Ceri Shaw


 

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The crisis of plastic in our oceans has been exposed on television in recent months. Now a Welsh author is introducing the importance of marine life and its conservation to children in a new wonderfully illustrated book. 

The book is called The Grimpots, about a family of fun-loving umbrella octopuses and has a strong ecological message is published by Y Lolfa. Author Gilly John is fascinated by the natural world and its lesser-known inhabitants, and takes a keen interest in conservation. 

“Encouraging children to be curious about the world around them can only be positive for them and the planet. Primarily I want my book to entertain children but raising awareness about the diversity in our oceans is important to me,” says Gilly John, adding: 

“Marine conservation has had a boost in recent years, with the extent to which plastic is impacting our oceans being well documented as in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II series. Children need to learn that the sea is full of living creatures and that we all have a responsibility to keep our seas clean.” 

Twenty rhymed verses tell the story of Gus’ adventures in Barnacle Bay where he escapes from a shady shark intent on making him a snack and then helps a big blue whale named Dave. Umbrella octopuses are unusual in that they don’t have ink sacs like other octopuses and so have to use other defensive methods to escape predators. 

The book is full of Janet Samuel’s beautiful illustrations which bring to life the underwater world images of cuttlefish, krill, sea snails and eels to name but a few of the creatures illustrated. 

Gilly John was born in Gwent but now lives in Caerphilly. She trained as a children’s nurse before turning to write children’s poetry. 

Janet Samuel enjoys working with colour and texture and bringing characters to life and has illustrated a number of children’s books. 

The Grimpots by Gilly John (£4.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.  

Gilly John will be attending the Spread the Word Festival(organised by The Stephens and George Charitable Trust) in Merthyr Tydfil on 11 April with a storytelling and book signing.

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Welsh punk band
Breichiau Hr deliver an urgent call to arms with their new single, ‘Penblwydd Hapus Iawn'. An unflinching three minutes of punk aggression powered by a wall of three pronged guitars and cathartic screams, underscored by brittle melodic interplay, reminiscent of the band’s early influences, Sunny Day Real Estate, At The Drive In and The Get Up Kids, it proves that Breichiau Hr's visceral prescient sound is primed for wider attention. Steffan Dafydd the band’s lyricist and vocalist explains: "the setting of the song is a catastrophic birthday party I attended a few years ago where I witnessed the worst in some of the best people”.

It's Breichiau Hr’s third release on West Wales imprint Libertino records, home to the most exciting emerging Welsh acts(Adwaith, Los Blancos, Silent Forum). If ever a band was needed to soundtrack these unhinged times, where there is a lack of political and social responsibility and accountability, Breichiau Hir fill that void with passion and honesty.  

Breichiau Hir are a cult Welsh language six-piece with a rich history spanning over a decade that depicts just how committed they are to their cause. They met in 2008 when they were schoolmates in Cardiff, inspired by the post-hardcore, punk and emo bands of the 1990s. They released a handful of self-produced DIY singles and played numerous shows throughout their university years.  "In 2015 we recorded our EP Mae'r Angerdd Yma Yn Troi Yn Gas.” Says Dafydd “We were still experimenting and seeing what fits.  This was the first time we had recorded a collection of songs all in one studio with Mei Gwynedd who also released it via his label Jigcal"  The singles 'Toddi' and 'Ti A Dy Ffordd' both received airplay and critical acclaim. Ti A Dy Ffordd was picked out as 2015's song of the year in Golwg magazine.

In 2018, they signed to Libertino Records and released the dark melodic sound of double-a side, 'Halen' and 'Mewn Darnau', rounding off the year with the speak/shouty punk single, 'Portread O Ddyn Yn Bwyta Ei Hun.'

“Welsh Language emo heroes Breichiau Hr are one of the best kept secrets I reckon, combining urgency and melody and leaving you want to cry and learn Welsh”

Huw Stephens

Artist: Breichiau Hir
Rhyddhau/Release: Penblwydd Hapus Iawn
Dyddiad Rhyddhau Digidol/Digital Release Date: 12 / 04 / 19
Label: Libertino

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Packed with lively double-page illustrations, a new book starring a small dragon has been hailed as the Welsh Where’s Wally? However, Find the Dragon! has an obvious Welsh slant, with every double page showing an iconic Welsh location, including Mount Snowdon, Caerphilly Castle and Portmeirion. Other scenes include the Red Wall at a Wales football match, a Gower beach and a farm full of disobedient sheep. 

As well as searching for the little dragon, the pictures can also be used to search for many other bizarre objects and characters listed at the back of the book. The book is guaranteed to provide hours of discussions and fun for all the family! 

Find the Dragon! is by the well-known cartoonist and illustrator Huw Aaron. Huw is based in Cardiff and he’s illustrated a number of children’s books and comic strips as well as being a regular contributor to Private EyeThe Oldie and The Spectator

Speaking about his new book, Huw Aaron said:

“Between finding the little dragon, evil dragon-hunting baddies, funny characters and bizarre items hidden within the scenes, there are over 250 individual things to search for, so plenty to keep any child amused during a long car journey or rainy (screen-free!) afternoo. I love designing busy scenes and hiding funny details in the pictures, so it was a lot of fun creating this book... and a lot of work too! Good luck with the dragon-spotting!” 

Find the Dragon! features Boc the dragon, a face familiar to many Welsh children as one of the characters of the popular Welsh-language children’s comic Mellten, which began in 2016. 

Huw Aaron will be at the Cardiff Children’s Lit Fest on 7th of April at Cardiff City Hall at 3pm with a session entitled Drawing Myths and Monsters and will be talking and doodling his new book Find the Dragon! Cost of session is £5. For more information, please see www.cardiffkidslitfest.com. 

Find the Dragon! by Huw Aaron (£4.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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from aberfan t grenfell.jpgThe title poem of this collection focuses on two manmade disasters which occurred forty years apart but which revealed the same pattern of callous indifference on the part of the political establishment. The Aberfan disaster which claimed the lives of 116 children and 28 adults occurred on 21st October 1966 just down the road from Mike Jenkins' home town of Merthyr Tydfil. The Grenfell Tower fire took the lives of 72 people in West London in 2017.

In discussing this poem in the short 'Notes' section at the back of the book, Mike Jenkins says the following:

"The Aberfan disaster of October 1966 has had a lasting and profound effect on the Vallys and when someone put on Facebook shortly after the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower that 'this is our Aberfan', I knew exactly what they meant."

Most of the poems in this collection are, however, concerned with purely personal tragedies which are detailed in poems such as 'Steve the bus'. Steve is a pensioner whose wife has recently passed away. He takes to riding public transport all day using his bus pass:

It's winter time
now my missis ave gone
I'm straight down-a bus station.

All day I keep warm
If they took my pass away
I'd surely pass away.

The invaluable bus pass also helps him to keep boredom and loneliness at bay:

The missis woulda said-
'Yewer loop-the-loop,
all's yew need's blankets an soup!'

But I meet all kindsa folk,
drivers know me as 'Steve the Bus' -
better 'an ridin in an earse.

Then there is 'Ow Far Down' in which the protagonist has lost his wife, home and job and is now homeless and suffering from depression which the prescribed medication only makes worse:

Don' 'member what order
they come in-
booze,tabs,d'pression
mixed t'gether, Molotov cocktail
in is brain.

But there are also moments of light relief and in 'Famous f doin nothin'we find our hero drunk and collapsed in the Merthyr Poundland doorway. Unfortunately he has triggered the alarm and caused a commotion with police sirens wailing and choppers circling overhead. He confronts his wife when he returns from his nocturnal adventures:

Tol is missis when ee got ome
'Google it...I'm fake news, see....
MAN IN MERTHYR ACTING SUSPICIOUSLY -
I woz famous f doin nothin.'
She sayd, 'Nothin's changed 'en!'

The illustrations, by Alan Perry, are exquisite throughout and wrap around the words on the page to produce an almost graffitti-like effect which enhances the power of the poems.

Fans of dialect poetry may recall our reviews of previously published collections by Mike Jenkins. If not you will find them here: Barkin! and here: Sofa Surfin . 'From Aberfan t Grenfell' will delight all aficianados of Mike's dialect poetry and hopefully win him new admirers as well. In giving the dispossessed and disadvantaged a voice Mike Jenkins is creating a growing body of work which is at once insightful and compassionate, humorous and harrowing. Unreservedly recommended, buy it now, here:- From Aberfan t Grenfell


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

Arthur: I was born and bred in Caerau, a small mining village situated at the top of the Llynfi Valley, Maesteg. My father was a miner, as were many of my immediate family. I am the third of six children.

During the second world war my mother worked at the Bridgend munitions factory, until she married my father. We didn’t have a lot growing up, but our parents gave us all values and manners which stood us in good stead for the rest of our lives and careers. We had a very happy childhood, and at the time Caerau colliery was flourishing and there was plenty of work in the village, unfortunately the colliery is no longer, which is very sad indeed.

In September 1967, at the age of 17, I joined the Glamorgan Constabulary, which subsequently became the South Wales Constabulary in 1969. I retired from the police service as a Detective Sergeant in 1997 having investigated all form of major crime and counter terrorism. I then became a gardener. I worked mostly in nursing homes for individuals suffering with dementia. I retired completely in 2015.

AmeriCymru: When did you decide to write? What inspired you to take up the pen?

Arthur: After retirement I joined many coalmining sites on Facebook. One day I read a poem that had been posted. It was then that I decided to pen my first poem entitled ‘ABERFAN’ and from that day I haven’t stopped writing.

My main genres are Coalmining and the First World War, however I am able to pen poems about any subject.

My love of literature stems back to my time in comprehensive school, my biggest influence being my English Literature teacher Mr. David John, who was an inspiration, introducing me to all the war poets including Wilfred OWEN. Although I enjoyed poetry my career in the police service and my family took all of my time therefore I never did anything with the writing until I wrote ‘ABERFAN’.

AmeriCymru: What can you tell us about your collection:- 'An Industry Now Lost'?

Arthur: My first book of poems titled ‘AN INDUSTRY NOW LOST’ describes numerous mining disasters, and what it was like to work underground during the Victorian times, when lives meant nothing. I suppose you could say that my back ground growing up in a Welsh mining valley inspired me to write the 50 poem book.

AmeriCymru: How would you describe the effect of the loss of mining jobs in the Maesteg area and the valleys generally?

Arthur:  After the miner’s strike of 1985, the death knoll of mining in the Welsh valleys sounded, and all the pits were subsequently closed, leaving a great deal of unemployment and poverty, even to this day, some thirty odd years later the scars are there for all to see. Our valley towns have been decimated, and now younger generations have to travel far and wide for work.

AmeriCymru: You have also written a series of novels featuring Detective Chief Inspector Terry McGuire. Care to tell us a little more about the character and his cases?

Arthur: In February 2016, I was trawling through a closed Police site on Facebook, when I read a post from Nigel Williams, also a retired police officer and an author in his own right, who had self published books he had written. In the post he asked if anyone would like to write a book, so I thought to myself, I wouldn’t mind a crack at that, so I got in touch and we began corresponding over the internet. I wrote the first book ‘UNETHICAL CONDUCT’ in ten days and Nigel ‘polished it up’ and put it all together.

The first time I actually met Nigel in person was when he gave me the book. I had no intention of writing another book, until Nigel asked if we could write together. That day ‘The Terry McGuire Crime Thrillers’ were created.

Terry McGuire began as a Detective Inspector in the series and is now a Detective Superintendent. He is in charge of a major crime unit in South Wales and he has hand picked his team. McGuire is a workaholic, who must always get to the truth. He is empathetic with an edge about him. He is a family man with two grown up children who live abroad. He is supported by his long suffering wife Molly who loves him to bits.

People who have read the books, and know me say that McGuire is modelled on me, to some degree he is, however when I created him, I didn’t have that in mind. All the cases that McGuire and his team deal with are serious and steeped in murder and corruption, and the stories are mostly set in and around South Wales.

At present there are eight books in the series:-

‘Unethical Conduct’ ‘Edge of Integrity’, ‘Death and Depravity’, ‘Angel of Death’, ‘Nest of Vipers’, ‘Nighthawker’, ‘Redemption’ and ‘Betrayal’.

Nigel and I are just editing the ninth in the series, ‘Ravwn’, which will hopefully be published later in the year.

AmeriCymru: You have donated the proceeds from some of your book sales to charity. What good causes have your readers supported by buying your titles?

Arthur: When we began self publishing the books, we donated the royalties amounting to around £2,000.00 to both ‘Marie Curie’ and ‘The Garnwen Trust’, Maesteg.

AmeriCymru: What's next for Arthur Cole? Any new titles in the works?

Arthur: In May 2017 I was lucky enough to sign a book deal with ‘Wordcatcher Publishing, Cardiff’ owned by David Norrington. David published my first two poetry books ‘An Industry Now Lost’ and ‘Poems for a Lost Generation - A tribute to those who fell in the Great War 1914-18’.

I have just completed my third book ‘50 Famous People’ which includes many famous Welsh people, which will be published in May this year.

Nigel and I have also signed a deal with David, who is in the process of re-publishing the first eight books in the Terry McGuire series. The books will have a more consistent professional presentation. The titles will not be changed, so that readers who have already bought them, will not purchase them a second time.

‘Unethical Conduct’ has recently been published on kindle, with a new cover. The paperback will hopefully be published within the next few weeks. All available via Amazon or from Wordcatcher Publishing.

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

Arthur: I would like to thank you Ceri, for giving me the opportunity to write about our literary exploits thus far, and hopefully members who may read the books will be able to enjoy and reminisce about their homeland.

The thriller web site can be found at https://terrry-mcguire-thrillers.com

Many Thanks

Arthur.

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Adjudication from Peter Thabit Jones

Americymru 2018 Poetry Competition results

It was a real pleasure to read such a variety of poetic voices among the submitted poems. Most of the entries pulled me into their worlds and kept me there for the duration of their unfolding. Many fine lines settled into ‘the larder of my heart’, to quote my dear American friend Vince Clemente, an emeritus professor and poet. As always, I was looking for a poet whose work revealed an individual and an original voice, something fresh in their offering of a compact and crafted use of language, a poet whose observations and feelings are brought together in a seamless way.

I was truly impressed by the poems of Peter Lewis, Peter Lautz, K. S. Moore, Paul Steffan Jones, and Michael Madden. They are all poets with a controlled array of strong writing skills and with very engaging approaches to their subject matter. It was a tough decision, but the somewhat delicate and yet deep poems of Peter Lewis are my choice for the winner of the 2018 Americymru Poetry Competition.

  The winner of the 2018 competition is Peter Lewis.

   Peter Thabit Jones
   Poet, dramatist, and publisher


Read the winning entries here:- Poems by Peter Lewis



Congratulations/Llongyfarchiadau to this year's winner Peter Lewis

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Adjudication from Mike Jenkins

''It was a tricky choice, but in the end I went for 'Flapper Girl' by Anisha Johnson, which really caught a moment in time very well. I really liked the humour of 'Nativity' as well."

The winner of the 2017 competition is Anisha Johnson.


Mike Jenkins


Read the winning entries here:- Flapper Girl by Anisha Johnson



Congratulations/Llongyfarchiadau to this year's winner Anisha Johnson

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ENGLISH/SAESNEG



CYMRAEG/WELSH

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Gwenno Dafydd - St David's Day Ambassador To The World



Gwenno Dafydd is the instigator of the Saint David's Day Anthem (Lyrics: Gwenno Dafydd Music: Heulwen Thomas) which was launched by The Presiding Officer of the Welsh Assembly Government, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas in 2008. She has been promoting and developing Saint David's Day activities worldwide since 2006 when the Saint David's Day Anthem 'Cenwch y Clychau i Dewi' (Ring out the bells for Saint David) was performed in public for the very first time in the National Saint David's Day Parade in Cardiff. She has instigated the tradition of 'County Banners' throughout Wales to celebrate Saint David's Day. This year, the first County Banner, The Pembrokeshire Banner, which is kept on permanent display in the East Cloister in Saint David's Cathedral, will be joined by two new County Banners, those of Montgomeryshire and Carmartheshire.

The Saint David's Day Anthem, which will this year be sold from the very prestigious Ty Cerdd website, patron Karl Jenkins, alongside the music of Welsh composers such as Grace Williams, William Mathias, Morfydd Llwyn Owen and Gareth Glyn. The Saint David's Day Anthem has been performed not only in Wales but also numerous times in Canada, Los Angeles, Patagonia, Disneyland Paris and the Houses of Parliament. Every year the Pembrokeshire Banner is paraded around Saint David's Cathedral whilst local school children sing the Saint David's Day Anthem.

She has created an Iphone App to learn the Welsh National Anthem and is the author of 'Stand Up & Sock it to them Sister. Funny Feisty Females' which had been described by Funny Women, the UK's leading female comedy community as 'the ultimate canon of female stand-up comics'. She is a Leadership and Public Speaking Coach and works extensively via Skype and even has some clients in Los Angeles.


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