Ceri Shaw


 

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juniorbill.jpg

Junior Bill release four new self-released tracks on the 15th of November to coincide with a run of dates including supporting Danny Goffey (Supergrass) before returning for a homecoming show in Cardiff.

Junior Bill return after the success of their award-winning concert film “Above Your Station” with brand new music. Their new self-titled release features four fresh, exciting recordings steeped in narratives rooted in the history, myths and culture of Cardiff. The record further expands upon Junior Bill’s distinctive, infectious genre-blurring marriage of ska, reggae, dub, latin, punk and pop songwriting that has won them fans both on stage and on record. It was produced with Andrew Sanders (Jemma Roper, Big Thing) at Kings Road Studio In January 2017 and mastered by Matthew Evans (Keys, El Goodo).

Lead track "There's A Wolf In Grangetown" with its ghostly dub and catchy lyrical stream that’s use of accent and lingo is infectious and manages to have echoes of both Jamie T and The Specials but still retains the Junior Bill stamp. It documents the long-held myth that a wolf prowls the streets of Grangetown, a lively multicultural area in Junior Bill’s hometown of Cardiff. Some say the wolf has returned to the area in the past month or so, whilst others say it may simply be a marketing ploy from a certain band. The band's mischievous promo antics have already caused the legendary 'Grangetown Wolf' to become a cult Cardiff figure, with a local tourist gift shop creating their own Grangetown Wolf logos, art being created by its inspiration and even a twitter account posing as the wolf itself.(more here)  

Second track  “Romas” has a lusher distinctively more latin feel with its use of trumpets and sprightly percussion. Its celebratory chorus was written in defence of an ostracised ethnic community; “This one's for the Romas and the Czechs/They don't get no respect”. Both songs see Junior Bill continue to sing the gritty, street-level stories of urban Cardiff whilst delivering catchy choruses that ring around the listener's brain for weeks, just like the whispered provincial rumours from which the lyrics were born.

"The Butetown RATS" begins with a more stripped back a haunting isolated vocal and narrative rooted in the history of Cardiff’s docks. It is then joined by skittering military drums, organs and glistening chords that unravels into an addictive singalong that reminds one of Joe Strummer’s latter work. The song is based on a play written and directed by Cardiff's Kyle Legall called "R.A.T.S. - Rose Against The System". The play and the song documents the plight of rats being forced out of the former docks of Cardiff Bay by the new developments of restaurants, pubs and flats. In the play, the rats come across an unexploded bomb from World War II, and plan to blow it up to return the bay to what it once was. Rob Nichols of Junior Bill performed the song at a performance of the play in the Wales Millennium Centre. A live performance video of the track will also be released on the 15th November.

Behind the foot tapping dub pop charm of final track “Old Cardiff Winds” lies one of Nichols’s richest and most incisive lyrical sentiments. The song is based on a folk song written by Mike Johnson, the owner of Cardiff’s historic Coal Exchange venue. Rob recontextualised Johnson’s wistful nostalgic chorus about the glory days of Cardiff’s docks - “Oh don’t you wish you’d been there/there brushing steam from your hair” - to make it a sarcastic comment, bemoaning the superficialities of the city’s modern touristic cosmopolitan drive whilst it forgets its true soul and leaves behind the communities who built the it - "Gonna need a bigger rug to hide all you featherweight thugs/Peoples proud and picaresque, make way for the picturesque".  It’s this clash of the new and old worlds, social empathy and political understanding that make Junior Bill’s songs so uniquely pertinent and interesting.

Formed in 2013, Junior Bill have been through a few incarnations, but the writing talents of Rob Nichols have combined with keyboard & synth player Joel Beswick and bassist Rory Saunders since the bands inception. The five-piece is currently completed by drummer Jim Strickland and newest member Luke Owen on vocals, samples and guitar. Junior Bill’s live show has been highly praised for its enthralling energy and has earned them the reputation of being one of the best new acts in Wales.This November they will seek to prove it with a run of support shows across the UK with Danny Goffey (Supergrass) before returning for a homecoming show in Cardiff, their first in a year.


Live dates (*supporting Danny Goffey):

16th November – Old Market Assembly, Bristol
17th November – Yellow Arch Studios, Sheffield*
18th November – The Hug & Pint, Glasgow*
19th November – Cluny 2, Newcastle*
20th November – Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham*
21st November – Soup Kitchen, Manchester*
22nd November – Bullingdon, Oxford*
23rd November – Thousand Island, London*
24th November – Gwdihw, Cardiff

juniorbill.co.uk
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Posted in: Music | 0 comments

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AmeriCymru: Hi Dafydd and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Care to tell us a little about your background

Dafydd:  Shwmae / S’mae pawb. Pleser o’r mwyaf yw e i fi ateb eich cwestiynau ar wefan americymru.

Hello everyone. It’s my great pleasure to answer your questions for the AmeriCymru website.

My name is Dafydd Roberts and I was born and brought up in a village just outside the town of Wrexham (Wrecsam yn y Gymraeg) in north-east Wales about ten miles from the border with England.

I graduated in Welsh and the History of Wales from Cardiff University in 1978. Since then, I’ve taught Welsh to first language speakers and learners for over 40 years.

As well as teaching the language, I have worked as a subject expert for the Government and Qualifications Wales; marked and set papers for the Welsh Joint Education Committee; chaired and served on countless panels and forums and have written materials specifically designed for learners of the language.

I’ve been living in the west Wales town of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire (sir Gaerfyrddin) since 1997 and have been semi-retired for the past four years. At the moment, I teach Welsh for Adults classes (ranging in ability from total beginners to first language speakers who wish to improve their grammar); give private tuition to first and second language speakers at all levels both face to face and online; translate professionally; proof-read in both langauges and write in both Welsh and English for websites, magazines and other media. I am also the media coordinator for our local history society (www.llanellich.org.uk/20-misc/3-llanelli-community-heritage) and have made several TV appearances following the installation of blue plaques and interpretive panels.

AmeriCymru: How did Darllen a Deall, your regular column on Parallel.cymru, start?

Dafydd:  One of the publications I write a regular article for is IAW – the Urdd magazine for Welsh learners at secondary school level (www.urdd.cymru/en/projects/magazines/iaw/).

I’ve known Neil Rowlands (Parallel.cymru) for the past few years and he asked if I would write a series of articles for the website. The articles you see on Parallel.cymru are based on the material in IAW but are adapted and updated to suit adult learners.

Each series of articles has a different theme:

Ardal Arbennig (A Special Area) is the current theme. I’ve chosen particular areas of Wales and written about their history, geography, famous sons and daughters, events and attractions. Future themes will include Digwyddiad Arbennig (a Special Event), Mudiad Arbennig (A Special Organisation), Gweithle Arbennig (A Special Workplace) and Y Mis Yma yn Hanes Cymru (This Month in the History of Wales).

AmeriCymru: What learning level does one need to be at to fully benefit from 'Darllen a Deall'?

Dafydd: A good question. Based on the Welsh for Adults National Curriculum ( https://learnwelsh.cymru/media/2136/saesneg-final.pdf), I would say that the articles are most suited to learners at the Foundation and Intermediate levels, although learners at Entry level will be able to understand much of the content. I make the articles learner-friendly by using familiar syntax and vocabulary. On the other hand, the material is not patronising and content has in no way been dumbed down. Each article includes a vocabulary section containing words which I think could be unfamiliar to the learner. Readers are able to hover the mouse over a highlighted word in order to obtain the English translation (diolch Neil). Also included with each article is a language section which revises a particular element of grammar arising from the text.

AmeriCymru: What, in your opinion, is the best and most productive way to expand your Welsh vocabulary?

Dafydd:  From my experience, vocabulary acquisition comes naturally as the grammar is mastered. For me, sentence construction and syntax is the most important aspect of language acquisition. Once a sentence pattern has been mastered, that pattern can be adapted by the learner to suit a myriad of scenarios. The learner will then naturally acquire vocabulary relevant to him or her by using those patterns.

Rote learning of vocabulary has its merits but unless the newly acquired words are used in a context relevant to the learner, they tend to be forgotten.

AmeriCymru: Many of our readers are Welsh learners. I imagine that most of them of them would love to be able to read Welsh fluently. 'Darllen a Deall' is perfectly suited to assist with that. How much of a gap is there in your opinion, between being able to read fluently and speak fluently?

Dafydd:  When we are acquiring our mother tongue as infants, we learn to understand and copy what is being said. Reading and then writing skills develop much later. When I teach my adult beginners, ‘siarad a gwrando’ (speaking and listening) takes up 75% of our time. The reading material we use is based on the oral work. We write very little initially, but as learners progress, writing takes on a greater significance.

The articles in Parallel.cymru use patterns and vocabulary that learners will have encountered orally at their particular level.

Reading aloud is good practice when acquiring a second language. We are fortunate in that Welsh is a phonetic language and, as long as one is familiar with the alphabet, the vast majority of words are said as they are written.

As well as reading out aloud, other valuable techniques to aid understanding include looking at the pictures, punctuation, proper nouns, times, days and dates and numbers. Scan and speed reading and highlighting familiar (or unfamiliar) words and phrases is something that we all do when reading in our mother tongue and will help the reader to get the gist of the passage. It takes a while to understand everything, but keep in mind that when we read in our first language, the more difficult words and phrases rarely prevent us from fully comprehending or enjoying a piece of writing.

AmeriCymru: There are many online initiatives to help people learn Welsh at the moment. How much of a role can these sites play in preserving and extending knowledge of the Welsh language?

Dafydd: First of all it must be emphasised that there is no substitution for immersion in the target language. An intensive course in a centre such as Nant Gwrtheyrn, one of the Urdd camps or those organised locally by Welsh for Adults is worth countless hours of on-line learning. http://nantgwrtheyrn.org/

Having said that, the ever increasing pool of on-line resources can be an invaluable aid to language acquisition. The resources being developed by Welsh for Adults at every level ( https://learnwelsh.cymru) are invaluable when reinforcing work covered in lessons.

The online resources and courses available are too numerous to mention here and I wouldn’t like to recommend one over another. Suffice to say that if you were to type the necessary key words into your browser, you’ll come across pages and pages of them and you’re bound to find one suited to your needs.

For advanced learners and fluent speakers interested in language usage and dialectology, please join Guto Rhys’s group ‘Iaith’ on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/413517082015337

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

Dafydd:  Yes - ‘Daliwch Ati’ (Keep it Up). Whatever level you’re learning at, we in Wales really appreciate the support and encouragement for the language from our friends in other countries. We have a saying in Welsh – Yn ara deg mae dal iâr (through stealth one will catch a hen). Learn at a pace and level comfortable to you.
Don’t worry if you feel that you haven’t the time or the inclination to take up the language. I often think that support for the survival and development of the language is just as important sometimes as the willingness to learn.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or are interested in taking up regular or ad hoc online lessons . My email address is:

david_roberts@talktalk.net

Mwynhewch y darllen a hwyl fawr am y tro. Enjoy the reading and bye for now.

Cofiwch / Remember – Cenedl heb Iaith, Cenedl Heb Galon (A Nation without a Language is a Nation without a Heart)

Dafydd

Posted in: Cymraeg | 0 comments

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The Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir, and the Band of the 15th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, join forces on Remembrance Day with music paying tribute to those who served to bring peace. The choir toured western Europe in 2017, singing at Vimy Ridge, Menin Gate, Juno Beach and other sites. With those vivid reflections, and the war’s end anniversary, this year’s remembrance concert will be especially poignant for the choristers as they perform with this superb military band.



South Delta - Saturday, November 10, 2018


  • 2:30pm, South Delta Baptist Church, 1988 56 Street, Delta BC.
  • Adults $30, Seniors $28, Students with ID $15.
  • More information: vwmc Nov10 
  • Tickets online: Brown Paper Tickets*, or call Brown Paper Tickets at 1‑800‑838‑3006*.
  • Tickets also available from choir members.

New Westminster - Sunday, November 11, 2018


  • 2:30pm, Massey Theatre, 735 8th Avenue, New Westminster.
  • Adults $30, Seniors $28, Students with ID $15.
  • More information: vwmc Nov11 
  • Tickets available only at Massey Theatre*, or call the theatre box office at 604‑521‑5050*.

* Ticket service charges apply. 

Visit our website at www.vwmc.ca to learn more about the choir, our CDs, and opportunities to audition for the choir. 



Christmas is coming... 

Heads-up for our seven concerts celebrating the Sounds of Christmas. Click on the links below for more information about the concert, venue, and ticket purchase. We are again delighted to share the stage on five occasions with some exceptional school choirs who will present a portion of the programme on their own, and join with us for a few combined songs. 


Wed Nov 28 2018 - 7:30pm to 10:00pm

Michael J Fox Theatre, Burnaby, with Burnaby Secondary School choir

Sat Dec 1 2018 - 2:30pm to 5:00pm

White Rock Baptist Church, South Surrey, with North Surrey Secondary School choir

Sun Dec 2 2018 - 2:30pm to 5:00pm

Massey Theatre, New Westminster, with Winter Harp

Tue Dec 4 2018 - 7:30pm to 10:00pm

Surrey Arts Centre

Fri Dec 7 2018 - 7:30pm to 10:00pm

Centennial Theatre, North Vancouver, with Argyle Secondary School choir

Sat Dec 8 2018 - 7:30pm to 10:00pm

Shaughnessy Heights United Church, Vancouver, with Magee Secondary School choir

Sat Dec 15 2018 - 2:30pm to 5:00pm

Abbotsford Arts Centre, with W.J. Mouat Secondary School choir

 

Posted in: Music | 0 comments

The Day We Went To Maupin


By Ceri Shaw, 2018-10-01


Out And About In Oregon (4)






I am not normally one to press my holiday snaps on others. Too many glazed eyes and polite stifled yawns over the years have convinced me that it is unwise. If, however you have a few seconds to spare please check out the pictures of Maupin in the gallery above.

Maupin in Eastern Oregon is an undiscovered gem and apart from kayakers and anglers it is largely ignored by visitors to the state who, understandably concentrate on Mt Hood, Crater Lake or the beautiful Oregon coast. In my opinion Maupin is well worth a visit and provides an ideal venue for a quiet weekend away and a superb  base from which to explore the surrounding countryside. Both Shaniko and the Tyghe Valley are within easy, and spectacular, driving distance. Mt Hood and the Columbia Gorge are easily reachable on day trips.

Over the years on AmeriCymru we like to think that we have enticed many Americans of Welsh descent to make the 'pilgrimage' to the old country. But what about Welsh visitors to the US? Sure you can visit New York, Chicago, L.A. etc but everyone visits those places. Why not go somewhere off the beaten track and get a real taste of rural America? Maupin ( and Oregon ) will not disappoint.


Posted in: Lifestyle | 0 comments



Ani Glass  Peirianwaith Perffaith by Ani Saunders.jpg

“Ani transcends language with her shimmering take on pop.” Eugenie Johnson – DIY



Ani Glass releases her new single 'Peirianwaith Perffaith' (Perfect Machinery) on the 26th of October through Recordiau Neb. She will be performing at Pop Montréal on the 28th and 29th of September and will be attending as part of the Focus Wales delegation, supported by PRS Foundation's International Showcase Fund and Wales Arts International.

Ani Glass is back with her new single 'Peirianwaith Perffaith' (Perfect Machinery) underpinned by a tapestry of pulsing and prodding synths, samples and programmed beats bathed in the neon of the city’s industrial glow. Her sublime pirouetting vocal refrains infuses a knowing pop universality into the overwhelming experience of life in the city’s engine room. Ani says it’s about how the “search for identity in a moving city and society insists on a sense of stillness often found in the shadows of progress”.

Released as a single in 2016, the industrial electro-pop of ‘Y Ddawns’ (The Dance) is a rallying call for those seeking inspiration in language and art. Laura Snapes of Pitchfork said it was "a double-edged sword that's as stern as it is hopeful; music for the end of the world, and the start of a new one." While BBC Wales’s Bethan Elfyn named it “Perfect Euro Pop!”

Ani followed this with the release of her debut EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ (Silent Explosion) on Recordiau Neb which included six infectious, socially conscious electronic pop songs. They stand as a document of Ani Glass’s artistic evolution invested with grander themes concerning the Welsh language and politics. A Remix version of the EP was later released and featured reinterpretations by Carcharorion, Cotton Wolf, Plyci and R. Seiliog.

Biography

Ani Glass is the persona of Cardiff-based electronic pop musician, producer, artist and photographer, Ani Saunders. Fiercely proud of her heritage, Glass sings in her native languages Welsh and Cornish, and in 2016 released her first solo material with lead single ‘Ffôl’ (Foolish) being chosen as single of the week on BBC Radio Cymru and gaining plays on BBC 6 music.

Ani is also known for her work with The Pipettes, joining in 2008 to record the Martin Rushent-produced Earth Vs. The Pipettes album. Prior to her stint with the polka-dotted pop band, Glass was a member of Genie Queen, managed by OMD’s Andy McCluskey.

Gigs

28.09 Casa Del Popolo - Montréal (Pop Montréal)
29.09 Marché des Possibles Park - Montréal (Pop Montréal)
03.10 Clwb Ifor Bach – Cardiff (Forté Project & FOCUS Wales)

Links

Website http://www.recordiauneb.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/aniglasscymru/
Twitter https://twitter.com/AniSaunders
Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/aniglass



Ar y 26ain o Hydref, bydd Ani Glass yn rhyddhau ei sengl newydd Peirianwaith Perffaith ar Recordiau Neb. Fe fydd Glass yn perfformio yng Ngŵyl Pop Montréal ar y 28ain a’r 29ain o fis Medi fel rhan o ddirprwyaeth Gŵyl Focus Wales – a hyn wedi iddi dderbyn cefnogaeth PRS Foundation a Celfyddydau Rhyngwladol Cymru.

Mae Ani Glass nôl gyda’i sengl newydd ‘Peirianwaith Perffaith’ sy’n frodwaith o synau synth gofodol, samplau a churiadau diwydiannol. Mae pob nodyn o’i llais yn arnofio’n swynol uwchben sain peirianyddol y ddinas. Yn ôl Ani, mae’r gân yn trafod yr ysfa i “chwilio am hunaniaeth yng nghanol dryswch y ddinas a ffeindio cysur a llonyddwch yng nghysgodion gobaith”.

Rhyddhawyd sengl ‘Y Ddawns’ yn 2016 – roedd yn alwad ar y rheiny oedd yn chwilio am ysbrydoliaeth mewn iaith a chelf. Yn ôl Laura Snapes o Pitchfork, roedd y gân yn "gerddoriaeth ar gyfer diwedd y byd, a dechrau un newydd" tra disgrifiodd Bethan Elfyn BBC Wales hi’n “Ewro-pop perffaith!”

Yn dilyn hyn, fe wnaeth Ani rhyddhau ei EP cyntaf, ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’, ar Recordiau Neb. Roedd yn cynnwys chwe chân pop – saif fel ddogfen o esblygiad Ani fel artist wrth iddi ymwneud â themâu ehangach gan gynnwys yr iaith Gymraeg a gwleidyddiaeth. Rhyddhawyd fersiwn remics o'r EP yn ddiweddarach a oedd yn cynnwys ail-ddehongliadau gan Carcharorion, Cotton Wolf, Plyci ac R. Seiliog.

Bio

Ani Glass yw persona’r gerddores gerddoriaeth bop electronig, artist, ffotograffydd a chynhyrchwraig Ani Saunders. Bydd Ani Glass yn canu yn ei hieithoedd brodorol sef y Gymraeg a’r Gernyweg ac y mae’n hynod falch o’i hetifeddiaeth. Rhyddhaodd ei gwaith cyntaf fel unawdydd yn ystod 2016. Cafodd ei phrif record sengl ‘Ffôl’ ei dewis yn ‘sengl yr wythnos’ gan BBC Radio Cymru ac yr oedd i’w chlywed ar sianel BBC 6 Music.

Bu Ani yn aelod o The Pipettes, gan ymuno yn 2008 a recordio’r albwm Earth Vs. The Pipettes gyda’r cynhyrchydd Martin Rushent. Cyn hyn roedd Glass yn aelod o Genie Queen a oedd yn cael eu rheoli gan Andy McCluskey o’r grŵp OMD.

Gigs

28.09 Casa Del Popolo - Montréal (Pop Montréal)
29.09 Marché des Possibles Park - Montréal (Pop Montréal)
03.10 Clwb Ifor Bach – Caerdydd (Forté Project & FOCUS Wales)

Lincs

Gwefan http://www.recordiauneb.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/aniglasscymru/
Twitter https://twitter.com/AniSaunders
Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/aniglass


Posted in: Music | 0 comments

Welsh poet Paul Steffan Jones and artist Chris Rawson-Tetley have been collaborating on two projects recently, inspired by the Welsh legend of the Cantre'r Gwaelod. The projects  comprise Chris's visual re-imagining of a lost land and Paul's poems of loss and reverence. AmeriCymru spoke to Paul and Chris about these projects and their future plans.


cantrergwaelod.jpg


 
Photos: 12




Paul Steffan Jones



Paul Albufeira 2017.jpgAmeriCymru: Hi Paul and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. How did the idea for this joint exhibition came about?

Paul: Chris and I have admired each other's work for about a decade and had first discussed a collaboration inspired by a certain type of landscape and its many changing uses about four years ago. In the early summer of 2017, Chris approached me with his idea of a work of images and words responding to the Cantre'r Gwaelod legend and what this suggested to us. I was intrigued by this approach and agreed to work with Chris to produce Gwaelod. I was particularly drawn to the proposition as I was in the throes of researching my family history which I was to find a highly relevant reference point for much of my writing for the project.

AmeriCymru: What can you tell us about the Cantre'r Gwaelod legend?

Paul: As a native of Ceredigion, I was brought up with the Cantre'r Gwaelod legend and assumed wrongly that most people in my country also shared this ancient knowledge. My first encounter with the tale was as a young boy being in a car with my parents driving to the Cardigan Bay coast at Aberaeron. My mother suggested that if I listened carefully, that is if I kept quiet, I might be able to hear bells tolling under the sea. This led to me wanting to learn more about this strange land. I soon learned about Seithenyn the gatekeeper, the 16 towns lost to flood due to his drunkenness and that the legend was already over a thousand years old. I learned that my mother's family had always lived on the coast of that bay. I began to see them and me, fancifully perhaps, as the descendants of the survivors of that catastrophe, the inheritors of that rich but inaccessible kingdom. I see the legend as a metaphor for diaspora, due to both natural and man-made causes and see it as an important tale, largely forgotten, in the story of who the Welsh are, who I am. A fascinating development in the story's later life is an attempt in the modern era to explore the area concerned for physical evidence of an inundated land.

AmeriCymru: The project has had one exhibition so far, in Cardigan. Are there any plans to exhibit elsewhere?

Paul: We are hoping to put the exhibition into other towns and cities, and other continents. We are open to suggestion.

AmeriCymru: You have been collaborating with artist Chris Rawson-Tetley on this project. How do you work together? Does Chris respond to your poems or vice versa?

Paul: Chris and I meet regularly at his studio to discuss ideas, progress and direction. We also get inspiration from taking our cameras out and visiting coastal West Wales locations together. A key factor in the co-working is the sharing of family photographs, some going back to the late 1800s. We bounce ideas off each other but our constituent efforts are formed in isolation-Chris in his studio, me in my lap in any space I can get into that position. I have performed some of these poems live and they, and the ideas behind them, have been well received.

AmeriCymru: You are currently working on a related project 'Gwaelod-Pictures of Us'. What can you tell us about this project? How does it relate to 'Gwaelod' and will it be published?

Paul: Gwaelod-Pictures of Us is a natural progression from Gwaelod as it is an attempt to populate the landscape that Chris created in his earlier pictures for this project, an imagined Cantre'r Gwaelod. We want to depict the people displaced by the Cantre'r Gwaelod cataclysm (and other disasters) and those who followed them as individuals with their own interesting stories, their individual voices, not anonymous cannon-fodder. Chris is now painting very evocative figurative works as a result. We are in the early stages of discussions about putting out a book of pictures, photographs and poems.

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

Paul: I would like to thank members and readers of Americymru for their continued support for my writing. I hope to bring out a new collection of poems in next 12 months including a small number of Welsh language poems and photographic images, provisionally entitled The Ministry of Loss.



Otherlander




He came from a lost village

he couldn’t remember which one

or how it came to be missing

as it was so long ago

perhaps it had been a frowned

drowned sort of place

or a bulldozed overdosed one

somewhere that wouldn’t be missed


he had been wet behind the ears

but soon fitted in with

the new strangers

although they spoke differently

and seemed disinterested

in anything that was other


his parents never talked about

their origins

and stayed that way until the end


those nights when he could sleep

deep in the cosy burrow of forgetting

he dreamt of a place

that smiled

that worked

that knew its history


what he couldn’t know

was that everyone else

was dreaming

of returning to somewhere

they had never been


he got over it

there had been many villages

lost for various reasons

that’s the way it was

people becoming unwitting

pieces on a giant chess board

that used to be their country

 

 

 




Chris Rawson-Tetley



crt.jpgAmeriCymru: How did you initially become interested in the 'Gwaelod' and 'Gwaelod - Pictures Of Us' projects?

Chris: I visited the area of West Wales on a regular basis for thirty years, and it both fascinated and evaded me. The landscape continued to elude in spite of all the research I carried out over the years into its cultural and geological history. Puzzling over the engagement prompted an assessment of my involvement from a practical artistic point of view.

My wife and I moved to Ceredigion permanently in early 2014 to be with good friends, and now I feel that perhaps I might just be approaching an understanding of what it was that I was missing.

There are many places in West Wales with the word gwaelod in their name. Gwaelod in straight translation is lowland, but of course there are also other connotations. It can also be a part of the nomination Cantref ‘r Gwaelod, the lowland hundred, and part of the myth that is Maes Gwyddno or Gwyddno’s land, the sunken kingdom that supposedly occupied the area that is Cardigan Bay, an area of land so fertile that, “one acre there was worth three elsewhere”.

AmeriCymru: How many media do you work in? Do you have a particular media that you consider your favorite to work in? Why?

Chris: My chosen medium at the moment is painting. But the supports I use for it may vary according to the “feel” of the image I wish to create. Paper, wood and slate have all been used. Slate as a support for work demands a different approach to presentation, the image is only a part. A slate is an object in itself and therefore the whole thing demands more care when presenting.

I wouldn’t say that I have a “favourite” media, but slate certainy presents more possibilities as part of a piece.

AmeriCymru: Do you have a particular message in your work, an effect you want it to create in your audience or does this vary from piece to piece?

Chris: My first series of works, “Gwaelod – Imagining a sunken kingdom.”, dealt with the myth and imagined the kind of imagery that might be created by such a culture as well as responding to an actual geological past in a similar manner.

The legendary watery inundation of “Gwaelod” was the cause of a diaspora, or scattering of the people. Diaspora, as a term, has come to be associated on a global scale with forced removal from homelands, genocide and political upheaval as well as natural disaster. But all mass tragedies contain many intimate ones – the past may be shared but the experience of it is individually personal, and diaspora may also be the scattering of family and friends by forces beyond individual or communal control.

The works I am creating in the “Gwaelod – Pictures of Us” continue the story in a modern setting and are not intended as a dip into nostalgia but as representaions of who we are and where we are from. Important remembrances, for without an intimate and fiercely guarded knowledge of shared history a people are at the disposal of whatever despotic whim a cynical regime may consider. The images are of social interaction not work. A fact often overlooked is that work while being of importance as a means of providing the means of survival is not the reason for it. Human beings by nature are gregarious and it is within a shared social history that our roots are located.

I began to work collaboratively with the poet, Paul Steffan Jones in 2017, having become friends some seven years previously.

What such a collaboration as mine and Paul Steffan Jones hopefully creates is something born from a mutual understanding and respect for the practice of the other. Paul’s poetry has inspired my works and my works have inspired Paul.

AmeriCymru: How many hours a day do you spend creating?

Chris: I try to work every day. Even when not actually making work I am contemplating my next move or preparing for a piece. Art isn’t a nine-to-five job, although a major part of the actual practice may be carried out during those hours. Actual creation takes place in bursts of activity, the rest of the time is spent setting up the conditions in which those “bursts” can take place. I have worked commercially and on academic collaborations over the years and so probably have a slightly more pragmatic attitude than is generally thought to be the norm for an “artist” - not a term I use, “stuffist” being preferred as I make “stuff”!

AmeriCymru: Where can our readers find your work online ?

Chris: Since retiring, I was a university lecturer in the arts, I no longer maintain a web presence. I do however have a Facebook page (most people do) which I use only for “art” information purposes, generally. All the art works I publish there are in the public domain.

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

Chris: Perhaps one of my favourite quotes from John Ruskin – “Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts;—the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others; but of the three, the only quite trustworthy one is the last.” (John Ruskin, “St Mark’s Rest”.)




Cantre'r Gwaelod - The Legend

From the Wikipedia:- Cantre'r Gwaelod, also known as Cantref Gwaelod or Cantref y Gwaelod (English: The Lowland Hundred), is a legendary ancient sunken kingdom said to have occupied a tract of fertile land lying between Ramsey Island and Bardsey Island in what is now Cardigan Bay to the west of Wales. It has been described as a "Welsh Atlantis" and has featured in folklore, literature and song.

Cantre'r Gwaelod was an area of land which, according to legend, was located in an area west of present-day Wales which is now under the waters of Cardigan Bay. Accounts variously suggest the tract of land extended from Bardsey Island to Cardigan or as far south as Ramsey Island. Legends of the land suggest that it may have extended 20 miles west of the present coast.

There are several versions of the myth. The earliest known form of the legend is usually said to appear in the Black Book of Carmarthen, in which the land is referred to as Maes Gwyddno (English: the Plain of Gwyddno). In this version, the land was lost to floods when a well-maiden named Mererid neglected her duties and allowed the well to overflow...... MORE HERE

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'Sofa Surfin' by Mike Jenkins, A Review


By Ceri Shaw, 2018-08-14

"It's Marmite poetry....but I like Marmite!" - Mike Jenkins





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A review of Welsh poet and novelist Mike Jenkins new anthology Sofa Surfin.

"A former winner of the Wales Book of the Year competition for 'Wanting to Belong' (Seren), Jenkins is a former editor of Poetry Wales and a long-term coeditor of 'Red Poets'."
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The poems in 'Sofa Surfin' are all written in local dailect and they address themes of homelessness, unemployment and general decline in post-industrial Merthyr Tydfil. This is not Mike's first experiment with dialect poetry. He has published three previous anthologies: 'Graffiti Narratives' 1994, 'Coulda Bin Summin' 2001, 'Barkin' 2013. (Read our review of 'Barkin' here).

In a blog post ( Famous F Doin Nothin ) Mike explains the root of his fascination with this form of poetic expression:-

" I was especially inspired by West Indian writers like Derek Walcott, black English poet James Berry , the songs of Bob Marley and one particular poem by David Hughes 'Swonzee Boy, See', which appeared in 'Planet' magazine, edited by Barnie."

He goes on to outline the reception that his work in this genre has received:-

"My previous book 'Barkin!' had decidedly mixed reviews yet got short-listed for Wales Book of the Year, while the following one 'Shedding Paper Skin' ( in standard English) received great reviews and not a sniff of prizes.

An English person responded to 'Sofa Surfin' by commenting that it would have limited appeal, yet West Indian and Scots are widely accepted and , ironically, the poems have so far been greeted far more enthusiastically in England than Wales ( with 'Planet' again the exception)."

I guess we'll just have to disagree with the 'English person'referenced above. It is certainly true that West Indian and Scots dialect poetry has succeeded in reaching a broader audience. We believe that Mike Jenkins' Merthyr dialect poems similarly deserve to be widely read and treasured for their originality, humour and insightfulness.

In 'They Stopped My Benefits' we are firmly in 'I, Daniel Blake' territory as the protagonist decries the beaurocratic rigmarole which leaves him suspended and penniless:-

They stopped my benefit
an what ave I got
left in-a-flat?
Two boggin tea-bags
an a tin o sardines
outa date!

Say I never
signed on, but
I know theyer
system's t blame;
it's appened before
'F*** off!' a-compewter sayz.

Many of the poems in this collection explore life on the dole and the frustrations of dealing with a callous and unresponsive benefits system. In 'Sofa Surfin' however, Mike focuses on the plight of a young woman who has recently become homeless after an argument with her partner. She is reduced to sofa surfing i.e. "staying temporarily with various friends and relatives while attempting to find permanent accommodation":-

Ee've kicked me out
It woz a stewpid argument
'bout a juke-box
'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep' -
I f***in sayd 'No way!'
(shame no Beef'eart).

.....

Coz I'm talkin 'bout the breakers
ewger than any sea's -
divorce an booze, gettin sacked an speed.
Ow I stood on-a board
f'moments before being dragged down
t the subway, like an underwater tunnel
where I could ardly breathe

But, fans of Mike's dialect poetry will be aware that there are always oases of humour interspersed amongst the grimmer offerings exemplified above. In 'No Offence' the narrator unleashes a tirade of personal insults at his unidentified victim while insisting all the while that he means no offence:-

No offence like,
but yew're a baldy bastard
with an ead like an egg,
if I woz't crack it open
yewer brain ud be
like a Cadbury Cream Egg

.....

When yew talk it's like a bloody screech,
so igh-pitched the dogs go mad
and people in-a shops think
the fire-alarm's gone off,
anybuddy ud think
you'd ad yewer goolies chopped off!

No offence like!

In this context we cannot fail to mention the wonderful and whimsical 'A Pijin In Greggs', a personal favourite:-

This pijin was struttin is stuff down town,
ee wuz in Greegs lunchtime -
think ee wuz arfta the offer
of 5 ring donuts f'r a pound

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I come yer f'r a pastie
coz I wanna do a college course
t learn ow t be a seagull
an yeard this is where you enrol

And so, however you feel about the real thing, we think you will warm to literary 'Marmite'. If you are responsive to the idea of a poetry anthology infused with pathos and humour and delivered in contemporary working class vernacular, then this book is for you. Unreservedly recommended!

In fact why not buy all four of Mike's dialect collections? We include titles and links below for your convenience.

Sofa Surfin

Barkin!

Coulda Bin Summin

Graffitti Narratives



From the Wikipedia. A note on Marmite for our American readers :- "Marmite is a sticky, dark brown food paste with a distinctive, powerful flavour, which is extremely salty. This distinctive taste is reflected in the marketing slogan: "Love it or hate it." Such is its prominence in British popular culture that the product's name has entered British English as a metaphor for something that is an acquired taste or tends to polarise opinions."


Bryn Yemm

image1.JPGWhen The Beatles performed in his home town of Abergavenny; Bryn Yemm who was rapidly gaining a reputation as a prominent entertainer was amongst those invited to greet the “Fab 4”.

With over 10 albums of contemporary classic songs, together with performances throughout the world, Bryn is deservedly placed in the list of truly great entertainers. The Guinness Book of Hit Albums testifies this; acknowledging that Bryn was the only UK artist to have 2 chart entries in top 100 albums during 1986.

Today his albums offer a more reflective mood and once again he has identified exceptional musicians to collaborate on a truly inspirational album; a gift he demonstrated with “Gateway to Song” with the Morriston Orpheus Choir, “How Great Thou Art” with the Treorchy Male Voice Choir”, “Across the Bridge” with the Kidz R Us choir and the award winning “Let There Be Peace” with the Richard William Singers. Faith, Hope & Salvation – Bryn Yemm meets Salvation Brass – is an extraordinary collection of amazing songs, songs to inspire, songs to raise the spirit and songs to sing along with.

Salvation Brass are outstanding musicians, drawn from Salvation Army bands from across the UK. They contribute distinctive arrangements to each song under the guidance of the musical director Dean Jones. The Morrison Songsters realise the magnificence of the melody, then highlight and emphasise the essence of these songs. This album contains songs/hymns that are classics from Salvation Army Bands repertoire.

No matter where in the world I perform, I am proud to proclaim “I am from Wales – the land of song”; this is reflected by the inclusion of “Calon Lan” and “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah” (“Bread of Heaven” as sang by Welsh rugby fans worldwide).

Bryn enthuses “I am particularly excited and proud of my version of “McArthur Park”, with the brass band it thunders along”.

A lyric from “McArthur Park” says “I’ll never have that recipe again”; we hope that Bryn Yemm will continue to find the recipe for further collaborations with exceptional musicians and albums to inspire all ages.

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