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Christien Gholson's Blog Entries

In an article in this past Saturday’s Western Mail, Siberia-based Parthian author Michael Oliver-Semenov reflects upon the bizarre turns his life took before the publication of his book of poetry, The Elephant's Foot. Five years ago it would have surprised the people around him, and most of all himself, to learn that he would end up in Russia as a writer, a husband and a father, as well as a part-time English teacher at a local kindergarten—but he is absolutely “chuffed” to have arrived at this point. Not a keen student of poetry in school—“Poetry made no sense and all poets were either dead or boring”—poetry seemed to him the domain of old people; “soppy sonnet stuff we were force-fed”. A less –than-glittering high school record shows that geography and English back then were already his saving grace. The books divides its focus between Britain and Russia and has a remarkable autobiographical streak that describes life as a student, a worker, and a father. There is a central theme of personal and universal survival, of overcoming various difficulties or traumas both physical and psychological. “I didn’t want to write poems no one would understand or no one I grew up with would be able to relate to,” says Oliver-Semenov.

Nick Fisk, author of The Blues are Back in Town, was our man in France this week following Wales who were better at staying in Europe than the rest of us.

 

An alarm clock and my father aided me in negotiating the first potential hazard of the adventure, the early start of 5am and a departure from Cardiff airport. After a brief meet at Toulouse airport with the legend Andy Legg who took my offer of a Blues Are Back in Town in return for a quick selfie, Fisk then had to negotiate a more problematic obstacle: poor planning. 

 

I had hoped I would easily meet up with Bastien who, via airbnb, was putting me up for the night, but of course no. Despite assurance from my phone operators, I had no signal on my mobile and had foolishly not stored details in paper form as to where I would be staying.

Mao Oliver-Semenov writing for Wales Arts Review on his debut poetry collection The Elephant's Foot, out now:

 

In the first of a new series of articles, in partnership with Bath Spa University, Wales Arts Review looks at the concept of transnational literature.


In May of this year at the Blue Sky cafe in Bangor, at the goodbye party of iconic 55 year old Welsh language literary review Taliesin, Angharad Price spoke to novelist Alys Conran and translator Sian Northey about Conran’s debut novel, Pigeon, which was published earlier this year simultaneously in English and Welsh.


 

I am in Lidl on Cathays Terrace. There is a sign on the entrance, Lidl loves Cathays. Inside there is a long queue to the checkouts. I have time to watch people.  Lidl on a Sunday is like that, the languages are not all English, or Welsh and the people, students and post-grads are from the four corners. They are shopping on a Sunday, a day-off for most, for Lidl offers – I buy flowers, bleach, toilet-roll, a rose wine, some olives, milk, bread, coffee...

Beyond the tills there is a poster, life-size, sort of, an early triumvirate, I recognise Gareth Bale, Ashley Williams and the other guy – “Together Stronger” it claims or in Welsh “Gorau Chwarae, Cyd Chwarae”, which isn’t the same thing but close. In the evening I have time to watch the football. The tournament in France – Albania beat Romania, France draw with Switzerland – all kicking a ball about, to be part of the world, to win, a game.

I am in Lidl on Cathays Terrace. There is a sign on the entrance, Lidl loves Cathays. Inside there is a long queue to the checkouts. I have time to watch people.  Lidl on a Sunday is like that, the languages are not all English, or Welsh and the people, students and post-grads are from the four corners. They are shopping on a Sunday, a day-off for most, for Lidl offers – I buy flowers, bleach, a rose wine, some olives, milk, bread, coffee...


Beyond the tills there is a poster, life-size, sort of, an early triumvirate, I recognise Gareth Bale, Ashley Williams and the other guy – “Together Stronger” it claims or in Welsh “Gorau Chwarae, Cyd Chwarae”, which isn’t the same thing but close. In the evening I have time to watch the football. The tournament in France – Albania beat Romania, France draw with Switzerland – all kicking a ball about, to be part of the world, to win, a game.


This week a young woman from Groningen joins us here in this company we run for and about words. She is a student at a university, a writer who wants to see more of the world, to be part of a Europe that engages with people. She will come to Swansea, stay by the sea, meet new friends, talk, write, think – the freedom of Europe – she will work with people from Newport and Athens and Hong Kong and Cwmparc and Cardigan – they are together as part of a community of thought and ideas and also just making their way in the world. It is Europe that has allowed this community of people and freedom.

 

Come join us to celebrate The Terry Hetherington Awards at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea at 19:00 on Friday the 24th of June.

 

 

The 2016 Winners

Stan Barstow’s classic novel A Kind of Loving is set for another renovation as its 1962 film adaptation is re-released on DVD and, for the first time, on Blu-ray. Studiocanal and Emfoundation premiered this restoration at HOME Manchester on June 19th 2016, and the inaugural Cinema Rediscovered Festival will premier in the South West on July 29th. Screenings of the film will take place at HOME Manchester on June 21st and 22nd.  This precedes the film’s official UK release which is set for August 1st 2016, over sixty years since the first publication of the novel it is based upon, proving that Barstow’s seminal work is still valued.  

The story that has earned recognition as one of the initial ‘Angry Young Men’ novels of the sixties portrays the working-class Vic Brown grudgingly experiencing marriage following his girlfriend’s pregnancy. Compelled to live with his wife Ingrid and her difficult mother, Vic has to come to terms with love and life, in the traditional British society within which he feels disillusioned.  

Alys Conran's debut novel Pigeon the tragic, occasionally hilarious and ultimately intense story of a childhood friendship set in the Welsh heartland is now available on ebook. Conran's fiction, poetry, and translations have been placed in several competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize and the Manchester Fiction Prize.

Pledge just £10 to get a signed copy and extra treats...

Cawl: A tasty stew of poetry, essays, artwork and prose

'I'm very excited about my Indiegogo campaign for my debut collection Cawl  out through Parthian Books this year. Hoping to raise some money so that it's as unique as possible, full of poems, prose, essays and cartoons.' – Siôn Tomos Owen