Our monthly 'Meet the Haymaker' series shares stories of the change-makers at the heart of Hay Festival and the impact it has had on their lives. This month, get to know poet, performer and host of next week's Scribblers Cymraeg Aneirin Karadog.
What does Hay Festival mean to you?
Hay Festival is a unique festival that I am very proud to have been able to contribute towards in the past, and that a continuing relationship with its hard-working staff continues to this present day. It is wonderful that Wales can offer the world such a unique opportunity to listen to authors, poets, illustrators and craftsmen and women who have a love for making books and also that the public can get to meet these talented individuals. Hay Festival’s commitment to school and fostering a love of reading amongst young people is also one of the reasons it is such a fantastic charity.
What’s your favourite Festival memory?
I will always the remember the privilege of doing a schools show at Hay Festival to 600 or more pupils and getting them to chant about ‘Cynghanedd’ back at me on stage from the audience…thinking that ‘Cynghanedd’ is important for all pupils in Wales to learn and know about…before realising that many schools had come to watch from far flung places in England! But hey, why not spread the beauties and secrets of Welsh literature as far and wide as possible. It was a beautiful moment to meet a pupil from Banbury afterwards whose eyes were lit up with enthusiasm having heard about this mystics jedi-esque craft of playing with word through the medium of strict Welsh meter (‘Cynghanedd’).
Have you ever changed your mind on something having been to a Hay Festival event?
I used to believe that the representation of the Welsh language was lacking at Hay, but that is certainly not true of the festival these days. We have a wealth of authors and poets in the Welsh language that Hay Festival gives prominence to, and of course, as bilingual speakers, we get to enjoy the cultural dialogue that comes from bringing in a wealth of world-wide talent in the English speaking world and beyond.
Who was the best speaker or performer you saw on a Hay Festival stage?
I really enjoyed Eoin Colfer at last year’s event, he is a charismatic speaker and a hard-working author. It was great to hear about his brimming creative ideas and how he sees opportunities for authors not only in traditional media but also through graphic novels and such.
What advice do you have for a first-timer at the Festival?
Do make sure you enjoy the fantastic food and ice cream; it will be a perfect companion to the many literary feasts. The ambience is so welcoming, maybe it is a good idea to plan your visit before you go so that you can make the most of your time there. And take a bag ready to bring home a load of new books!
Sum up Hay Festival in five words or less…
What are you reading?
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