Tuesday, 22 June 2010


The winners of the Welsh Artist of the Year Awards were announced on Sunday. Elfyn Lewis beat 400 other artists to scoop the £2000 top prize and title of Welsh Artist of the Year 2010 for his abstract acrylic painting Pwll Crochan. The other stars of the show are:
Runner up and Sculpture: Emily Jenkins, Cardiff
Drawing: Richard Monahan, Swansea
Photography: Llinos Lanini, Mold (see above)
Printmaking: Tom Piper, Cardiff
New media: Gemma Copp, Swansea
Student: Phil Lambert, Cardiff
Applied arts: Ashraf Hanna, Haverfordwest
Highly commended: Jacqueline Alkema, Cardiff
The Welsh Artist of the Year exhibition runs until 6 August at St David’s Hall Cardiff.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

BYT: Strike a Pose

Strike a Pose

Ha! Look! This is the BYT’s editor, Lucy. Don’t be scared. She was  striking a pose for the Passport Photos with Soul project run by Man About Town Tom Beardshaw on Sunday. The Bright Young Things were at the Cardiff Identity Festival at Cardiff Arts Institute to perform our words, pose for photos and catch up on each other’s worlds for the first time since Hay. We have considered getting a cardboard cut out for Wil, perhaps one of his modelling shots, to square our triangle.
We kicked off events on a checkerboard stage. Tyler, myself and James read from our FORTHCOMING TITLES (I still love saying that) for 15 minutes each and then asked each other quick fire questions. I found out that Tyler wants to be Spiderman. I’m arachnophobic but can appreciate how fun it would be to climb buildings like that. What I can’t appreciate is the man who breeds spiders who I met at an art opening on Friday. He has over 5000 of them. That fact killed our conversation. I also realised how well I have been managing to ignore the World Cup. Vuvuzelas are pests? You what?
Other highlights of the event included Matt Jarrett (Balloon) stage diving onto a pile of bean bags, rock’n’roll
and this:
Thanks Balloon and Undeb Theatre. It was a blast!
Next up? I’m off to Glastonbury to do storytelling, and have a birthday. Fun times :)

Thursday, 10 June 2010

MS: 2010 Academi Cardiff International Poetry Competition

The Mslexia Blog

Jane Aspinall (Second Prize)
Jane Aspinall (Second Prize)
Poetry Means Prizes. At least for some… and it is definitely prizes time for Welsh National Literature Development Agency and Society for Authors Academi this month. This time it is the turn of their 2010 Cardiff International Poetry Competition. The winning poets and their respective poems were announced by Poetry Waleseditor and competition judge Zoë Skoulding and National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarkeat a posh lunch at St. David’s Hotel & Spa in Cardiff Bay yesterday.
The 2010 competition was judged by Zoë Skoulding and Jackie Kay, with Tiffany Atkinson as filter judge. Here’s who they chose as the best-best-best:
First Prize – £5,000! – was awarded to Giles Goodland from West London for his poem The Bees which the judges described as ‘not so much a poem about bees as a poem that does something bee-like, cross-pollinating words to make a landscape that sings in an unexpectedly fertile language.’ Giles, who works in Oxford as a lexicographer, has published a number of poetry collections the most recent being Near Myths (Oystercatcher, 2010).
Second Prize of £500 was awarded to Jane Aspinall, a university senior lecturer in law and management from the Wirral, for her poem Tambourine. A pamphlet of Jane’s poetry called American Shadow will be published by Smith Doorstop Books this June.
Marilyn Jenkins from Llantwit Fardre was awarded Third Prize of £250 for her poem Taking Delivery which the judges described as “a brilliant example of how a poem can work through letting objects do the emoting”. Marilyn, who is a member of Academi, had her first collection of poetry, Close Distances, published by Cinnamon Press in 2007.
The five runners-up in the competition each receiving £50 were:
  • John Leslie Brooke from Worcestershire for his poem Tswana
  • Naomi Foyle from Brighton for her poem Shaking the Bottle
  • Atar Hadari from London for his poem Two Kids
  • Jane Kirwan from London for her poem Lásko
  • Hugh McMillan from Dumfries and Galloway for his poem My Father from Extant Sources
Academi Boss Peter Finch is never short of words at these occasions, and waxed lyrical about the competition, claiming it: ‘fixes the city of Cardiff right in the heart of the poetry world. 2010 was a bumper year in terms of both number of entries and the quality of the poems. The winner, Giles Goodland has proved himself to be a world class poet. Cardiff is a now cultural epicentre. In these guises long may they both continue.’

BYT: Hay Diddle Diddle

Bright Young Things Logo

JUNE 2010: Hay Diddle Diddle

Happy Bunny
Quick note today to say I have a blog about the last of my antics at Hay Festival now live and kicking over on MslexiaVisual Poetry & Fringe Benefits
I have also been booked for storytelling at this year’s Glastonbury — Yes! — and to perform poetry with the lovely Patrick Jones at Green Man Festival. Susie is a happy bunny :)

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


Cate Le Bon
How The Light Gets In: The Philosophy And Music Festival at Hay Festival
Wed 28 May-Sun 6 June
Where the main festival site of The Guardian Hay Festival is all white marquees, asparagus sellers and summer wedding attire, the institute of art and ideas presents a much more vibrant affair with philosophy lectures and music workshops, delicious cakes, and beautiful bar staff adorned with feathers and face-painted flourishes. An altogether more delightfully inviting place to chill out, or let your hair down and have many a dance.
Expanding into the globe field, this year the festival offered a tea tent and cocktail bar, an talk yurt and an open mic/ acoustic stage. In between taking advantage of their wifi in the mornings and traipsing back to base camp late at night I idled many an hour away in the field watching ukele players, poets, giggling entertained children, and being bought Pimms by some real characters including Scary Guy. Then we’d be ushered indoors and into the hall to catch Live Sessions from the sensational live poet Dockers MC, the unstoppable poetry, music and performance of the Book Club Boutique, the unique Welsh songstress Cate Le Bon, the (very) Sweet Baboo, the ‘chic geek’ scot King Creosote,  up-and-coming Jonathan Powell, shoegazing Man Without Country and the magical folk wonders of Martha Tilston.
Those wanting to expand their mind needn’t have reached for the drugs with philosophy sessions offered on all aspects of being human from language, sex and culture to emotion, truth, mortality and sanity and featuring big thinkers like Robert Winston, Frank Furedi and John Dupre and journalists like Will Hutton and Tom Hodgkinson discussing the meaning of life. Apparently there is much more to it than simply ‘42’.
As the witching hour approached it was time to get sweaty and move down the narrow staircase to stomp about to the Night Sessions including the best new live band around (Islet, believe me they are bloody marvellous),  and get dance crazy to the tunes Broken Hearts, Bethan Elfyn and Huw Stephens chose to play.
An eclectic programme, great performances, pleasant staff and tip-top atmosphere made this THE town venue to visit. No longer a fringe event but a festival in its own right, don’t forget to visit How The Light Gets In next year.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

MS: Visual Poetry and Fringe Benefits

The Mslexia Blog

Pascale Petit (by Kitty Sullivan)
Pascale Petit (by Kitty Sullivan)
I am home sweet home after 10 days at Hay, exhausted, tanned and a lot more cultured. What a time! Following on from my first long weekend I got up relatively early on Wednesday and went along to the Ritzy Stage on the main festival site to see Seren poet Pascale Petit read from her poetry collection What The Water Gave Me interpreting the life and work of Frida Kahlo, a favourite painter of mine. The poems are insightful and emotionally charged. Later Pascale talks about using Frida as a mask, a way to talk of the difficult times in her own life without writing confessional poetry, or drawing the spotlight to close to herself. The technique is very effective. Afterwards I spent Wednesday preparing for the Hay Poetry Jamboree, working through my reading list, and catching up with friends to see comedy (Ross Noble) and music (The fabulous Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club, one of my long-standing albums to write to, and quite brilliant live).
Thursday saw the launch of the three-day fringe poetry festival – Hay Poetry Jamboree – featuring plenty of poets, poetry lovers and sunshine. After an hour of wine and chatter we were treated to two outstanding performances by Childe Roland (aka Peter Meilleur) and former editor of Poetry Wales, Robert Minhinnick. Both poets embrace the visual in their work. Roland displayed the world’s biggest pop-up book – a long stretch of concertinaed white paper along one length of the wall – and performed A Pearl, and an extract from Ham & Jam accompanied by the charming poet Sophie McKeand (one-to-watch). Minhinnick read poetic narrative from his new book Fairground Music (Gomer) examining the seaside holiday resort of Porthcawl . His readings were accompanied by live music and projections of the witty photographs taken by Eamon Bourke. I found both to be fascinating, mesmerising sessions offering plenty of inspiration on performance possibilities for word and the image, a current obsession of mine in new work. I’d recommend you have a read of the latest issue of Poetry Wales for some great essays and examples on this.
Friday morning and it was my turn to take to the stage, to host the Word Cloud session and perform poetry along with confident young talents Mab Jones, Sion Tomos Owen and Jack Pascoe. The event was fun, eliciting laughs, further experiments and new ideas. You can see some of the word clouds online.
Lucy Llewellyn interviews Tyler Keevil and James Smythe, my fellow BYTs
Lucy Llewellyn interviews Tyler Keevil and James Smythe, my fellow BYTs
Afterwards I dashed up to catch the last few minutes of my fellow Bright Young Things (new novelists Tyler Keevil and James Smythe) in discussion with our Parthian editor Lucy Llewellyn before we grabbed a quick bite to eat and a natter. It was exactly a year since we had been up in Hay promoting the Nu: fiction & stuff anthology and meeting each other for the first time. Luckily we get on incredibly well. After a quick interview with a journalist from Swansea Life magazine Tyler, Lucy and I headed back to the Poetry Jamboree to see a great selection of short films curated by Elysium Gallery as well as poetry from a number of the festival poets includingKeri Finlayson, Claudia Azzola, and Samantha Rhydderch. We also managed to squeeze in to Rachel Trezise’s standing room only event in Hay Library talking about life in the South Wales valleys before the final poetry event of the day – Geraldine Monk and Alan Halsey rounded up my Friday night. I have only recently discovered Geraldine’s impressively innovative work, but instantly adored it. In person the Sheffield-based poet is exactly as sharp-witted and wide-eyed delightful as I imagined, and gave an engaging performance. I recommend this book if you want to get to know her work better too:  The Salt Companion to Geraldine Monk.
On Saturday literary types who were at Hay for the long haul were starting to flag. Energies had to be revived with big breakfasts, plenty of caffeine and some sofa-based reading in Richard Booth’s bookshop with some good pals visiting from London. Body and soul revived slightly it was time for the final day of the Hay Poetry Jamboree, withPoetry Wales at the helm of programming. The afternoon event featured readings by the journal’s editor Zoe Skoulding as well as contributors Randolph Healy, Ian Davidson, Jean Portante, and Carol Watts. Afterwards we took it in turns to feed performance artist Kathryn Ashill cake in the chapel vestry before gathering for the festival finale. Magical performances from poets Elisabeth Bletsoe and Caroline Bergvall led us deep into the evening before  plenty of happy poets danced along to dada band Chicken of the Woods. Good times.
On Sunday my good friend Naomi calls me early, acting as personal alarm clock to allow me plenty of time to pack my bags before my last performance of the main festival. Bags packed, flowery frock picked and hair straightened I headed to the Green Room to meet up with my fellow readers Mathew Andrews  and Niti Jain and our interviewer Dr Paul Wright. After we had planned the running order of the session we joined friends to eat strawberries on the green before taking to the stage in Culture Cymru. We were there to read from our debut publications and talk about the pros and cons of Creative Writing programmes. Whether the cost was worth it, and whether writing could actually be taught.
Wales Book of the Year Shortlist 2010
After our discussion and the ensuing Q&A session with the audience we cleared the stage and grabbed a glass of bubbly in anticipation of the next event – the announcement of the shortlist for the Wales Book of the Year 2010. My guess work was completely out, I only got one prediction right for each language category (Philip Gross and Caryl Lewis, if you are interested). So probably for the best that I didn’t place a bet!
Terri Wiltshire
The three titles on the English-language short list are:
I Spy Pinhole Eye, Philip Gross (Cinnamon)
The Compilation of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, Nikola Tolstoy (The Edwin Mellen Press)
Carry Me Home, Terri Wilshire (Macmillan)
Caryl Lewis
Caryl Lewis
The three titles on the Welsh-language short list are:
Naw Mis, Caryl Lewis (Y Lolfa)
Banerog, Hywel Griffiths (Y Lolfa)
Cymru: Y 100 lle i’w gweld cyn marw, John Davies (Y Lolfa)
Ian Gregson, Chair of the English-language panel said: “This very diverse list contains a novel, a book of poems and a work of criticism: together they constitute an excitingly challenging set of texts which illustrates the powerfully innovative writing which is currently emerging in Wales.”
The English-and Welsh-language winners will be announced on Wednesday 30 June 2010 at ‘a Glittering Ceremony at The St David’s Hotel & Spa, Cardiff’ where each winner will receive a cheque for £10,000 and the four runners-up will each receive £1,000. The evening will be presented by BBC Political Editor, Betsan Powys and the winners will be awarded by Minister for Heritage, Alun Ffred Jones. Actor Steffan Rhodri will be the guest speaker. Meanwhile if you disagree with the shortlists you can vote for your favourite in the People’s Choice Award.