Wednesday, 29 September 2010


FEMALE WALES: University of Glamorgan Art Purchase Prize 2010
Until 18 October 2010 – Oriel y Bont, Ty Crawshay, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd
This University of Glamorgan’s 2010 touring exhibition has been selected by top arty in-the-know sorts including Brendan Burns, Professor Tony Curtis, Dr Anne Price-Owen, Dr Ceri Thomas and Frances Woodley. The show, curated by Dr Ceri Thomas, is based upon the theme of ‘Female Wales’ however the interpretations of this theme are varied and many.
The exhibition showcases work by the shortlisted artists eligible for the £3,000 Art Purchase Prize 2010 and those shortlisted for the £750 student prize. As such the range of the show is large. The exhibition encompasses instantly recognisable pieces by Iwan Bala – the mixed media works Hon V, Hon III and Hon XXXX in which the land mass of Wales takes centre stage as leading lady. His work draws inspiration from the 19th Century engraver Hugh Hughes Dame Wales and the sculpted maps of Bala’s late friend, Paul Davies.
Wendy Mayer’s autobiographical wax and papier-mâché sculptures consider the ageing process. Little Dancer, an 84-year-old homage to Degas, is a waist-height wizened ballerina, grey hair scraped back, hands held behind her back, lifelike eyes staring up at you. In contrast, Sarah Hope’s Cakeholic portrait (pictured) is a deliciously cheekier take on the Female Wales theme featuring the artist’s daughter having her cakes and eating them, ‘in an act of gluttony … of wanting to have it all, a compulsion to consume without discrimination.’
Of the newer recruits Tiffany Oben’s Blue Wallpaper (Tredegar House) impresses, a mixed media piece in which the sage green organza dress flows out of the photograph covered in trinkets and oddities – dolls’ heads, bottles, dried flowers, hair, moths, knife, keys and more. The things that weigh women down, or perhaps, rather than trapped in the frame, the figure is leaving the image, thus reflecting ‘the current status of woman in contemporary society faced with the potential to “have it all” in conflict with the expectations that determine her social roles.’ Elizabeth Brickell’s photographs of objects and buildings also take on new lives. She focuses on ‘the way time, dereliction and beauty can be woven together … [and] explores the disorderly aesthetics of the ruin and the relationship between object, place and person.’ Brickell captures site-specific interventions, in which she creates latex and wax casts of parts of a door, peeling wallpaper and old bottles, leaving the viewer haunted.
The 10 professionals shortlisted for the £3000 prize are Susan Adams (Brecon), Iwan Bala (Cardiff), Colin Barfoot (Swansea), Ivor Davies (Penarth), Sarah Hope (Newport, Pembrokeshire), Kunte Howell-Ojidade (Bristol), Robert Alwyn Hughes (Cheltenham), Wendy Mayer (Bangor), Paul Rees (Neath) and Philippa Robbins (Penarth).
The six students shortlisted for the £750 prize are Elizabeth Brickell (Swansea Metropolitan University), Ella Edwards (University of Wales Newport), Sian Leung (University of Glamorgan), Susan Morris (University of Glamorgan), Tiffany Oben (University of Glamorgan) and Julia Rowlands (University of Glamorgan).

BYT: Snap Happy

Bright Young Things Logo
SEPT 2010
Snap Happy

London Launch: We are the Bright Young Things (Photo: Rosie Reed Gold)
Our Swansea Launch
Our Swansea Launch
Our books on display at the Bangor Launch (Photo: Josie Gritten)
So as you’ve seen/ heard we’ve been on tour around the country. It has been fantastic. Cheers. Each launch has had a totally different feel to it, but all have been lovely, from the family-centric, gentle beauty and wonderful inclusiveness of Bangor, to the Sunday hipsters drinking cocktails on leather sofas at London’s Vibe Bar. We’ve had a blast, and with tears in our eyes, we wave goodbye to Wil, and wish him a safe journey back to Oz. As well as travelling about a lot, we’ve also been getting some reviews. Here is what the press etc.  has said so far…
‘About the decisions that are made by generations before us that still affect our lives,Hereditation is a compelling and commendable first novel.’ Buzz, September 2010
‘It’s not your average family saga; it’s not your average anything…’ Swansea Lifemagazine, September 2010
Fireball, his debut novel, lives up to the Bright Young Things umbrella he’s been herded under. A group of four smart-but-wayward teens spend a summer attracting police attention, which is related by the most level-headed of the quartet in a blunt, youthfully surly but compelling manner.’ Buzz, September 2010
‎’This is a writer with real control and the ability to hook a reader from page one.’ Swansea Life magazine, September 2010
‘Nearly finished ‘Fireball’. Fuck it’s good. Really good.’ Matthew David Scott, Novelist, September 2010
There’s more of them to come…

Friday, 24 September 2010

BYT: I Feel Giddy World

Bright Young Things Logo

SEPT 2010
I Feel Giddy, World.

Us Bright Young Things are totally in love with you. You lovely people who have bought our books, come to our launches, written nice words about us, made us feel a bit dizzy and giddy like rockstars on too much champagne, or novocaine or something. There now follows lots of thank you type stuff, and some other words. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
THANK YOU Cardiff, and Waterstone’s and Bert and the other Waterstone’s The Hayes staff, and Deborah Kay Davies and all you beautiful friends for coming, and the person who made my spotty tights; I love them. And my new boots for arriving, just in time. ALSO Thanks Wil for flying over from Australia. It was ace to meet you, and all those great stories you had to tell about dark matter, and other concepts to explode our tired brains! There was much fawning by me over my book, and also blushing, the cover IS quite rude, and very shiny. I also had to decide how best to sign my name, I don’t have the best of autographs, apologies people.
THANK YOU Swansea. Thank you Uplands Bookshop for making us mugs of tea, and giving us biscuits, and letting us graffiti in your books with pens, and putting our books in the shop window. Thank you Waterstone’s Oxford Street — for employing me once, for still employing Susan who gave us more caffeine and let us put our books in the Booker Prize display for cheap thrills. Sorry dear silver haired women for swearing a little bit loudly when we were reading from our books.
THANK YOU Swansea. AGAIN. For the best book launch ever. I really didn’t expect so many of you to turn up to our FANTASTIC launch. But you did. Over a hundred of you. On a Friday night. We think you are great! In return there was some wine. There were goody bags. We read bits of our books. We answered questions about literary characters we’d be, books that had changed our lives, who we’d kill in our own books, that sort of thing. I hiked my dress up a lot. It was new, I didn’t realise it would do that. It wasn’t an intentional part of the show. Anyway the whole magic show was filmed by Spill Media. Hurrah! So we can play it to our grand kids and say, ‘yeah, I wrote a book, once,’ and our eyes will mist over and they’ll …change the channel, probably. THANK YOU Spill Media. THANK YOU Jo and Al at the Dylan Thomas Centre for being so ace.THANK YOU Rhys for the amazing cake, also. We like cake, and gifts in general. We also like dancing and VIP areas, so we lucked out on Friday, we really did.
The afterparty went on late. It finished on Monday morning for me. Then I had to bomb back to reality, do normal things like wash clothes, and get myself to a solo, none BYT gig in Carmarthen. I slummed it for the first gig of the past week. I wore jeans. Shocking I know, but I felt terrible. The long weekend had taken it’s toll and I couldn’t find my sunnies. I bought recovery milkshake and dropped by the Dylan Thomas Centre to pick up my 10 author copies of my book, and buy some at an author rate to sell at my gigs. I gratefully accepted a lift to the train station from our lovely Parthian editor Lucy. I stood at the station with a cardboard box full of books and thought ah, ‘this is it. The glamour of being a real writer.’ I waited for half an hour for the delayed train to arrive. I stood in the sardine-packed two carriage train with no windows that actually opened, holding my box of books smiling, serene. ‘This is the life,’ I thought. I was spat out of the train sweaty and nauseous at Carmarthen. ‘Brilliant,’ I exhaled dreamily. I carried my box of books up the big hill. I got to the pub I was reading in that night. Nobody was there except for a bar man and a corner of sloshed locals. I thought, ‘How wonderful, this was worth that pleasant journey. I am dead happy to be here. They look like they want me to read them poems and stories forever and ever. They do.’ I put the box down and ordered a drink. The room cheered…
So that was Poems & Pints in Carmarthen. No, actually, it was a wonderful evening in the end. I drank some juice and felt better. Had a pint, felt better again. A nice cosy crowd arrived. I bookended each set of the open mics with readings. A couple of people even bought my book — thanks Kevin and Bevin etc. I got the last train, got home and slept very, very well.
I’ve since had three whole days off from the limelight and I’m now preparing to join the other BYTs to do it all over again. We are launching the books in Bangor tomorrow, then I am performing poems at Fair Play Festival from 3pm Saturday, then I’m jumping on a bus to London ready for our BYT Brick Lane launch on Sunday. EXCITEMENT! See some of you there.
Oh, and I wrote a Mslexia blog about the Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist. FIVE WOMEN! No, I’m not one of them.
Hope to see you over the weekend. Hope you are loving the books. etc.
Thanks all!
Susie (and the BYTs) x

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

MS: Five women dominate the six-strong Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist

The Mslexia Blog

Good work Caroline Bird! As those who read my earlier posts will surely know, I am a big fan of this young, imaginative British poet who has previously been shortlisted for this very prize, and she is still ONLY 23. Gosh! Watering Can is fab, mind. I’ve reread it only this week. There are many poems that I like inside the covers. Poems like ‘Last Tuesday’, ‘Wedding Guest’, ‘Closet Affair’ and ‘Blame the Poodle’. Poems like ‘Road-Signs’:
You were travelling a grey motorway.
You had your baby in your lap
with enormous green eyes
and a scarily large head.
You parked the car in a lay-by, sat on the roof,
held her high like a trophy,
joked, ‘One day all of this will be yours
I am also looking forward to ploughing through the other titles on the shortlist before December’s winner is announced.
Emily M
Emily Mackie
The ‘most diverse shortlist to date’ for the £30,000 Prize, which is now awarded annually to talented writers under the age of 30, has revealed a six-strong shortlist from a longlist of 16, five of whom are female. The writers hail from five continents, and the six works consist of two poetry collections and four novels, covering topics from war and family to love and betrayal. Joining Caroline Bird in the running will be Somalian writer Nadifa MohamedThe Rehearsal author Eleanor Catton, American poet Elyse Fenton; andEmily Mackie, who currently resides in Bristol. Debut novelist Karan Mahajan completes the list with Family Planning.
Dylan Thomas Prize founder and member of the judging panel, Professor Peter Stead, commented: ‘As a panel, we were both pleased and surprised to see that the final six were predominately female writers, as there was a fairly even spread on the longlist. Regardless of gender, this is an outstanding shortlist that, in my opinion, rivals that of the world’s best-known literary awards.’
The winner will be announced at the final awards ceremony at Brangwyn Hall in Swansea, Wales on December 1st, 2010.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

MS: The Book Launch: A Mini Series, Part One

The Mslexia Blog

bytPreparing for a book launch is a little like – I imagine – preparing for birth may be, or your wedding day. Except better. Far better. In my eyes. So this week I’ve been worrying about the guest list, nesting, cleaning, plucking, preening and outfit planning. I’ve also been wondering if any of the guys are having the same reserves and rigmaroles as me. Probably not. I doubt they’ve bought new heels.
I’m having to put away any spoilt child tendencies too. For my book launch(es) will involve sharing the spotlight with the three other titles and authors that make up the Parthian Bright Young Things series – Tyler Keevil, Wil Gritten, and JP Smythe. This has pros and cons. Pros include getting to have more launches (Cardiff, Swansea, Bangor and London) as we pool marketing budgets, cons include the party not being exactly as you, singular, would want it – glitter, cupcakes, my favourite band in my case – and the impossibilities of arranging so many dates where all of us, and our publishers can attend. You think you’d be able to attend your own book launch, but in reality – when there are FIVE of them, and bookshop signings and other events – this isn’t always the case, which sucks, apologies to my Aberystwyth fans, but ‘smile’ (seethe quietly) and on with the show.
Launching with three others, and sharing all our press and marketing time, also means reading the other books too, ready for the onstage discussions. It could have proved a chore but I’ve just about found time to read them this week, scrolling through the typeset PDFs on screen at a rate of a book a day. Luckily they are all great reads from James’ thoughtful, funny family epic through Tyler’s anti hero coming of age flame-throwing jaunt to Wil’s globetrotting anecdotes packed with poetic snatches of strange locals and locales. Then there’s deciding what to read from my book on the day/night, deciding what to wear, fitting all my usual work into half the week, andheading out for two launches and two bookshop signing events in Cardiff on Thursday 16 September (Waterstone’s, 7pm) and Swansea on Friday 17 September (Dylan Thomas Centre, 7pm).
I’ll keep you posted on how they go.
Other news in brief:
National Poet Gillian Clarke is on tour of Wales this month.
BayLit Shock of the New Festival is shaping up nicely for October. The latest manifestation of Academi’s festival of literary innovation runs at a variety of venues spread across Cardiff Bay. Expect the strange and exciting. Expect to be entertained.
The Big Read (Wed 27 Oct, 10am – 4pm) is back. The celebration of reading and writing for all the family. The Riverfront programme of events for adults and young people features practical workshops, performances and talks on a range of topics, from the Victorian Gothic and fantasy crime novels to dub poetry and picture books. Guests include Patrick Jones, Jasper Fforde, Catrin Collier, Paul Manship, Menna Elfyn, Scott Quinell and many more.
Academi launches their new Writers’ Plaques website mapping all the memorial plaques for dead poets and scribes in Wales from John Tripp to Dylan Thomas.


Bright Young Things Logo

SEPT 2010


WOOHOO! ALL FOUR OF THE BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS BOOKS LAUNCH IN CARDIFF TONIGHT, THEN SWANSEA TOMORROW. [See post below for all the dates, times and venues!]. We are putting our party outfits on and thinking about getting trains, buses and magic carpets.
I’ve also written a couple of new blogs for Mslexia and The Guardian. Exciting Times!
See you later. WooHoo!

GUARDIAN CARDIFF: Bright young things: Live literature

Bright young things: Live literature season returns to Cardiff


Autumn is here and the Literati are flocking back home to Cardiff to party. Guest blogger and Parthian Books' Bright Young ThingSusie Wild talks you through the best events of the new live literature season

susie wild
Susie Wild reading her poetry at Green Man Festival. The Cardiff poetry scene is picking up again this month Photo: Rosie Reed Gold

Midsummer and poets and authors find themselves in wellies, stood damp and shivering on stages, in flapping tents competing with the main stage band – and the wind – to be heard as we perform to crowds, large and small, at festivals across the UK.
September comes and the festivals thin out, returning to the warmer realms of indoors, and we too flood back to the towns and cities. A little shell-shocked and still wearing wellies, for this is Wales. We dry out. We prepare for book launches and book tours. At least, that is how it has panned out for me. After a summer of performing poems and stories at the likes of Hay Festival, Hay Poetry Jamboree, Glastonbury, and Green Man I am back to Terra Firma and gearing up for the new season.

New on the lit scene - Bright young things

bright young thingsBYT logo
My debut collection of short stories The Art of Contraception launches tonight at 7pm at Waterstone's, The Hayes. I share the launch with the three other Bright Young Things – Tyler Keevil, J.P. Smythe and Wil Gritten – and their brilliant debut books. I've read them all this week, and I am totally gobsmacked by how great they are, and I'm really not just saying that. If Tyler's Holden Caulfield meets Stand By Me novel Fireball isn't made into a film, I might eat my hats. All of them. After Cardiff we then tour to Swansea, Bangor, Aberystwyth and London. Like a rock band without a tour bus. If you come along for the ride we'll even try and turn it up to 11. Fun times.

Cardiff literature events

Elsewhere the Cardiff literati are also waking up from summer slumber Regular literary events that have taken a summer sabbatical now yawn and stretch out their arms, beckoning us back into the fold, warming us up. Hello Seren's First Thursday. Waves. The Chapter Arts Centre-held First Thursday of the Month poetry readings are back. October features Carol Rumens and Anne-Marie Fyfe while November will see readings from John Haynes and Pascale Petit. The events start at 7pm, entry is a bargain £2 and new and established poets can read in the open mike second half. Also at Chapter, the brilliant Cardiff poet David E. Opravalaunches his latest poetry collection sole (Blackheath Books) on 30 September at 7.30pm. He's a great reader, do go see.

The ongoing Cardiff festival season

Festivals are not entirely banished this autumn either. I shall be performing alongside other willing and able poets including MAO Jones (brother of the infamous Mab) and Nick Fisk at the third outing of Fair Play Festival on Saturday 25 September (from 3pm). The three day arts festival will be bringing together a bonanza of the finest musicians, artists, traders, comedians, poets, families and party-goers alike. It runs from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 September at The Boiler House and tactileBOSCH in Llandaff North and promises good times by the 10-pint-round full.
Roll on to October and the line-up for the Academi literature festivalBayLit: Shock of the New is looking pretty damn amazing, and not just because I'm on it, twice (October 13October 30). The festival gathers together some of the best literary innovation around for, as Academi boss Peter Finch would say, the new is "still bloody shocking after all these years". I am really looking forward to seeing the innovative texting, performance, poetry and psych-pop event TXT2BayLit featuring a couple of my favourite performance poets Byron Vincent and 2009 John Tripp Award Audience Prize winner Liam Johnson. I'd also recommend the launch of the Seren series updating 'Mabinogion' stories by modern Welsh authors: Owen Sheers, Gwyneth Lewis, Niall Griffiths.
Elsewhere punk poet Attila the Stockbroker's 30th anniversary UK tourhits Cardiff Arts Institute on Mon 5 Oct and includes a poetry prize draw offering five lucky people to share some of the limelight. The Lyrical Design Slam on Sun 10 Oct at 10 Feet Tall also sounds interesting. Part of Cardiff Design Festival, it features design-themed poems in the first round and then anything goes in the final two rounds. Loving the poetry? There's more at the Made In Roath festival at The Gate on 15 October where Square presents J. Brookes, Mab Jones, Jack Pascoe, Gemma June Howell, Stuart Thomas and Aisling Tempany from 7.30pm.
susie wildSusie Wild
Susie Wild is a writer, poet, journalist and editor. She also has a book out. To buy it and to find out more information about Parthian's Bright Young Things visit their website here.