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.
Your chance to quiz an expert panel of writers and publishers comprising Jannat Ahmed, editor-in-chief at the magazine and book publisher Lucent Dreaming, Richard Lewis Davies, founding partner of Parthian Books, Rachel Lloyd, creative editor and head of publishing at bilingual publisher Atebol, Alexa Price, marketing executive at Graffeg, and Gwenllian Elis, author of Welsh language novel Sgen i’m Syniad. They discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the publishing sector in Wales, Welsh identity and the growth of the Welsh language, multiculturism and diversity, and look at how we can put Welsh publishing on the global map. Introduced by Cyhoeddi Cymru Publishing Wales and chaired by broadcast journalist and academic Hanna Hopwood.
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.
Grossly polluted and suffering from algal blooms – the overgrowth of microscopic algae or algae-like bacteria – the River Wye is in desperate need of care. Hear from the Friends of the Upper Wye to understand more about the causes of pollution and what can be done to restore this river to health. This pop-up event will feature contributions from local citizen scientists, farmers, poets, journalists, experts, wild swimmer Angela Jones and surprise guests.
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. Gwen Davies is a literary translator and editor of the New Welsh Review.
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.
Cultural critic Charlotte Williams talks to Hanan Issa (Mud is Memory), Angela Hui (Takeaway) and Darren Chetty (Welsh (Plural)) about writing Wales, Welsh identity, and creative and cultural representation.. Williams is a Welsh-Guyanese author and academic. As Hay Thinker in Residence she is committed to exploring the ways in which Wales and its multivarious Welsh identities are represented at the Festival.
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. In conversation with the editor of the Wales Arts Review, Dr Emma Schofield.
Earlier this year National Theatre Wales (NTW) staged a three-part production, The Cost of Living, at Swansea Grand Theatre, which combined a live discussion between local leaders and the audience, an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial to address the nature of State-led persecution, and protest music to empower and inspire. Co-director Anthony Matsena, NTW producer Glesni Price-Jones, journalist and community organiser Shirish Kukarni and cast member Sara Beer reflect on the impact of the performance and the role of theatre in a financial crisis. Chaired by journalist/author Daniel Trilling who contributed to Broke: Fixing Britain's Poverty Crisis.
Contributors: Sophie Howe, first Future Generations Commissioner for Wales; Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change.
Chaired by Tom Bullough, author of Sarn Helen.
With the climate and ecological emergency, humanity faces perhaps its greatest ever threat. In many ways, Wales has been a leader in this field but the challenges remain immense. For ‘Green Wales’, two of the most eminent figures in Welsh politics discuss our present situation and explain what we must do to secure our future.