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Up Top was the name given locally to the Mid Wales Mental Hospital above Talgarth; a double meaning like 'round the bend', which often located asylums elsewhere – out of sight and out of mind. Purcell’s hitherto untold history, based on archives and oral testimony from staff and patients, shows how mentally ill people were treated through the 20th century. At first the ‘lunatic asylums’ relied on a strict regime of fresh air and bromide. Then they became ‘mental hospitals’, trying desperate measures like leucotomy, deep sleep narcosis and electro convulsive therapy. Then the word ‘mental’ was dropped and ‘psychiatric hospitals’ moved into the era of heavy drugs and psychotherapy. Finally, community care took over. The history of the Mid Wales’ was typical of many institutions that lie as ruined monuments to our attempts to help the mentally ill.
Join us to celebrate this prestigious literary prize for writers aged 39 and under, as the 2018 winner talks to Dai Smith, chair of the jury. The shortlist for the prize comprised Kayo Chingonyi, Carmen Maria Machado, Gwendoline Riley, Sally Rooney, Emily Ruskovich and Gabriel Tallent.
The Zambian-born poet Kayo Chingonyi is announced as the winner of the 2018 Prize.
Unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales voted to leave the EU. Is this an indication that the radical distinctiveness of Wales has eroded with the Welsh language or are there distinctive factors underlying the leave vote in Wales? Given the EU’s response to the referendum in Catalonia, was the Welsh Nationalist vision of ‘Wales in Europe’ built on wishful thinking? Is Wales on the verge of a final assimilation into an increasingly nationalist and isolationist England? Or is this far too dramatic a prognosis? What might be the ways ahead for Wales, Britain and Europe? Chaired by Welsh internationalist, actor and activist Michael Sheen.
Director Eamon Bourke’s film Diary of The Last Man delves deep into the themes of Minhinnick’s poetry in search of the man himself. Combining poetry, performance, interview and layered imagery, the film explores the many identities of the poet, real and imagined. A beautiful, strange and meditative film, it brings the landscapes of Minhinnick’s home into sharp focus, revealing some of the hidden places at the core of his writing and offers a glimpse of the inner workings of the poet. The film Diary of the Last Man is screened, following an introduction by Eamon Bourke. As the film finishes, Robert Minhinnick takes to the stage to perform poetry from his 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize shortlisted collection of the same title, Diary of the Last Man.
A performance of the new one-man play by the Cameroon-born playwright and actor, now a Creative Wales Fellow, is followed by a conversation with Owen Sheers about the work and Charles’ extraordinary life. The Last Ritual is based on the author’s last days in the village of Small Soppo in Buea, Cameroon. It looks at love and ultimate betrayal, exploring the theme of witchcraft and the practice of it.
The astronomer subverts conventional astronomical thought by eschewing the classical naming of constellations and investigating Welsh and Celtic naming. Ancient peoples around the world placed their own myths and legends in the heavens, though these have tended to become lost behind the dominant use of classical cultural stories to name stars. In many cases it is a result of a literary culture displacing an oral culture. Griffiths has researched past use of Welsh heroes from the Mabinogion in the naming of constellations and his new book is both an interesting, provocative combination of a new perspective on Welsh mythology and an astronomy guidebook.
A conversation about place and story, language and resilience. Keevil has two new books out. The first is a novel called No Good Brother – a high stakes Canadian adventure of love and morality, introducing two unlikely outlaws. Hometown Tales: Wales pairs two stories: Last Seen Leaving, a gripping account of the days following the disappearance of a local man by Keevil and The Lion and the Star by Eluned Gramich, a vivid retelling of the Welsh language protests that electrified Cardiganshire in the 1970s.
IWA Director Auriol Miller, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, equality activist Shazia Awan and politics professor Laura McAllister discuss with Clare Critchley the challenges, frustrations and joys of being a woman in Welsh public life. This event launches issue 60 of the welsh agenda, magazine of the Institute of Welsh Affairs.
The focus of the PEN chapter this year is to defend and support minority languages within ethnic communities in Wales. When we are given the confidence and liberty to speak for ourselves in our mother tongues as much as in our acquired speech, we demonstrate the diversity, persistence and vitality of language. Three Welsh and three refugee writers are here to speak for themselves and to invite you into the local and global PEN alliance of writers working to promote international freedom of expression and linguistic equality.
From schools to universities to industry, the voices calling for more creativity in UK classrooms are getting louder. Research is conclusive that creative activities have outsize impacts on well-being, self-esteem and other cognitive abilities. In a new book, Natural Born Learners, Alex Beard examines the frontline of 21st century schools from Silicon Valley and learning with robots to his own experience in an inner-city London school. He offers suggestions of a different way forward. Black Mountains College is a project to create a new kind of liberal arts university and teacher training college in Powys to meet the challenges of future generations and a warming planet. It proposes a radically different kind of undergraduate experience – its director, Ben Rawlence, will explain. They are joined by Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education in the Welsh Government. Chaired by Rosie Boycott.
As Wales marks the centenary of the end of the Great War, author of the Oscar-nominated film Hedd Wyn, and a number of volumes on the Welsh literature of the Great War, Professor Alan Llwyd of Academi Hywel Teifi and Dr Aled Eirug, Morgan Academy, author of two forthcoming publications on the opposition to the War in Wales, will discuss the Welsh response to the call to arms and the effect of the War on the calls for peace. The discussion will be chaired by one of Wales’ leading poets, broadcaster and leading member of Cymdeithas y Cymod (Welsh Fellowship of Reconciliation) Professor Mererid Hopwood, who is also a member of the campaign for the establishment of a Wales Peace Academy.
Also drawing upon an epic poem and an intimate portrait of a serving Swansea soldier, Nawr Yr Arwr \ Now The Hero brings the stories of war to life but counterpoints the tragic telling with hope. At its heart is a site specific Requiem, realised from a collaboration between the late Oscar-nominated Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhansson and Owen Morgan Roberts; with a libretto by BAFTA nominated writer Owen Sheers. Artist Owen Griffiths (Arts Council of Wales Creative Ambassador) will also join the conversation to discuss his contribution to the project – the creation of an edible landscape and harvest gathering, as featured in Brangwyn's paintings.
Rees introduces the concepts of Nawr Yr Arwr \ Now The Hero and discusses Sheers’ response to the ancient Celtic poem Y Gododdin; Roberts’ interpretation of this in musical form in a specific setting; and Griffiths unique interpretation of paintings as war memorials in contemporary landscape.
Chaired by Jasper Rees.
Now The Hero is the highlight in Wales for the final year of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.
The launch of a new bilingual collection of poetry, Cuddle Call? by National Poet of Wales Ifor ap Glyn. An ambassador for Welsh-language poetry both at home and internationally, Ifor’s work is often translated. Chaired by Professor Damian Walford Davies.
Cyflwynir cyfrol newydd o gerddi dwyieithog, Cuddle Call? (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch) gan Fardd Cenedlaethol Cymru Ifor ap Glyn. Mae Ifor yn awyddus iawn i fynd â barddoniaeth Gymraeg ar draws y byd, a chaiff ei waith ei gyfieithu’n gyson. Cadeirir gan yr Athro Damian Walford Davies.
Ursula Martin was diagnosed with ovarian cancer aged 31 and walked around Wales to raise money for a cancer charity: she recorded the experience in One Woman Walks Wales. Hannah Engelkamp’s book and film Seaside Donkey were based on her experience travelling with this companion around Wales. Hannah’s meanders are now accompanied by her toddler, Osian, who inspired her current writing on ‘wilding’ childhood and what the ‘dériving’ and colonialist habits of infants can teach us about travel. They talk to Gwen Davies.
The British government’s own analysis of the economic impact of Brexit forecasts a fall in gross domestic product of 9% for Wales. The role of non-resident Welsh people (the Welsh Diaspora) and their soft power, in bringing new wealth and prosperity to Wales, is of huge importance and could be transformational. With global engagement changing the fortunes of nations and exerting huge influence over many aspects of public life and economic development, it’s time Wales got serious about diaspora. Mark Neale, CEO and founder of Mountain Warehouse, Kingsley Atkins, the founder and CEO of Ireland’s Diaspora Matters, and Rachel Minto, an EU expert based at Cardiff University, talk to Guto Harri.
A world leading expert in her field, Professor Davies has visited countries all around the world to see how they are responding to the serious effects of climate change. A recipient of the Philip Leverhulme Prize and most recently a Fulbright Scholarship, Professor Davies presented the popular groundbreaking documentary series Her yr Hinsawdd (Climate Challenge). With the programme’s producer, Elin Rhys, she will discuss the importance and the challenges of engaging the public with scientific research.
Roy Noble is a Welsh legend – a consummate broadcaster, mischievous raconteur and collector of tales. His new book, launched today, is a glorious weft of fact, fiction and fancy – always moving and hilarious, elegantly told and often true. Pull up a chair…
The hugely ambitious Parthian press project to gather in one imprint the greatest Welsh writing in English of the past 100 years has now reached 50 titles – from Raymond Williams and Margiad Evans to Rachel Trezise and Leonora Brito. Phil George leads a conversation about the scope and scale, impact and treasures of Welsh literature. What do we learn from these modern classics? What might the next 50 books be? And how might they be selected?