We are Wales: disparate voices, landscapes and stories

British Council Literature Seminar, 4 – 6 March 2021

In 2021 the Welsh Government is celebrating an exciting Wales in Germany season with numerous partners in Germany. After its strong focus on Scottish literature and the  Scottish Literature Now! theme in Hamburg last year, the British Council Literature Seminar will feature contemporary writing from Wales at the Literaturhaus Stuttgart from 4 – 6 March 2021, in partnership with the Welsh Government, Literature Wales, and the cities of Cardiff and Stuttgart. 

The Welsh Government has launched a new campaign Wales in Germany 2021 to showcase the breadth of activity and exchange happening in Germany and in Wales across commerce, science and innovation, culture and the arts, education, alumni, tourism, civic links and sustainable development.

Wales is a nation open to new ideas, always inspiring, ready and willing to collaborate; a creative nation with talented people, a proud history and a rich bilingual culture to celebrate and share. Learn more about the Wales in Germany season and the platform of dialogue and exchange between Wales and Germany here.  

It is a great honour for us that Niall Griffiths and Dr Francesca Rhydderch, two renowned authors from Wales, will chair the British Council Literature Seminar 2021, both of them having been awarded the Wales Book of the Year Award. 

Due to current circumstances, the seminar will take place in a fully digital format. The seminar will take place online via Zoom. The introductory event will start on Thursday 4 March at 18.30 CET and the closing event will take place on Saturday 6 March at 19.15 CET. The seminar will consist of two public readings, presentations by four further literary voices from Wales, two panel discussions and four author-led workshops.

We are excited to welcome Welsh writers Professor Richard Gwyn, Zoë Brigley, Manon Steffan Ros and Professor Charlotte Williams OBE for readings, discussions and workshops. Additionally, new Welsh writers Joao Morais, Richard Owain Roberts, Hanan Issa, Eluned Gramich, Alex Wharton and Ifan Morgan Jones will be featured through specially commissioned films and will also take part in the panel discussions.

The event will also showcase National Dance Company Wales' new digital film project Plethu/Weave that brings together dancers from NDCWales, partnered with poets and commissioned by Literature Wales, to create short solo performances during lockdown.

The seminar will offer academics, students, publishers, translators and journalists from across Europe the chance to experience some of the best of Welsh literature and engage with writers and their work first-hand. 

Dolbadarn Castle, Snowdonia ©

Image courtesy of Welsh Government

Chair – Francesca Rhydderch

Francesca Rhydderch is a Welsh novelist and academic. In 2013, her debut novel, The Rice Paper Diaries, was longlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and won the Wales Book of the Year Award 2014 for Fiction. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines and broadcast on Radio 4 and Radio Wales.She was born in Aberystwyth and obtained a BA in Modern Languages from Newnham College, Cambridge, and a PhD in English from Aberystwyth University. She worked as the Editorial Assistant at Planet: The Welsh Internationalist, and became Associate Editor of the magazine in 1999. As the recipient of a BBC/Tŷ Newydd bursary in 2010, she attended the creative writing course by BBC Executive Producer Kate McAll and novelist Patricia Duncker. She was appointed Editor of New Welsh Review in 2002. In 2015, she and Penny Thomas edited the New Welsh Short Stories. She has been a Creative Writing Associate Professor at Swansea University since 2015

Chair – Niall Griffiths

Niall Griffiths was born in Liverpool in 1966, studied English, and now lives and works in Aberystwyth. His novels include: Grits (2000), a tale of addicts and drifters in rural Wales; Sheepshagger (2001) telling the story of Ianto, a feral mountain boy; Kelly & Victor(2002); Stump (2003), which won two Book of the Year awards; Wreckage (2005); Runt (2007);Ten Pound Pom (2009); and A Great Big Shining Star (2013). Grits, Kelly & Victor and Stump were made into films for television; Broken Ghosts (2019). Niall Griffiths has also written travel pieces, restaurant and book reviews, and radio plays.In 2010, his book, In The Dreams of Max and Ronnie was published, one of Seren's 'New Stories from the Mabinogion' series. Griffiths first collection of poetry Red Roar: 20 Years of Words was published by Wrecking Ball Press in 2015. He won the Wales Book of the Year Award in 2020.

Manon Steffan Ros

Manon Steffan Ros was born in Rhiwlas, Snowdonia. After leaving school, she worked as an actress for a few years before becoming a writer. Her first novel for adults Fel Aderyn, reached the shortlist for Wales Book of the Year and her novel Blasu won the Fiction Prize of the 2013 Wales Book of the Year. Ros translated Blasu into English with the title The Seasoning which was published by Honno in 2015. As well as her books for adults, Ros has found great acclaim in her children’s writing. She has won the prestigious Tir Na N-Og prize for Welsh children’s literature five times, with her novels Trwy’r Tonnau (2010), Prism (2012), Pluen (2017) Fi a Joe Iestyn (2019), and most recently Pobol Drws Nesaf (2020).

Zoë Brigley

Zoë Brigley grew up in Caerphilly in the Rhymney Valley, with  strong  family  roots  in  the  Llynfi  Valley,  especially Maesteg. She is currently working as  an Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University in the USA. She is the  author of three books of poetry: Hand & Skull (2019), Conquest (2012), and The Secret (2007). All three collections received UK Poetry Book Society Recommendations. She also published a chapbook Aubade After a French Movie (2020), and she  has a collection of nonfiction essays: Notes from a Swing State: Writing from Wales and America (2019). She won an Eric Gregory Award in 2003 for the best British poets under 30 and was longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize for the best international writers under 40. She received a Welsh Academy Bursary in 2005. Her  writing appears in publications like Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Review, Chicago Review, Australian Book Review, PN Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Copper Nickel,and Poetry Wales.

Charlotte Williams OBE

Charlotte Williams OBE is an academic, writer and activist. She is Honorary Professor in the School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences, Bangor University. Charlotte’s contributions to post-colonial writing include her memoir, Sugar and Slate (2002), exploring her Welsh-Guyanese heritage and diasporic identity which was awarded Welsh Book of the Year in 2003; co-editor of Denis Williams: A Life in Works, New and Collected Essays (Rodopi 2010), several short stories and regular contributions to Internationalist Journals including Planet, Wales Review Online, Wasafiri. In 2005 she was Chair of the judging panel for Welsh Book of the Year and in 2021 she once again is on the judging panel for Welsh Book of the Year (creative non-fiction category). Charlotte was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List (2007) for services to ethnic minorities and equalities in Wales. 

Richard Gwyn

Richard Gwyn is a Welsh writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. After studying anthropology at the London School of Economics, he started travelling widely across Europe, living in Greece and Spain, working on fishing boats and as a farm labourer. These experiences “on the road” would influence his literary style and the themes of his work. Gwyn not only narrates his adventures as a traveller, but also his battle for life after being diagnosed with hepatic disease, an experience that re-ignited his own interest in the ways that language and culture influence our understanding of illness. His work is characterised by leaving aside grand narratives in  preference for a more fleeting and fragmentary representation of the world, which has consolidated him as one of the most fascinating voices in the UK’s contemporary literature.

Hanan Issa

Hanan is a Welsh-Iraqi writer who explores narrative history and the ways we connect. She has collaborated with platforms including BBC Wales, Film4, Bush Theatre, and Hay Festival. She is co-founder of the 'Where I'm Coming From' collective. Her pamphlet My Body Can House Two Hearts is published by Burning Eye Books.

Ifan Morgen Jones

Ifan is the BA Journalism Course Leader at Bangor University. His research interests include nationalism, minority language media, digital media, and devolution. He completed a Ph.D. in nationalism and the Welsh press in the 19th century. He is a published author of four novels, Igam Ogam (2008), Yr Argraff Gyntaf (2010), Dadeni (2017), and Babel (2019). Babel won the Welsh language Wales Book of the Year award in 2020 and Igam Ogam won the Daniel Owen Memorial Prize for best novel at the 2008 National Eisteddfod in Cardiff.

Eluned Gramich

Eluned Gramich is a Welsh-German writer and translator. She has lived in Wales, Germany, and Japan, and her memoir Woman Who Brings the Rain was shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year 2016. In her recently-submitted PhD novel, she explores the legacy of the German Expulsions on modern-day Germany.

João Morais

João Morais writes fiction and poetry and is from Cardiff. His short story collection, Things That Make the Heart Beat Faster (2018), is out now with Parthian Books.

Richard Owain Roberts

The winner of The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2020 for his debut novel Hello Friend We Missed You, Richard Owain Roberts is also the author of the acclaimed short fiction collection All The Places We Lived and the subject of the forthcoming ULTRA: Perfection Is The Enemy of Delivered, a documentary film covering the collection’s Serbian translation tour. He lives in Cardiff.

Alex Wharton

Alex Wharton is an award-winning writer, author and performer of poetry. In 2020, he won Rising Stars Wales Award, launched by Literature Wales and Firefly Press. Alex has tutored for Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre and wrote a commissioned Poem for the Future Leaders of Wales graduation ceremony.

Accessibility

The British Council is committed to creating inclusive and welcoming events. This event is being hosted on Zoom which facilitates a range of accessibility features. This event will be dual language so we will have simultaneous translations (Welsh to English) and live captioning for the event via StreamText.

Any questions? 

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email us at literature@britishcouncil.de.

You can now watch the whole seminar online

Please find the schedule below. 

See also

External links