Wales / Cymru
To A Friend In Search of Rural Seclusion:
When all else fails,
Check out these living, breathing Welsh writers and poets. Menna Elfyn writes almost exclusively in Welsh, but her work is available in translation. The others write either in English or in both English and Welsh. Gwyneth Lewis, Wales’ first National Poet, translates herself.
Wales—better yet, Cymru; that’s its name in Welsh—needed its own page on my website. I’m not Welsh by birth or ancestry. I’m simply Welsh by choice.
I first went there to graduate school to study Word and Image theory on an MA program at St David’s University College—now the University of Wales, Trinity St David—in Lampeter, a small market town in West Wales. The course was good but Wales was better. This is what I wrote about my first encounter with the Welsh landscape in my upcoming book:
I’ve never been the same since. Over the past 30+ years since I first set foot in Wales, I’ve:
- Written countless articles and essays about it (really, I’ve written so many I can’t remember them all);
- Been a guest-blogger on Visit Wales website, creating a 15-week series of blog entries on subjects from the National Poet to Coasteering;
- Have learned to speak Welsh on the Wlpan Course, an intensive Welsh-language boot camp, and written a book called Travels in an Old Tongue about attempting to practice my language skills on a 15-country tour around the world. Unfortunately, I need to take the Wlpan again;
- Led Smith College alumnae trips to Wales;
- Designed and led a Wayfarers Hiking trip in Pembrokeshire;
- Taught writing workshops at Ty Newydd, the National Writers’ Centre, in Llanystumdwy, on the Lleyn Peninsula, in North Wales;
- Taught at the Dylan Thomas Summer School in Creative Writing since its founding in 2014 by renowned Welsh poet Menna Elfyn, and directed the program with Co-Director Dominic Williams since 2017. The DTSS runs in late May / early June each year.
- Was made a Fellow of the University of Wales, Trinity St David, in 2014.
- Spent 8 long years (from 2012-2019) writing The Long Field: A Memoir of Wales and the Presence of Absence. It was published in the UK in 2021 by the wonderful Little Toller Books and in 2023 in the US by the equally wonderful Arcade Books.
Click here for news about The Long Field – A Memoir, Wales, and the Presence of Absence.
In addition to Menna Elfyn, check out these living, breathing Welsh writers and poets. Menna writes almost exclusively in Welsh, but her work is available in translation. The others write in English, or Welsh and English. In the case of Gwyneth Lewis, Wales first National Poet, in 2005, she translates herself.