Absolutely delighted to have a new poem and an accompanying interview published by Poetry Wales today. 'Mother and Child' is inspired by two of Josef Herman's paintings at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea – a place my mother took me to regularly when I was growing up.
Earlier this week I visited the gallery and one of the paintings mentioned in the poem – 'Miners' (1951) – is actually on temporary display at the moment as part of Glynn Viv's 'Art and Industry: Stories from Wales' exhibition. As I say in the poem, it still steals a breath.
'Miners' (1951) by Josef Herman, on display at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
Diolch yn fawr to Zoë Brigley and Poetry Wales for publishing the poem and asking me a few questions about my writing process for their #HowIWriteAPoem series. You can read the poem and the interview on their website:
The A470 is a 186-mile road that stretches across Wales from shore to shore, and I’ve got a poem in this new bilingual anthology celebrating it from Arachne Press. Diolch to editors Ness Owen and Siân Northey for choosing it, and also to Siân for translating it into Welsh!
The poem, ‘A Mountain We Climb’, is inspired by the regular journeys my mother and I made to visit my auntie in Llandudno when I was very young, often accompanied by my grandparents. You can read a little more about the inspiration behind it here: www.arachnepress.com/books/poetry/a470/melin-y-coed
A470: Poems for the Road / Cerddi'r Ffordd is the Books Council of Wales ‘Book of the Month’ for February so look out for it on displays in bookshops across Wales, or alternatively order a copy directly from Arachne’s website: www.arachnepress.com/books/poetry/a470
¿Hablas español? I don’t unfortunately, but if you do then you can read interviews with me and other contemporary Swansea writers in this brand new book on Dylan Thomas by Juan Pablo Bertazza: Himnos al sol en la oscuridad ('Hymns to the sun in the darkness’.) Diolch to Juan for inviting me to be a part of it!
Alternatively, if your Spanish is as bad as mine, the mind-blowing Google Translate app can do this for you. It’s not a perfect translation but honestly…we are living in the future.
Really pleased to have a haiku in the latest issue of Frogpond Journal, which has just arrived at my door all the way from Seattle, USA. A lovely surprise too, in a magazine of 158 pages, to find myself sharing one with Paul Chambers, the only other Welsh writer in the issue.
There's a free sampler of some of the poems, essays and reviews from the issue on the Haiku Society of America's website, where you can also order a copy of the full issue.
Free sampler: www.hsa-haiku.org/frogpond/2021-issue44-2/index.html
Order a copy of the latest issue: www.hsa-haiku.org/frogpond/previousissues.html
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.