Writer, poet and spoken word artist Hanan Issa has been awarded the 2022/23 Cymrawd Rhyngwladol Hay Festival | Hay Festival International Fellowship.
Funded by Arts Council Wales, the Fellowship supports a writer in Wales in attending Festival editions around the world in Mexico, Spain, Peru and Colombia while developing a writing or research project. Open to exceptional writers of all ages, it provides a unique opportunity for career development, while increasing Wales’ artistic profile internationally.
A participant of the Hay Festival Writers at Work development programme, Issa’s debut pamphlet My Body can House two Heartswas published by Burning Eye Books in 2019. Her work has been performed and published in a variety of places including BBC Wales, ITV Wales, Huffington Post, StAnza festival and Poetry Wales. She is the co-founder of the Where I’m Coming From open mic collective and was named National Poet of Wales earlier this year.
Recipients of the Fellowship over the years include acclaimed Welsh writers, poets and journalists Mererid Hopwood, Alys Conran, Dylan Moore, Jon Gower, Tiffany Murray, Fflur Dafydd, Owen Sheers, Eurig Salisbury, Jay Griffiths and Jenny Valentine.
A panel comprised of Leusa Llewelyn, interim joint CEO at Llenyddiaeth Cymru | Literature Wales, Hay Festival international director Cristina Fuentes La Roche, Hay Festival development director Adrian Lambert and former fellow Dylan Moore made the selection.
Hay Festival is one of the world’s leading literary charities, running Festivals to inspire, examine and entertain globally, featuring Nobel Prizewinners and novelists, scientists and politicians, historians, environmentalists and musicians. Over the past year, the Festival earned 1.5 million web visits and passed one million event views online, while its social media following climbed to 328,000, making it one of the most impactful literary events in the world.
Upcoming editions will take place this autumn and winter across Mexico, Spain, Peru, Colombia and the USA, while the Festival continues to engage with new audiences year-round via its international education offer and digital platforms.
Hanan Issa said: “I am unbelievably excited by this opportunity to explore such incredible places and connect with international writers. I am hoping to understand more about the literary traditions of folklore, fairy tales and poetry from countries I visit and gain a deeper insight of tales from my own heritage in Wales and Iraq.”
Hay Festival international director Cristina Fuentes La Roche said: “We are delighted to welcome Hanan Issa into the Hay Festival International Fellowship. Hay Festival offers a unique space for writers, thinkers and audiences from across the world to share ideas in free, open conversations. From our booktown in Wales, the Festival has now travelled to more than 30 locations, from the historic town of Cartagena in Colombia to the heart of cities in Peru, Mexico, Spain, and the USA, and we look forward to sharing Hanan’s work with this international audience over the next 12 months.”
Eluned Haf, Head of Wales Arts International at Arts Council of Wales said: “We have been delighted to support the Hay Festival International Fellowship over the past decade; it is a fellowship that has opened up important international connections for a range of brilliant writers from Wales and introduced their work to new international audiences. Hanan Issa is a fantastic choice as the next Hay Festival International Fellow. As recently appointed National Poet of Wales, Hanan is a dynamic ambassador for the literature, people and values of Wales and we know that, with the support of the generous network of Hay Festival, she will bring back and share her experiences here.”
Find out more about the Hay Festival International Fellowship and follow Hanan Issa's journey around the world here.