Ceri Shaw



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Category: Book News

New Welsh Reader 115

By Ceri Shaw, 2017-09-05


New Welsh Reader Autumn Edition (115)

Publication date: 1 September 2017

The autumn edition of New Welsh Reader includes exclusive extracts from entries to the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir. First place winner Catherine Haines’ memoir gives an insight into a young woman’s experience of anorexia while at Oxford University. As the Cambridge Weight Plan spins out of control, a post-grad’s academic subject, ‘the mind-body problem’, goes through an existential phase to become ‘extraordinary morality’ rather than a mental health problem. Second-placed ‘The Case’ by MJ Oliver tells the story of Jim, an emigrant from England to Canada, as he awaits release from a progressive mental hospital and reconciliation with his baby daughter. He is in turns hopeful migrant, stowaway, farmer, thief, hobo, rough poet and ever-loving brother. Third-placed ‘People, Places and Things: A Life With the Cold War’ Adam Somerset paints a sweeping landscape of the Eastern Bloc as experienced through the eyes of a British backpacker. Beginning the Highly Commended entries, ‘The Red Circle’ by Maria Apichella is the story of daughter’s Pennsylvania road-trip with her Italian-American father. ‘On Shifting Sands’ by Liz Jones; a true tale of family rift and reconciliation, and finally ‘Boystown, SA’ by Robert and Amanda Oosthuizen, a story told by a husband to his writer-wife. Also included is an essay on spirituality and landscape in recent travel and poetry titles from Welsh publishers, covering Jim Perrin, Nathan Llywelyn Munday, Biddy Wells, David Lloyd Owen & the poetry of Ruth Bidgood.

POETRY FROM Rosie Garland, Charlie Bird, Ashleigh Davies, Ben Wilkinson, Meg Eden, Chris Emery, Manash Firaq Bhattacaejee and Michael Derrick Hudson.

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glyndwr call to arms.jpg The second installment of a new trilogy which tells the compelling story of the early years of Glyndŵr’s uprising is published this week.

Glyndŵr: To Arms! by the late Moelwyn Jones is an imaginary novel based on the real life and battles of Owain Glyndŵr. It follows the publishing of the bestselling  Glyndŵr - Son of Prophecy last Christmas.

The trilogy was completed before the author’s death in 2015.

Glyndŵr: To Arms! Offers a portrayal of the life of Wales’ revolutionary hero Owain Glyndŵr, resident bard and Glyndŵr confidant Gruffudd ap Caradog tells of a time at the beginning of the 1400s when a new spirit of Welsh pride was born; when the Welsh nobility put aside their differences to unite under the banner of the Red Dragon to seek justice and self-determination.

In a vivid and vibrant account of the first two decades of the 1400s, we hear of the adventures of master bard and master lover Iolo Goch, the brutal realities of medieval warfare learned at the hands of champion axeman Einion Fwyall, and of Gruffudd's impossible love for the wife of a leader he reveres above all others.

The third and final installment will follow early next year.

Author Moelwyn Jones was raised in Bancffosfelen, Carmarthenshire, and had a career as a Welsh teacher in Cardiff before joining the BBC as an Information Officer. He then became Head of Public Relations for Wales and the Marches Postal Board and following his retirement worked in the Welsh Assembly.

‘Moelwyn had a great interest in the history of Owain Glyndŵr,’ says Delyth Jones, Moelwyn’s wife. ‘He conducted extended research into Owain’s story. He was quite the hero to Moelwyn’.

The cover art was illustrated by Machynlleth based artist Teresa Jenellen.

Glyndŵr: To Arms! by Moelwyn Jones (£7.99, Y Lolfa) is available now

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lolian.jpg Y Lolfa publishers will begin their 50 th anniversary celebrations earlier than expected as they launch the private diaries of Y Lolfa founder and co-founder of Lol magazine, Robat Gruffudd, on Friday .

Lolian  is a collection of ‘eccentric and too honest’ personal diaries that Robat Gruffudd kept since the sixties. Written over the last fifty years, the diaries are published for the first time ever this year.

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

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

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

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

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

Other stories include the arrest of him and his wife Enid under false suspicion that they had played a part in the burning of holiday homes in the 80s.

His Jewish and German background is also illustrated – as well as the prosecution suffered by his family in Germany, which was the basis of the successful book written by his brother Heini, A Haven from Hitler, which won Book of the Year (as Yr Erlid ). It includes an entry where Robat visits Ravensbrück concentration camp where his grandmother was murdered by the Nazis during the second world war.

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

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

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alunthebear.jpg A true story that survived through the oral tradition is the subject of a new novel published by Y Lolfa publishers this week.

Pantywennol by Ruth Richards tells the story of Elin Ifans – a lively young woman in her teens who is hindered by the rural life of Pen Llŷn during the nineteenth century. Because of her obsession with the supernatural Elin is given the name ‘Bwgan Pantywennol’ (the Pantywennol Ghost) by the locals, which raises tensions and conflicts within the community between religion and supersition.

The novel is based on a true story which was kept alive by word of mouth.

‘I suppose what inspired me what the combination of studying nineteenth century literature for my MA and memories of old stories from Pen Llŷn I heard from my two Nain (Grandmothers)’ said Ruth Richards, ‘I got hold of a book by Moses Glyn Jones and Norman Roberts about the history of the ‘bwgan’ (ghost) and was somewhat surprised that no one had turned the story into a novel. What was so exciting was that there was plenty of history that had survived to form a basis which allowed me to construct a narrative around it myself.’

The novel revolves around the frustrations of a teenager who realises that the contraints of her Victorian life will allow little opportunity or adventure for her.

‘The fact that Elin was so young when the trouble happened was very appealing to me,’ explains Ruth, ‘I tried to recognise a certain ‘punk’ spirit that belonged to her. The kind of energy and raw defiance that makes the process of shaming her so much more unjust, and her fate even sadder still’.

The novel recieved high acclaim during the Medal Ryddiaith (Prose Medal) competition during the National Eisteddfod in y Fenni this year and came close to winning the top prize.

Fe gafodd y nofel ganmoliaeth uchel yng nghystadleuaeth y Fedal Ryddiaith yn Eisteddfod Genedlaethol y Fenni 2016 gan ddod yn agos at gipio’r brif wobr.

Judging the competition, Dafydd Morgan Lewis said,

‘From the outset I doted on this novel. I fell in love with her really’ says Dafydd, ‘This isn’t just a compelling story but very powerful writing as well’

Jane Aaron added that the novel echoed some American Gothic literature, such as Arthur Miller’s famous play, The Crucible .

Pantywennol is Ruth Richards’s first novel.

Ruth grew up in Cemaes, Anglesey, but now lives in Beaumaris. She was a student on the MA Creative Writing course at Bangor University and works for the lobbying organisation, Dyfodol i’r Iaith.

The novel will be launched at Oriel Plas Glyn Widow in Pwllheli at 2pm on Saturday 26th November . There will be readings from the novel and performances of ‘Baled y Bwgan’ (‘Ballad of the Ghost’) which is an old ballad about the story. Professors Angharad Price and Gerwyn Wiliams will also be in conversation with Ruth Richards.

Pantywennol by Ruth Richards (£7.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

Please note: this book is in Welsh

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alunthebear.jpg At 10.30am on Friday 11 th of November, at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital in Cardiff, Lucy Owen will be launching her first book for children – Boo-a-bog in the Park .

A familiar face on BBC Wales, Lucy is also an Ambassador for the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Charity and all royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to the charity.

Children from the hospital will be invited to celebrate the launch of the new book and enjoy a storytelling session with Lucy and husband Rhodri Owen, whose Welsh adaptation of the book, Bw-a-bog yn y Parc , will also be launched on the same day.

Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Charity Director Suzanne Mainwaring says,

“Lucy is such an incredible advocate of the Noah’s Ark Charity and we’re hugely thankful to her for choosing us as the beneficiary of her first book. Reading and telling stories is a central part of every childhood and as a charity that has children at the heart of everything it does, this seems like the perfect fit.

“We hope that families for generations to come will enjoy hearing the story of Tom and his monster, just as many will benefit from the proceeds it helps to raise.”

Boo-a-bog in the Park is a wonderful, reassuring, rhyming story about a little boy called Tom who finds it difficult to make new friends.

When asked what inspired her to write the book, Lucy explains that,

‘This story is about a little boy getting through a difficult time. But with the help of his imaginary monster friend Boo-a-bog, Tom finds his strength. For me, the theme of the story felt like a lovely fit with the Noah’s Ark Charity. It would be wonderful if the book helps raise money for this very special facility we have for children in Wales.”

The heart-warming story is beautifully complemented by Andy Catling’s illustrations and has already gained praise from some well-known personalities including Wales Football Team Manager Chris Coleman who said,

“A delightful, rhyming story with excellent imagery which I’m really looking forward to reading with my children.’

Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys also enjoyed the story and the positive message it conveys,

“This is a beautiful song of hope for the Tom in all of us… If only there WERE Boo-a-Bogs in adult life too. Lucy's obvious flair and talent for rhyme lets this poem of hope fly.”

Boo-a-bog in the Park is available from all good bookshops and online retailers.

For more information, please visit www.gomer.co.uk


alunthebear.jpg About the author:

  • Lucy Owen lives in Cardiff with her husband Rhodri Owen and their son, Gabriel
  • Lucy is a familiar face on BBC Wales as she presents the BBC Wales evening news and consumer show, X-Ray
  • Before moving to BBC Wales, Lucy co-presented Wales Tonight on ITV Wales
  • Known for her charity work she supports many charities and is an Ambassador for the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Charity



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The New Welsh Writing Awards 2017, run by New Welsh Review in association with Aberystwyth University and AmeriCymru, opens for entries on 26 September with two new categories, the Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir and AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella.

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

This year sees the Awards open up to fiction and memoir, welcoming sponsorship from Aberystwyth University, the core sponsor and host of New Welsh Review, and US online magazine and social network AmeriCymru. The Awards are run in partnership with Curtis Brown, Gladstone’s Library and Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre.

New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies will judge both categories with Welsh-American writer David Lloyd co-judging the Novella category. David is the author of nine books including poetry collections and novels, and directs the Creative Writing Program at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.

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

The Awards are open to all writers based in the UK and Ireland plus those who have been educated in Wales. The AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella is also open to writers based in the US and Canada. Entries close at midnight on 1 March 2017. Full details, including terms and conditions, can be found online at www.newwelshwritingawards.com .

The longlist will be announced online on 3 April 2017, with the shortlist announced at an event at Aberystwyth University on 4 May 2017 and the winner at an event at Hay Festival on 1 June 2017.

Gwen Davies , editor of New Welsh Review says: 'We are seeking evocative, succinct and authentic short book-length manuscripts in English. For the novella category they will be between 8,000 and 30,000 words. For the memoir, between 5,000 and 30,000. If your top drawer hides a novella with the punch of Animal Farm or the poignancy and dialect of Mihangel Morgan's Pan Oeddwn yn Fachgen ; or the bite, and visceral local feel of memoirs such as Mary Karr's The Liars' Club or the sheer cheek of Charles Nicholl's The Fruit Palace , we want to hear from you.'

Co-judge David Lloyd says ‘I am delighted to serve as co-judge for the AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella. Ever since writing a novella for my first book of fiction, I have loved the form, which combines the intensity of the short story with the expansiveness of the novel. It can be devoured in one sitting or put down and picked up for leisurely reading. Anyone who has read James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness , Carson McCullers’ The Ballad of the Sad Café , or Kate Chopin’s The Awakening will know the pleasures of this genre in the hands of masters. I also very much value the international scope of this contest, which I hope will draw out authors from diverse backgrounds who write – or who are now inspired to try – the novella.’

Louise Marshall , Head of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University, said: ‘We are delighted to be working with New Welsh Review to find the best writing talent in Wales and beyond. Memoirs are a fascinating and often surprising literary form and, just as these Awards have already celebrated Mandy Sutter’s and Eluned Gramich’s beautifully crafted and enthralling works, we are very much looking forward to discovering equally talented writers in the future.’

Ceri Shaw, co-founder of AmeriCymru, added, ‘AmerCymru is honored to be offered this opportunity to partner with the New Welsh Review and Aberystwyth University. We founded AmeriCymru to increase awareness of Wales and Welsh heritage and to bring Wales and its arts, including literature, to the attention of more people around the world. This competition provides voice and opportunity to new and upcoming writers, and we are excited to be able to contribute to this effort.’


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(from left to right, Gwenllian Jones (Office Manager), Carolyn Hodges (English language editor), a Robat Trefor (Welsh language copy editor)

Lolfa publishers have welcomed three new staff members this month.

Gwenllian Jones has been appointed Office Manager, Carolyn Hodges as English language editor and Robat Trefor as Welsh language copy editor.

Gwenllian Jones, the new Office Manager, is from Aberaeron originally and graduated from Aberystwyth University. She previously worked with Avanti in Cardiff before moving back to Ceredigion.

‘I’m glad to be back in Ceredigion and look forward to working for such a busy and colourful company!’ said Gwenllian.

The new Welsh language copy editor is Robat Trefor from Anglesey who will also be working part time at Ysgol y Gymraeg in Bangor university.

‘Its quite a responsibility but I’m very happy to be joining the team and returning to the world of books!’ said Robat Trefor.  

Carolyn Hodges will be stepping in to the role of English editor – which is a new job at Y Lolfa.

Carolyn comes from Buckingham in England originally and began her editing career at Oxford University press where she worked for 14 years.

‘I learnt Welsh myself by using Say Something in Welsh and had always dreamed of moving to Wales to live and to be able to speak the language everyday,’ said Carolyn, ‘so I feel very lucky to be given this opportunity.’  

Said Y Lolfa’s managing director, Garmon Gruffudd,

‘It is with great pleasure that we welcome Gwenllian, Robat and Carolyn to our team at Y Lolfa. All three are very experienced and will be a great asset to the company as Y Lolfa continue to publish new and exciting publications in Welsh and English.’

Y Lolfa will be celebrating their 50 th anniversary next year.  

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Today marks the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth in Cardiff, Wales.

He wrote children's books including 'Matilda' 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' and 'The BFG'

In his autobiography ‘Boy’ Dahl talks about his childhood in Wales.

Wales is celebrating the centenary with a number of events:

http://www.roalddahl100.wales/ whats-on/

How Welsh was Roald Dahl? Find out in a BBC interview with Prof Damian Walford Davies author of ‘Roald Dahl: Wales of the Unexpected’ and Lleucu Siencyn CEO of Literature Wales:

http://www.bbc.com/news/ entertainment-arts-36963989

Above picture:- Photographer Carl Van Vechten

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A pioneering new book aims to present a journey through Welsh history and ‘introduce the people of Wales’ to their own history through the Welsh Christian experience.

Our Holy Ground - The Welsh Christian Experience by John I Morgans and Peter C Noble tells of the Welsh Christian story and, through showing how it is rooted in localities, tells the story of Wales.

‘This is for the people who live in Wales to learn about their own story – a story which continues to be contemporary and relevant.’ John and Peter explained,

‘We want the people who live in Wales to know their own shared story.’ they added. This is the first book of its kind which attempts to tell the Welsh story from the widest possible perspective, whilst also being a readable retelling of old and recent revisions of Welsh history and integrating both the ‘secular and religious story’.

John Morgans wrote the book and Peter Noble was the photographer. Both were aware that when they were introducing ministers from other countries to come and serve in Wales, the ministers were oblivious to the different national context and there was no straightforward book which they could recommend.

The answer seemed to be ‘put that right yourself’.

‘Our joint experience confirms our awareness that this is a story which is no longer being shared.’ they explained, ‘The majority in the churches have no concept of the wholeness of the story. Welsh denominations, as they weaken, are focusing on their own separate history and stories.’

‘But this historic story belongs to all the people of Wales. Our hope is that this book will alert the church and the wider public that there is one great story which belongs to everyone.’ they said.

‘This book is the appropriate history of a movement.’ added t he Rt. Rev. Dom Daniel OCSO, Abbot of Caldey, ‘This publication is not just a history book among many others but a re-telling the story in a way our ancestors would have done from generation to generation.’

The volume includes over a hundred photographs taken by Peter Noble as he travelled throughout Wales over a period of several years.

‘The photographs are an integral element to the book, the unique collection of images illustrating the historic narrative and at the same time the awareness of a contemporary journey.’ said Peter.

Two of these images include Our Lady of Penrhys and The Guardian of the Valleys monuments respectively which feature on the front cover.

‘The images we chose for the cover were deliberate’ they explained, ‘They symbolise a journey of discovery into forgotten Welsh history.’

John I. Morgans was born in Tylorstown, Rhondda and studied history, theology and church history at Swansea, Oxford and Hartford, Connecticut before ordination in 1967. His first pastorate included the United Reformed Church in Llanidloes and the Welsh Independent Church in Glanhafren. His ministry continued with the URC in Manselton, as Moderator for the Wales Synod, and at Llanfair, Penrhys where, with his wife Norah, he helped form the ecumenical church. He retired from pastoral ministry in 2004. Our Holy Ground is his sixth book.

Peter C. Noble was raised in Brynmawr, Gwent. Following service in the RAF he studied for ministry in the United Reformed Church at Manchester. Ordained in 1983 his ministries have been Brecon, Libanus and Cwmcamlais (UWI), Caerffili and Ystrad Mynach, Chaplain to Higher Education in Cardiff, Synod Training Officer, and Moderator for the National Synod of Wales. He is presently Ecumenical Chaplain in Cardiff Bay.

Our Holy Ground – The Welsh Christian Experience by John I Morgans and Peter C Noble (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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The autumn edition of New Welsh Reader includes exclusive extracts from entries to the New Welsh Writing Awards 2016: University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing including the winning essay ‘Bush Meat: As My Mother Told Me’ by Mandy Sutter, which depicts a Nigerian domestic scene where subtle and interdependent racial and class issues are seething under a tight lid. ‘The Rains of Titikaka’ by John Harrison recounts the rise and fall of the pre-Columbian city of Tiwanaku in Bolivia, ‘Stranger Shores’ by Karen Philips looks at the underground (and underwater) currents of Mayan culture in the Yucatan, Mexico; ‘Seven Days: A Pyrenean Trek’ by Nathan Llywelyn Munday depicts the highs and lows of the grand narrative on trek through the Pyrenees; the etiquette of the Trans-Siberian station pitstop is narrated in ‘Moscow to Beijing on Train Number Four’ by Julie Owen Moylan and ‘No Situation is Permanent’ by Hannah Garrard follows the progress of a pioneering school from its refugee-camp origins in Ghana.

There is also an exclusive extract from Cynan Jones’ new novel Cove (Granta) publishing in November 2016. Out at sea, in a sudden storm, a man is struck by lightning. When he wakes, injured and adrift on a kayak, his memory of who he is and how he came to be there is all but shattered. Now he must pit himself against the pain and rely on his instincts to get back to shore, and to the woman he dimly senses waiting for his return. With its taut narrative and its wincingly visceral portrait of a man locked in an uneven struggle with the forces of nature, this is a powerful new work from one of the most distinctive voices in British fiction.

In addition there is new poetry from Wales Book of the Year 2016 category winner Philip Gross , Argentinian poet Daniel Samoilovich, Chilean poet Malu Urriola, (both translated by Richard Gwyn), Ian McLachlan, Syed Shehzar Mukkarim Doja, Agatha Abu Shehab and CM Buckland.

New Welsh Reader editor Gwen Davies talks through the edition highlights:

New Welsh Reader poetry submissions editor Amy McCauley explains why she chose Philip Gross' poems:

Cynan Jones will be reading from Cove at Chapter’s First Thursday on 3 November at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff.



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