Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s most recent collection We Have to Leave the Earthdeftly interweaves the personal and the political. Climate change is confronted in a sequence about the Arctic; poems that are vividly descriptive of an extreme landscape, sensitive to the effects of global warming. A second sequence, The House of Rest, is a history in 9 poems of Josephine Butler, (1828-1906) a pioneering feminist activist. There are also tender poems about family.
Nia Vine is about to fulfil her dream of exploring an unmapped cave system. With her will go two friends brought up in the same seaside town. As they explore, Nia finds herself obsessed by a series of dreams that lead to a shocking revelation.
Newly longlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize, Nia is the latest novel from award-winning author Robert Minhinnick. Join us to hear him in conversation with Jon Gower discussing the book’s themes, its links to his previous two novels Sea Holly and Limestone Man, and to hear him read extracts from the book.
“a dizzying, yet, brilliant carrousel of delirium.” – Wales Arts Review
Robert Minhinnick is the prize-winning author of four volumes of essays, more than a dozen collections of poetry, and several works of fiction. He has edited a book on the environment in Wales, written for television, and was formerly the editor of Poetry Wales. He is the co-founder of the environmental organisation Sustainable Wales. His debut novel Sea Holly was shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize in 2008. Robert’s second novel Limestone Man is a gripping story of a man trying to connect past and present, haunted by dreams of Australia and his youth. Nia was published by Seren in 2019.
Jon Gower has over thirty books to his name, in Welsh and English, including The Story of Wales which accompanied the landmark BBC series, An Island Called Smith which gained the John Morgan Travel Writing Award and Y Storïwr which won the Wales Book of the Year award. He is a former BBC Wales arts and media correspondent and was for many years the presenter of Radio Wales’ arts programme First Hand. He lives in Cardiff with his wife Sarah and daughters Elena and Onwy.
Pigeon Songs by Derry-born poet Eoghan Walls is richly detailed, densely metaphorical, and steeped in themes of love and loss. The totemic pigeon suggests both a down-to-earth physicality and an ability to astonish, to take flight. Formally adept, vividly evocative, Pigeon Songs is a collection that rewards re-reading. Introduced by our poetry editor Amy Wack, Eoghan joins us from his home to read from the collection.
Eoghan Walls was born in Derry in Northern Ireland. He studied in Wales, Dublin and Belfast, where he completed a PhD in the Seamus Heaney Centre. He was the winner of an Eric Gregory Award and an Irish Arts Council Bursary, and his work has been published widely in journals and anthologies throughout the UK and Ireland. His first collection of poems, The Salt Harvest, was published by Seren in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Strong Award for Best First Collection. Eoghan teaches creative writing at Lancaster University, and lives with his wife and daughters in a village near the sea.
Calling all poets! If you’ve got a burning question you would like to put to an award-winning author, this is the event for you. In this special Q&A, Kim Moore, author of The Art of Falling, will be answering your questions and offering advice on all aspects of poetry. Attendees will be able to submit questions for Kim in advance of the event which will be chaired by Seren poetry editor Amy Wack.
Kim Moore’s first collection The Art of Falling (Seren, 2015) won the 2016 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. She won a Northern Writers Award in 2014, an Eric Gregory Award in 2011 and the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2010. If We Could Speak Like Wolves was a winner in the 2012 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition. She is a PhD candidate at Manchester Metropolitan University and is working on her second collection.
Join author and photographer Phil Cope on a richly-illustrated journey through the wellsprings of Wales, Scotland, Cornwall and Ireland. Found on mountaintops, in deserted valleys, on the coast, in sea caves and even in city centres, wells have long-standing links with religion, healing and folklore, and have always been places of inspiration for our poets. Phil will share some of his favourites of these responses with us. Followed by a short Q&A.
Way More Than Luck is the vivid debut collection of well-known poet and critic Ben Wilkinson. At its heart is a series of poems inspired by a lifelong devotion to Liverpool Football Club. We meet former players, coaches and re-live moments of both stoic despair and wild joy, where vivid themes are adroitly enacted in poetic forms. Ben joins us from his home to read from the collection and discuss the poems he has been sharing on social media to get us through lockdown.
Ben Wilkinson was born in Staffordshire and now lives in Sheffield. In 2014 he won the Poetry Business Competition and a Northern Writers’ Award, and in 2015 he was awarded a writers’ grant from Arts Council England. He is a keen distance runner, lifelong Liverpool FC fan, and he writes criticism for The Guardian, Times Literary Supplement and Poetry Review. He lectures at the University of Bolton.
When Nula’s husband James was struck by Pick’s Disease, an early onset form of dementia, her life began a terrible downward spiral. Feeling alone and consumed by grief and the demands of caring for James with little support, she turned to the care system for help. There she met Bonnie, a resident in the same home as James, and in turn Bonnie’s husband, the broadcaster John Suchet. The similarity of their plight became a bond between them and after the deaths of James and Bonnie, and some guilt-induced false starts, they eventually married. In this event, Nula and John join us from their home for an intimate discussion on the heart-breaking reality of caring for a loved one with dementia and of unexpectedly finding a happy ending.
“A cry from the heart that is a triumph of love over despair.” – Alan Titchmarsh
Nula Suchet was born in Ireland, part of a large family. After a difficult early life she became an interior designer who worked internationally in the UK, Europe and the US. She now lives in London with her husband John Suchet. The Longest Farewellis her harrowing account of dealing with her husband’s dementia and the heart-break that accompanied it.
Peter Finch is a poet, author and critic who lives in Cardiff. His latest book Walking Cardiff (Seren, 2019) is a collection of twenty walks around the Welsh capital, written in conjunction with photographer John Briggs. His first collection of poetry in a decade The Machineries of Joy was published by Seren in February 2020.
Peter is a former publisher, bookseller and Chief Executive of the Welsh Academy (now Literature Wales), and recipient of the Ted Slade Award for Service to Poetry 2011. He compiles the poetry section for Macmillan’s annual Writer’s Handbook and the self-publishing section for A&C Black’s Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook. His extensive website can be viewed at www.peterfinch.co.uk.
The archetypal Welsh church is not in town or village, enhanced by generations of patronage: it is the isolated, simple, evocative walls-with-roof, in a landscape often spiritually charged. The Welsh churches tell us about medieval times, and the Age of Saints that came before and, amazingly of the pagan Celtic times before that, which they were meant to erase.
Illustrated in colour Wales’s Best One Hundred Churches encompasses a millennium of churches around Wales, from tiny St Govan’s tucked in its cliff-face, through ruined Llanthony to the magnificence of the cathedrals at Llandaff and St David’s. It is an invaluable repository of history, art and architecture, spirituality and people’s lives which will appeal to the historian and the tourist, communicants and those without a god. T J Hughes brings the book alive in this fascinating illustrated talk.
“A really wonderful book.” – Simon Jenkins
T J Hughes was born in Denbighshire in 1959. His lifelong fascination with Welsh culture, and with its old churches and chapels, led him to write Wales’s Best One Hundred Churcheswhich aims to show some of the great treasures of Welsh churches, as well as explaining their very distinctive history and origins in Wales’s unique and ancient story. He also wrote the short biography of R.S. Thomas in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The Deputy Executive Director of the International Bar Association, which works around the world to foster the rule of law and to fight against infringements of human rights such as state use of torture, he lives in London with his wife and son.
Calling all writers! Join award-winning writer and playwright Jaki McCarrick for a special Q&A session. Perhaps you would like to know where she finds inspiration for her short stories, or you would like to write for the stage but don’t know where to begin? This is your chance to ask. Attendees will be able to submit questions for Jaki in advance of the event which will be chaired by Mick Felton.
Jaki McCarrick is an award-winning writer of plays, poetry and fiction. Her play Leopardville won the 2010 Papatango Prize for New Writing, and The Naturalists premiered last year at the Soho Repertory Theatre, New York to rave reviews. Belfast Girls was developed at the National Theatre Studio in London, and was shortlisted for the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the 2014 BBC Tony Doyle Award. In 2016 Jaki was selected for Screen Ireland’s Talent Development Initiative and has recently completed the screen adaptation of Belfast Girls. Jaki’s plays The Mushroom Pickers, Leopardville and Belfast Girls were published by Samuel French in 2015. She has also had plays published by Routledge and Aurora Metro.
Her short story collection, The Scattering, was published by Seren and was shortlisted for the 2014 Edge Hill Prize. The collection includes her story ‘The Visit’ which won the Wasafiri Prize for Short Fiction.
Longlisted in 2014 for the inaugural Irish Fiction Laureate, she is currently editing her first novel, set in the border area of the Cooley Peninsula, close to where she lives. Jaki also regularly writes critical pieces for the Times Literary Supplement, Irish Examiner, Poetry Ireland Review and other publications.
Alexandra Ford’s debut novel What Remains at the Endis wonderfully intelligent and hauntingly beautiful. It focuses on the largely undocumented ethnic cleansing of the former Yugoslavia’s ethnic German population, the Danube Swabians, by Tito and his partisan regime. Alternating between the late 1940s and contemporary Serbia, the story is told from the perspective of Marie Kholer who embarks on a journey to find out the truth about her grandparents’ flight to America. Ford speaks movingly of the personal stories that brought her to the book, and will answer questions from the audience about her research and how one can use the impulse to memoir as a way to weave a fictional tale of persuasive power.
“a deeply personal, startlingly honest, and devastating portrayal of the lasting effects of communal and generational trauma.” – Wales Arts Review
Alexandra Ford was born near Philadelphia. She earned her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and her BA from Virginia Tech. Her writing appears in The Rumpus and No Tokens Journal, among others. She lives on a smallholding on the border between England and Wales.
Tamar Yoseloff and Martyn Crucefix join us from London for an exciting evening of poetry. Tamar Yoseloff’s new collection The Black Placeis a dark and gorgeously multi-faceted collection that eschews the sentimental, embraces alternatives and offers antidotes to cheery capitalist hype. Martyn Crucefix’s The Lovely Disciplines is full of elegantly-crafted, intriguing poems. The ‘disciplines’ of the title encompass many of the manifestations of human love: of a child, a partner, of ageing parents, of the world.
Tamar Yoseloff’s fifth collection, A Formula for Night: New and Selected Poems, was published by Seren in 2015. She’s also the author of Formerly, a chapbook incorporating photographs by Vici MacDonald (Hercules Editions, 2012) shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award; two collaborative editions with artist Linda Karshan; and a book with artist Charlotte Harker. She’s a freelance tutor in creative writing, and runs poetry courses for galleries including the Hayward, the RA and the National Gallery. She lectures on the Poetry School / Newcastle University MA in Writing Poetry. Her sixth collection, The Black Place, was published in 2019.
Martyn Crucefix has won numerous prizes including a major Eric Gregory award and a Hawthornden Fellowship. He has published 7 collections of poetry including Hurt (Enitharmon, 2010): “an exceptional ear…superbly intelligent…urgent, heartfelt, controlled and masterful.” (Kathryn Maris, Poetry London). His translation of Rilke’s Duino Elegies (Enitharmon, 2006) was shortlisted for the Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation and hailed as “unlikely to be bettered for very many years” (Magma). His translation of Rilke’s The Sonnets to Orpheus appeared from Enitharmon in 2012. His translations of Rainer Maria Rilke and the Daodejing, appeared in 2016. His collection The Lovely Disciplineswas published by Seren in 2017.
Date: Friday 22nd May
Location: Online via Zoom
David Llewellyn: A Simple Scale, interviewed by Nemonie Craven Roderick
In A Simple Scale, a piece of music starts a story that will range across Soviet Russia, McCarthyite Hollywood and post-9/11 New York, as the secrets of the lives of two gay composers are uncovered. David Llewellyn explores the points at which the personal and the political meet as narratives of love, death, deceit, the CIA, atomic bombs and classical music unfold. Hear David Llewellyn in conversation with Nemonie Craven Roderick discussing his Polari Prize shortlisted novel A Simple Scale.
‘Beautifully told and beautifully written’ – Philip Reeve
David Llewellyn was raised in Pontypool and is a graduate of Darlington College of Arts. As well as his four novels for Seren he has written scripts for the BBC and several short stories. David lives and works in Cardiff.
Nemonie Craven Roderick is an agent at Jonathan Clowes Literary Agents. Her clients include Gruff Rhys, Toby Vieira, Simon Critchley and The New York Times (for the popular column The Stone).