The new issue of New Gothic Review is now online and features my short story 'Passengers': a gothic tale set on the banks of the River Severn. This is the first short story I've finished in about seven years, so I'm thrilled that it found a home with New Gothic Review. Thanks so much to the editors for working on it with me, and also to Zuzanna Kwiecień for the incredible accompanying illustration.
To celebrate its publication, yesterday I took a trip the place on the River Severn where the story is set. For centuries, Black Rock was an important ferry crossing point on the tidal river that divides Wales and England.
I began writing this story after a train journey on the line near the River Severn a few years ago. When I decided to finally complete it earlier this year we were in the midst of a national lockdown, so Black Rock as a setting came from researching the area online.
The towering Second Severn Crossing road bridge (1996) makes an appearance in the story, though elsewhere I’ve slightly altered the Severn estuary’s geography – making some places closer to each other, and creating a disused station called ‘Porthsgiwed Halt’ (named after the nearby village of Portskewett).
Portskewett did once have a station that served the Black Rock ferry: Portskewett Pier. It's definitely the most unusual train station I’ve ever heard of. Trains would stop on a wooden pier and passengers would descend to a ferry. After making the crossing by boat they’d then be met by a new train on the English side. Opened in 1863, Portskewett Pier was demolished once the Severn Railway Tunnel (1886) had been carved beneath the estuary. It’s such an interesting station, but I decided it was too complicated to include it in the story and so created a disused Halt on the main line instead.
Wales has begun to open back up now after our winter lockdown, and yesterday’s trip to Black Rock marks the furthest I’ve been from my home in Swansea since March 2020. It was so odd to arrive at a place that I’d extensively explored, but only via photos and Google Street View. Yesterday was stormy, and Black Rock was exactly as I’d imagined it: bleak, moody, ethereal. However, in the picnic area and along the path there are statues, sculptures and information boards, and on a brighter day I imagine it’s a very welcoming place. This seems to be down to the hard work of a project called Living Levels.
I know I'll return to Black Rock many times, in person and on the page. To that rusted lighthouse floating above the water, the rock it sits on only exposed as the tide moves out. There’s so much hidden beneath the surface there.
You can read 'Passengers' and the other five stories in the issue for free on the New Gothic Review website: newgothicreview.com
New Gothic Review are open for submissions twice a year, with the next submissions window opening in a few months' time. If you'd like to submit a story then take a look at their submission guidelines and keep an eye on their social media channels for announcements.
Bit late posting about this, but three of my poems were translated into Greek over the summer for this anthology of Welsh poets from YoungPoets.eu and Wales Literature Exchange, published by Vakxikon. Chuffed to be included alongside these names, and also to learn that my name in Greek is Ρις Οουάιν Γουίλιαμς.
All the poems in the anthology are printed in their original language (Welsh or English) alongside Greek translations. You can purchase a copy of the book, and also learn more about the project and the poets involved, on the Young Poets website: youngpoets.eu/en/anthology-of-young-welsh-poets
If you’re looking for something to read during lockdown, Atlanta Review have made their latest issue – dedicated to poets from Cornwall and Wales – free to download from their website.
Great to see my poem ‘Gull’ published alongside poems from many friends and familiar names. You can find the issue here: atlantareview.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Atlanta-Review-Spring-2020-04.30.20.pdf
I was recently asked to contribute to Wales Arts Review's new series of literary vignettes, and you can now read my rambling, diary entry of a vignette on their website: www.walesartsreview.org/vignette-calling-for-the-good-old-days
In the teenage years before I started reading poetry, I probably would have called Pete Doherty a poet – in that way that Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan are called poets, the way that angered Gregory Corso. Calling a lyricist a ‘poet’ is a way that people attempt to legitimise their craft – as if writing songs is a lesser art.
These vignettes "provide glimpses into the thinking of Welsh writers and their experiences; from the day-to-day to the extraordinary." I've been enjoying reading this series so far – thanks to Wales Arts Review for asking me to contribute.
Thank you to everyone who came to the hometown launch of That Lone Ship at TechHub Swansea last Friday night. It was so nice to see so many people I know in the same room. Thanks also to Joe Bayliss for playing for us – ‘For You’ was on repeat in my (slightly hungover) head all Saturday morning.
Ann Bjerregaard has just posted a lovely write-up of the launch on the Parthian Books Intern Blog: "Poems acquire a certain intensity when read out loud in the place they are set, and through the poet’s powerful voice, Swansea became a charmed place." You can read the full write-up here:
At the beginning of this year I was appointed assistant editor of The Ghastling: a literary magazine dedicated to 'the macabre, ghosts and the oh-so strange'. I've been a big fan of the magazine since The Ghastling crypt first cracked open in 2014, so it was really exciting to be asked to join the team by editor Rebecca Parfitt.
My first Ghastling submission window – for a themed edition in celebration of the bicentenary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – was a baptism of fire, with sixty stories to choose from. I often ended up sat alone in my living room, reading long into the night. The shortlist of stories that I presented to Rebecca at the end of the process were the ones that had got under my skin – the ones that made me question if that really was the radiator rattling in the hallway. Eventually our combined shortlists were whittled down to ten stories, which were then sent off to Art Director Nathaniel Winter-Hébert so he could work his magic. The issue is now available to buy, and it’s so good to see this monster in print!
We had a table at the inaugural Swansea Zine Fest last Saturday. There was a really interesting and diverse selection of publications on show at Volcano Theatre, and it was great to be involved. If you didn't manage to pick up a copy at the festival, you can head over to theghastling.com to order this issue or (even better) purchase a subscription.
My debut poetry collection That Lone Ship is now available to pre-order on the Parthian Books website. Pick up a signed copy for £8 with free P&P (if you’d prefer a rare unsigned copy then let me know).
You can read some of the poems that will be included on my Poetry page.
I'm really happy to have a haiku published in the first ever issue of Wales Haiku Journal. Edited by Paul Chambers, the journal is free to read online and they've just launched their inaugural edition.
Paul has outlined his exciting vision for this much-needed addition to the Welsh literary landscape in this article, published today by Wales Arts Review. That's well worth a read too.
My poem 'The Walk to Work' has been included in the latest Cheval anthology, published by Parthian. Cheval is the anthology of the Terry Hetherington Award, which has become known as one of the most significant awards for young writers in Wales. Now in its 10th year, the award was set up in memory of the Welsh poet Terry Hetherington, who died in 2007.
It was lovely to read at the launch of the anthology in Swansea last Friday, where I met many of the wonderful people associated with the award. I was also pleased to be reading alongside my fellow Hay Festival Writers at Work Rhian Elizabeth and Philip Jones. Perhaps the highlight of the night, though, was being drawn by the supremely talented Siôn Tomos Owen. Thanks Siôn!
You can order a copy of Cheval #10 from Parthian's website: parthianbooks.com
Edit: A review of the Cheval launch has since been published by Wales Arts Review. Read that here: walesartsreview.org/cheval-10-spoken-word-night