Captivated by castles? Delighted by drawbridges? Then don’t miss Hay resident Mary Morgan and local historian Elizabeth Bingham’s talk on the violent histories of castles in and around Hay-on-Wye. The pair, who return to the Festival following last year’s popular talk on local churches, talk about Hay Castle and everything from partially ruined mottes and baileys to stone fortresses under constant threat from the Welsh, describing how some castles have adapted to a new phase in the 21st century.
Join actor Callum Scott Howells (It’s a Sin, Cabaret) and writer and director Luke Collins (Cappuccino, Swiped) as they present a screening of On the Black Hill, adapted from Bruce Chatwin’s 1982 novel, which tells the story of identical twin brothers who grow up on a farm in rural Wales and never leave home. Howells, nominated for a Bafta for his performance in It’s a Sin, and Collins, an award winner for his cinematography across two BBC short films, discuss Chatwin’s moving ability to explore the larger questions of the human experience and why the novel remains a classic piece of writing for the rural borderlands of Wales and England. Chaired by poet Owen Sheers. The discussion will last for around 45 minutes, followed by the one-hour film screening.
Put your questions about all things writing and publishing to an expert panel of publishers, authors and journalists, introduced by Cyhoeddi Cymru Publishing Wales and chaired by a media personality to be announced. The panel explores the challenges and opportunities facing Wales’ publishing sector, discusses Welsh identity and the growth of the Welsh language, multiculturism and diversity, and looks at how we can put Welsh publishing on the global map.
Explore the political, cultural and mythical history of Wales, and get a glimpse of what lies ahead for us all when it comes to climate change, with writers Tom Bullough and Julie Brominicks. In Sarn Helen, Bullough takes us on a walk along Sarn Helen – Helen’s Causeway – the old Roman Road that runs from the south of Wales to the north, weaving in conversations with climate scientists and showing the likely impact of climate change on Wales, while Brominicks celebrates the language, landscape, peoples and biodiversity of Cymru past and present in The Edge of Cymru, exploring themes of belonging and cymreictod (Welshness), trying to find clarity, courage and possibility in the environmental crisis.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Professor Laura McAllister, professor of public policy and the governance of Wales at Cardiff University, co-chair the commission looking at options to reform the structures of the UK and strengthen Welsh democracy to deliver improvements for its people. With commission member Gonzalez, they discuss the existential challenges facing the UK, the work of the commission and options to secure Wales’ future with Auriol Miller, director of the Institute of Welsh Affairs.
Music has long been part of Wales’ national brand, and The Art of Music describes the visualisation of Welsh music and musicians. Peter Lord and Rhian Davies present a discussion of the trope of Welsh musicality between the mid-16th century and the present. Incorporating images and music, they analyse not only the evolution of the national brand but its political and social implications, especially in relation to the notion of British identity. Lord is best known for his books and television programmes about the history of Welsh art. Davies is a leading advocate of Wales’ musical heritage and promotes Welsh culture internationally.
Nature writers Jasmine Donahaye and Jay Griffiths and literary historian Rachel Hewitt explore ideas of diversity, equality, fair access and other moral matters of our relationship with the great outdoors and the natural world. In discussion with Gwen Davies, they look at the history and politics of field guides, grief and anger amid ‘turning times’ and the meanings we borrow from birds. Donahaye, a professor of creative writing at Swansea University, has written Birdsplaining: A Natural History and a memoir, Losing Israel. Griffiths is author of Wild and Why Rebel. Hewitt is author of A Revolution of Feeling and Map of a Nation. Davies is an artist inspired by Celtic folklore and the natural environment.
Come and hear the writers share and discuss some of their recent work. The Hay Writers’ Circle is a dynamic group, active in Hay for more than 40 years. It offers three competitions annually for poetry, fiction and non-fiction, each of which is open to both members and non-members. There is an active work in progress group for those working on longer projects. The Circle has an ongoing, productive relationship with a local primary school.
A candid look into the literary life of Wales through the eyes of two men deeply connected to the words of the country. Dai Smith’s memoir Off the Track: Traces of Memory looks back at his time as a writer and historian, broadcaster, chair of the Arts Council of Wales, editor of the Library of Wales, chair of the Dylan Thomas Prize and editor of BBC Wales. Sam Adams’ Letters from Wales: Memories and Encounters in Literature and Life is a collection of his columns over 30 years in the poetry magazine PN Review, offering insights into the literary lives and culture of Wales.
The Cost of Living was a ground-breaking three-part production at National Theatre Wales, which included a bold adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial, written by Emily White. Combining conversation, theatre and music, it was unashamedly about the moment we’re living in. White reunites with co-director Kel Matsena, National Theatre Wales’ producer Glesni Price-Jones and cast member Sara Beer for a discussion about the show, reflecting on our rights and the many current attacks on them.