Ceri Shaw


 

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hear_the_echo.jpgThe timeless story of the search for a better life is the inspiration behind and message of Rob Gittins’ new novel, Hear the Echo, which is set around an Italian café in a vividly portrayed South Wales Valleys community.

The critically acclaimed novelist has also won awards for his screenwriting, and has written for numerous top-rated television drama series, including EastEnders, Casualty, The Bill, Heartbeat, Vera and Stella as well as many original plays for Radio 4. In 2015 he received an Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of his work as EastEnders’ longest-serving writer.

The novel weaves together two contrasting stories, both of Welsh-Italian women in the same Valleys community but living 80 years apart. Chiara is a first-generation immigrant and has to deal with religious bigotry and prejudice in the close-knit mining community in which she lives in the run-up to and during the Second World War. The other thread follows present-day Frankie, who has her own struggles to keep the wolf from the door.

Hear the Echo reveals unexpected connections and commonalities:

“Going back into history sometimes makes clear just how relevant seemingly old stories can be,” says Rob Gittins, before adding:

“The women are different, the historical period is different but the trials and challenges they face are exactly the same. Each is seeking to escape a world that is at one and the same time a home and a prison, each is trying to work out the opposing claims of duty and desire, each struggles to navigate hugely difficult economic circumstances.”

The story was partly inspired by a love of the old Italian cafés of the Valleys, which Rob Gittins started frequenting after moving to Wales in the 1970s, and their unique character and tradition:

“They are extraordinary places, steeped in history and character, a far cry from the homogenised chain cafés that had already begun to appear by then and supplant them – a process that’s intensified over the years. There was always a magic about them – as well as a powerful sense of tradition – that I loved. They’ve brought so much to the Valleys, and really seem to represent the coming together of two very warm and welcoming cultures.”

But there was a second inspiration too:

“I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of ‘echoes’, the idea that – and despite all logic tells you – thoughts, emotions and characters can somehow reach you from across time. Sitting in some of those Italian cafés back in the 1970s, looking at all the pictures on the walls of the people who used to live and work there – it wasn’t difficult to imagine them still there somehow.

Out of that came the idea of two women intimately connected to one such café – the fictional, Carini’s, in this story. They’ve never met, they can never meet – but as the story progresses each becomes real to the other in ways neither quite understand.”

As one of the stories is set in the 1930s and 1940s, there was a fair amount of research to be done. As the author researched the era, mining communities, the high number of Italians who first moved to Wales in the 1930s and the xenophobia and religious bigotry that many faced, a clear message became apparent – similar issues have been affecting people throughout history:

“Both Chiara and Frankie are to some extent refugees. And refugees, in one form or another, are such a massive modern story. Modern day refugees have to undertake journeys and trials my two fictional characters could only wonder at, but the desire is exactly the same.

What Chiara and Frankie are celebrating is an impulse that beats even more strongly in the modern age in a sense; somewhere, out there, is something better and I want to find it.”

Hear the Echo will be launched Waterstones in Carmarthen at 6.30pm, on Thursday 19 July 2018. Free entry – a warm welcome to all!

Hear the Echo by Rob Gittins (£8.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

Posted in: New Titles | 0 comments

Dyddiadur A5 Y Lolfa Bilingual Diary


By Ceri Shaw, 2018-07-10

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Mae Dyddiadur newydd A5 Y Lolfa newydd gael ei gyhoeddi. Gellir ei archebu yma am £5.99 (& £2 cludiant os yw’r archeb yn llai na £10). Bydd ein dyddiaduron eraill yn cael eu cyhoeddi yn fuan.

Y Lolfa’s new A5 blilingual Diary has just been released. It can be ordered here for £5.99 (& £2 if your order is less than £10). Our other diaries will be available soon.

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Posted in: Book News | 0 comments

finding_wales.jpgIn a new book titled Finding Wales, author Peter Daniels writes in praise of the Welsh and what drives Welsh exiles such as himself to return to Wales.

Mark Easton, BBC News’s Home Editor, has recently enlightened us with the results of his study into English identity, The English Question Project, in which he claims that ‘interlaced English and British identities remain an important part of how the people of England see themselves. For many it seems the two are almost interchangeable’. ‘Britishness’ means Shakespeare, the House of Commons, idyllic English country villages, the stiff upper lip, being conservative and traditional.

According to Llanelli born and Llantwit Major based author Daniels, “This doesn’t sound like the talkative, passionate, warm, open hearted Welsh. So perhaps we should remind Mark Easton and the world at large what the Welsh are like, and how we actually differ from the English.”

As a Welsh exile in England, Peter had a successful career in market research, but the strong ties he retained with his homeland through the London Welsh RFC and the London Welsh Association led to a fascination with his own national identity. And in his first book, In Search of Welshness, published in 2011, he charted the ways in which exiles living in England attempted to hang on to their Welsh characteristics and values in a London dominated social and cultural scene.

In Finding Wales he delves into the reasons why such exiles, including himself, have returned to Wales. Some admittedly have been forced to return because of family responsibilities or economic necessity. And others speak of a value for money ‘good life’ that is to be had in Wales, against a backcloth of its scenic beauty. But many yearned for more, for the friendlier community spirit that they feel exists in Wales, or an even deeper hiraeth for either the Welsh language and culture, or for a less class ridden way of life than they had encountered in England.

These returning exiles need however not only to sing the praises of the Welsh, but also to raise their voices in an attempt to wrestle back from Westminster a far greater degree of self determination in their everyday lives. But for the moment let’s just wallow in Welsh character, friendliness and humour as we follow the exploits of Peter Daniels’s returning band of Welsh exiles.

And what better time to study Welsh personality and culture than in National Eisteddfod week. Both books will be available at the stall of publisher, Y Lolfa, throughout the week.

Posted in: New Titles | 0 comments

For those headed to the North American Festival of Wales (NAFOW) in the DC area later this year (Aug. 30 - Sept. 2), you still have an opportunity to enter one of our Eisteddfod competitions!

Everyone has a wide choice of seven (7) different competitions in singing or poetic recitation - suiting all ages and different levels of proficiency in Welsh. Singers can join our Semi-Professional (David Morris) competition to win a generous cash scholarship for travel to compete at next year's National Eisteddfod of Wales (Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru) in Llanrwst (North Wales).  The info./entry form is available at this link:  http://thewnaa.org/eisteddfod-competition.html .

All competitions are on Sat., Sept. 1, and are time-limited to help you enjoy everything else at the Festival.... So, enter today - or contact the Eisteddfod Committee with questions (see form) - and make yourself part of a great, historic Welsh tradition! 

Posted in: Events | 0 comments

Portland Noson Lawen 2018


By Ceri Shaw, 2018-06-15

Join us for an evening of music, song, and good times at our annual Noson Lawen, thrown by the Welsh Society of Oregon, and co-sponsored by Bryn Seion Welsh Church. Features the Welsh Society Choir, Andrea Wild & the Bad Wolves, our own children's troupe Y Ddreigiau Fach (Little Dragons), ViVoce Women's Chorus and the Bridgetown Morrismen.

Admission is sliding scale starting at $10 (with discounts for families). Doors open at 6:30 and the music starts around 7pm.

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Posted in: Events | 0 comments

    DOWNLOAD THE FLYER HERE

Gymanfa_Flyer_2018.pdf 83rd Annual Gymanfa Ganu Flyer
Gymanfa_Flyer_2018.pdf, 356KB

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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!

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Posted in: Cymraeg | 0 comments

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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 facebook.com/horizonscymru for all the latest news.

bbc.co.uk/horizons

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