish by people who aren’t Welsh. We know that hell is a place of torments but torments require a means to make them work, apparatus in other words, so a Welsh hell will need Welsh apparatus, and by this I mean things that are typical of the country but have been taken to an extreme, that are applied eternally, infinitely and hopelessly to the damned soul. Rain is always going to be a part of that, and the damp house interiors that are an inevitable result of high rainfall and poor insulation. A Welsh hell is going to be a series of mouldy rooms haunted by demons and ghosts that are never dry. Not even the wit of these entities will be dry. Dylan Thomas is the fallen angel who rules such a hell, because all of Welshness was compressed into him while he was alive, and now he is part of the underworld and his disembodied head floats drunkenly through the passages and rooms and terrifies the poor Welsh souls who have ended up there. I guess our ideas of hell comes from things in the world that we don’t like when we imagine those things magnified and multiplied in power and duration until they become unbearable.

AmeriCymru: You have said that you plan to write 1000 stories. When we interviewed you back in 2009 you had written 472. Does the goal still stand, and if so how close are you to achieving it. What will you do when you have?

Rhys:  Yes, the goal still stands. I have been working on this story cycle far too long to give up on it. In the last ten years I have been very productive and now my total of stories stands at 889, so I feel I am approaching the final lap. I won’t be surprised, however, if I fall before reaching the finishing line, because it’s very Welsh to almost succeed in something grand but fail at the last moment. That’s one of the most typically Welsh outcomes in an endeavour. We are heroic failures! But it’s better to be heroic in any way than to be unheroic, so I’m not really dissatisfied. When I began my project to write exactly 1000 stories, I never actually expected to get anywhere near that total, to be honest, and I probably would have settled for half that number. But in the past decade I have worked very hard at writing and the ideas just kept coming to me and my output accelerated. I hope to reach a total of 900 by the end of this year. After that I will probably slow down as I will also be concentrating on writing non-fiction. This is also the answer to what I will do when I’ve finished my last story. I will switch to non-fiction and start writing essays and articles. In fact I began last year to take my non-fiction much more seriously and I am hoping that my first book of essays will be out in the next year or two. I am in negotiations with a publisher at the moment. The techniques of non-fiction have been creeping into my fiction in the past few years or so. In fact, a lot of Cloud Farming in Wales was written as if it was non-fiction, even though it’s about absurd and whimsical things.

AmeriCymru: Where can readers go to buy Cloud Farming in Wales online?

Rhys:  It is available at Amazon and other online bookshops, but it can also be ordered from the publisher directly. Snuggly Books are a really interesting publisher and they have been putting out some great books. They tried to get my novel sold in City Lights, the bookshop in San Francisco that has a strong connection with Richard Brautigan but City Lights weren’t especially interested, which I think is a shame. But that’s the way the business is. One should never expect too much.

AmeriCymru: What’s next for Rhys Hughes? Any new publications in the pipeline?

Rhys:  I am working on several new projects simultaneously, because that’s what I do, and I have already mentioned my first non-fiction book, which I want to be called Logic and the Monsters, but whether it will ever be published or not is impossible for me to say with any degree of certainty at this stage.I have a weird Western due out very soon, also by an American publisher, and it’s a book that I had a lot of fun writing. It is called The Honeymoon Gorillas and it’s not a normal Western at all, it’s not even a normal weird Western. When I started writing it I thought I was just writing one or two short stories but those stories turned into the chapters of a novel, so I just went with the flow. The day I finished writing it, I went into the main library in my city and there was a one-off exhibition about apes. It was a bizarre coincidence and I hope a good omen.

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

Rhys:  Just that I am delighted by your interest in Wales, which I often feel is the forgotten one of the Celtic brood, maybe because it doesn’t end in the word ‘land’ like Ireland and Scotland do. It makes us sound less of a country and more like a sea creature. It is heartening to know there are so many people around the world, and especially in the USA, who have knowledge of Wales and Welsh culture. This is great in fact and I thank you for your time and your attention.


Hell is a basement flat with endless rooms, all mouldy, connected by dim and depressing corridors, also mouldy. Many of the light bulbs don’t work and have never worked; and those that do are of a very low wattage. The carpets are worn and filthy, the windows are grimy and nothing can ever be seen through them, the wallpaper is bubbling and peeling. This is Hell for Welsh people; the hells intended for people of other lands are possibly quite different. Sometimes a torrent of diabolical rainwater washes along these corridors and carries away any soul caught in it to distant regions of the infinite flat that are nearly identical. Just because the interior of this flat is covered with a ceiling doesn’t mean it doesn’t rain indoors. The clouds drift up and down the corridors just the same as the damned souls do. This is a Welsh Hell for sure. There are rooms full of nothing but damp coal; others bulging with rotten chips, pies green with decay, beer that tastes of socks. Occasionally a room may be bearable for a few hours or even days, but always something will come along to spoil the reprieve. Beds will suddenly explode like bombs, their mattress springs scattering like spores.

A few walls are adorned with framed pictures of grim scenes in other parts of the flat or photographs of dead sheep in the rain. There is also the occasional badly painted mural. These murals depict the same few themes over and over again. Muddy puddles reflecting dismal skies, drowned pit ponies, rotting school children, evicted tenants squatting in the rain, junkie muggers beating old women, hunched people shambling along in queues that are closed circles, cars deliberately driving through flooded potholes and splashing pedestrians on pavements.


Anyway . . . to return to the basement flat that is Hell for the Welsh, I should add that the murals sometimes detach themselves from the walls and float down the corridors, following rain or preceding it, the blurred face of Dylan opening and closing its mouth as it attempts to swallow the clouds in the hope they are the foamy heads of beers. Any souls in those corridors at the time will be gulped down too and excreted from the back of his head much later. He doesn’t care. Fiddly Buttons has just arrived in Hell together with his nemesis Doodah Zips.

They clutch each other for comfort, then push each other away, drawn and repelled in equal measure. Suddenly at the end of a warped corridor that turns a sharp right angle like a snapped arm, comes a head around the corner. It is a drifting mural of Dylan and these new arrivals are unlucky enough to encounter it during their first minutes of damnation. Fiddly and Doodah shriek and run, but they trip over each other and nearer looms the drunkard’s gaping mouth as they sprawl and try to get up. Mushrooms on the carpet snap off under their frantic fingers. The paint of the mural has run in the rain. Dylan’s curly hair is now so smeared that it resembles the helmet of a knight. How ironic! “Do not go gentle into that knight!” Fiddly and Doodah warn each other. Maybe now they are in Hell they will become friends; the truth is that they always had a love-hate relationship. The Welsh Hell is an appalling place. Every 100 years the landlord calls around to pick up the rent from every cursed soul trapped there.



01 Pant y gafel 7415.JPGAmeriCymru: How did Estron come to be formed?

John: We're basically a family and friends band - I've been doing stuff with my daughters, Micky and Danny ever since they were quite small but in 2012 we started playing with Holly Robinson, a really talented and well known fiddler here in Pembrokeshire, and coined the name Estron for the band. Jess Ward joined us with her harp two years later. I suppose the band really got going after Micky and Danny moved on from the instruments they'd learned at school to things they wanted to play for themselves. Micky learned clarinet to begin with but took up the ukulele and now she plays both with Estron, while Danny abandoned the trombone for the Welsh pipes - she borrowed a spare set I had and taught herself how to play surprisingly quickly. I suppose it helped that she'd been exposed to my own playing her whole life!

AmeriCymru: What can you tell us about your most recent album 'Gwawr'?

John: We recorded Gwawr in May 2015. We wanted to capture the music we had been playing since we started and before we moved on to new material. I've been playing this music for a long time now and I guess the reason we're playing this stuff is mostly that the girls have been exposed to it all their lives so that to them this is what they associate with Welsh pipes, whereas for Holly and Jess it was all new and exciting. To Micky and Danny this music is just `normal' everyday stuff. I suppose that's what makes it `folk' music.

AmeriCymru: When did you first become interested in the Welsh pipes?

John: I started playing bagpipes in about 1990. The first set I had was a set of smallpipes from the Early Music Shop which I made from a kit. After putting it together I realised that I could make these things so I then went on to make a set of, I suppose you could describe them as `Border pipes' in G which I mostly played for the Morris team I was a member of. Then in '97 or '98 I met Ceri Rhys Matthews and became a member of Pibau Pencader, a Welsh piping club he'd started. There was something like ten people in it, a mixture of raw beginners and experienced pipers. There was a need for instruments and myself and John Glenydd started making pipes for the other members, and later to sell to other people as well. We were making all kinds of things from simple diatonic clarinets to bombardes and pibgorns, and bagpipes based either on the Breton veuze or ones which used a pibgorn as the chanter. Meanwhile Ceri was teaching us all his Welsh pipe music which by the nature of the instruments is quite a lot different from much other Welsh folk music. It was a great time and later I also played with Ceri in a pipes and drum band called Pibe Bach, playing both here in Wales and further afield. We even got touring work with the British Council in places like Oman, Palestine and Libya.

AmeriCymru: If someone wished to master the instrument, where would they go to acquire a set of Welsh pipes? How hard is it to learn to play the pipes?

John: Acquiring a set of Welsh pipes is not so easy at the moment. I don't know whether John Glenydd in Llanfihangel ar Arth in Carmarthenshire is still making pipes - I don't have his contact details but you could probably find out by contacting Ceri Matthews. I was making pipes myself until a few years ago but I went down with asthma which is very sensitive to wood dust so I've had to keep out of the workshop. Having said that, recently I've been teaching Danny how to make pipes and she's managed to acquire very good woodturning skills so we'll have to see how this develops. There are other people making pibgorns - Gavin Morgan in Merthyr Tydfil springs to mind. A lot of pipers here also play the Spanish Gaita which is pretty good for playing Welsh music on.

The pipes aren't particularly hard to play - they have open fingering much like a tin whistle which beginners find much easier than that of other pipes, such as Scottish ones. The hardest part is disassociating the blowing from playing the tune - with a bagpipe you play the instrument with a constant pressure on the bag with your arm and you only blow into the instrument when you need to keep it topped up with air.

AmeriCymru: Where can readers go online to buy or listen to your music?

John: Gwawr is available as a download (or as a CD) from Bandcamp. There's a link to it from our website ( You can also find a solo album I made a few years ago, `Cerrig Dymuniad' on there as well as Jess's first solo harp album `The Mermaid's Lament'.

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

John: It's important that we keep this music going in this age of globalisation - otherwise we're going to lose it. Welsh culture has always been under a lot of pressure from across the border in England and it's important that we keep our cultural differences. We all need our roots, our differences.


Posted in: Music | 0 comments

Osgoi Ffordd Osgoi

By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2018-05-10

Does dim palmant

dim marciau ffordd

dim ffordd ymlaen

dim ots

allan yn yr anialwch peiriannol

ceir yn erbyn ceir

gyrrwyr yn erbyn gyrrwyr

y milltiroedd  yn ysu amser

y byd yn gul

yn ein drychau

byd cul

ein dyddiau

dw i am gerdded

tuag at y cyntadau

a chrwydro’n ddifeddwl

diamcan a diystyr

a byw ar lethr

wrth ochr y draffordd

gyda’r ehedydd a’r barcut

yn ymyl y chwyn

yn sgîl y mygdarthau

y twrw

y damweiniau

y niwed

a’r ceudyllau sy’n uno

i greu un twll enfawr

ac anfarwol

roeddwn yn arfer edrych allan

am arwyddion ffordd

nawr dw i’n chwilio

am arwyddion ffydd

dw i am gerdded

ond mae’n rhy peryglus

heb balmant

heb farciau ffordd

heb ffordd ymlaen

dim ots

Avoiding a Bypass

There’s no pavement

no road markings

no way ahead

it doesn’t matter

out in the mechanical wilderness

cars against cars

drivers against drivers

the miles consuming time

the world narrow

in our mirrors

the narrow world

of our days

I want to walk

towards the ancestors

and wander thoughtlessly

aimlessly and meaninglessly

and live on a slope

by the side of the motorway

with the lark and the kite

among the weeds

in the wake of the fumes

the tumult

the accidents

the damage

and the potholes that are uniting

to create one immense

and unforgettable hole

I used to look out for

road signs

but now I search

for signs of faith

I want to walk

but it’s too dangerous

without a pavement

without road markings

without a way ahead

it doesn’t matter

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

Sul y Mamau Hapus

By Ceri Shaw, 2018-05-07

Wish your mam a happy mother's day in Welsh this year (Sunday May 13th in the U.S.):-

Sul y Mamau Hapus

phonetically: seal uh mameye hapis (approx)

Here is my pronunciation sound file but I prefer the video version below Happy

Posted in: Cymraeg | 0 comments

Anger One

By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2018-05-06

Grind my teeth down

mortar and pestle

molar pestilence

at the dentist

get a new set

a horse look

my masculinity blurs

whatever it is or was

weight piles on

semi-industrial consumption

of ill advice

that amorphous shape

my eyes dim with tears

my ears struggle to keep up

everyone wants

my money

my effort

my support

my attention

my input

my time

my vote

my life

while the flora

and the fauna


memory as a sequence

of half snatched-back vignettes

that perhaps I was never in

we can’t escape our parents

they’re in our faces

our ways of moving

of hoping

their bad luck

their diseases

their misjudgement

in the diaspora of kids

leaving home

the energy of synergy

in hangars of anger

the anchors of rancour

with truncheons of tension

in Anger One

anger has won

Posted in: Poetry | 2 comments
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