to Fflur Dafydd’s website.
& Beca, Hay Festival 2012
FESTIVAL WALES 2012
Dafydd on Cerys Matthews and Hay 25
Fflur's Blog • Jun 10, 2012 • 8:52 am
favourite Hay 2012 moment has to be my daughter waking
up in her pram in the Artists’ Restaurant to find
Cerys Matthews peering in at her. “Hi, I’m
Beca,” she said, totally unfazed by it all, while
I – still in awe of my nineties rock icon, mumbled
something along the lines of, “Beca, this is Cerys.
Do you like her hat?”
The previous night, I’d had the great privilege
of opening the show for Cerys at the Soundcastle, to
a sell-out audience, who all listened attentively to
my music as they waited for the great lady to come on
stage. On Tuesday, I’d had a wonderful session
on creative bilingualism in Wales alongside Prof. Wynn
Thomas in the Moot, a chance to promote my Welsh language
fiction, and the grand finale was being able to launch
my recent English language novel, The White Trail, alongside
the wonderful Horatio Clare (and his even more wonderful
bow tie), at The Digital Stage. It struck me that only
in the Hay Festival would you be able to have such diverse
experiences as an artist and still have a new, interested
gathering of people at each event. Other highlights
included seeing the 2012 Scritture Giovani participants
reading their work – a reminder of the Hay new
writers’ project that started everything for me
as a writer, back in 2005.
This was my first Hay with toddler-in-tow and bump-in-belly,
and yet my busiest festival to date. The wonderful thing
about having a toddler with you in the Green Room is
that they can go up to your literary heroes and grab
their pens and play with their shoes and shove balloons
in their faces and are perceived as cute, whereas you
would look like a stalker if you attempted the same
thing. But cunningly you get an autograph in the process
– “oh dear, I’m very sorry about that,
by the way, would you mind….?” And the strange
advantage of a muddy Hay-field is that it forces everyone
into the pregnancy-waddle, so you don’t feel alone
in your struggle to affect a bohemian walk…
INTERVIEW: TUESDAY 05 JUNE 2012
Are there certain things you can write more about more
easily in English or Welsh. I imagine each to be more
conducive to a particular style or subject matter…?
some ways, it’s easier to write about the Welsh
language and Welsh identity in English, because the
subject matter seems new and fresh in English, and presents
a creative and linguistic challenge. It is equally exciting
to write about strange or ‘foreign’ experiences
in Welsh, as I did in my last collection of short stories
in Welsh, Awr y Locustiaid (Hour of the Locust) which
featured stories set in Italy, Finland, and unnamed
territories. I think that I try to use both languages
in a way that finds something new or different within
What does being an international Hay fellow mean?
will mean visiting the other international Hay festivals
across the world and presenting my work to new audiences
– I’m very much looking forward to the challenge
in 2013-14 and grateful to the Hay festival for the
opportunity. Current International Hay Fellows are Jon
Gower and Tiffany Murray, who have done a fantastic
job – they are a tough act to follow! I will be
accompanied by Owen Sheers, who happens to be a good
friend and also someone I have collaborated with a great
deal, so hopefully we can also put on some shows together
as we travel.
What are you first… musician or writer?
am first and foremost a writer, but feel lucky that
music has become such a big part of my life. I don’t
think I’d be a performer unless I wrote my own
material – as it is all about communicating that
work to the audience – so I guess that creativity
and writing is always the source of everything I do.
Had your mother not been Menna Elfyn, and had she been
‘Mrs Jones’ from number 32 who owns the
fruit and veg stall, and had you been brought up in
an English speaking council estate in Wales, would you
have chosen the same career? And if so, do you think
you would have enjoyed the same degree of success?
question! I guess it is all part of the nature/nurture
debate. Well, my brother works in PR and business so
I guess it is possible to be the offspring of Menna
Elfyn and do something sensible with your life! But
I guess that writing is in the genes to some degree
– for one thing, I grew up thinking that being
a writer was a pretty ‘normal’ thing to
do, and therefore never questioned my passion for it.
In terms of how it has contributed to my success –
I would like to think that I’ve worked hard on
my career without relying in any way on my mother! I
don’t write poetry, and am very much a fiction
writer, so we are very different. We don’t share
the same name, either, which is a blessing, as a lot
of people don’t know we’re related. Now
they do…thanks for that!
Do you respond well to criticism of your work, or do
you take things personally?
I am much better at reading reviews than I used to be.
At first I took everything personally. Now that I’ve
matured more as a writer, I have learnt how to take
good things away from bad reviews, especially if they
are well written and constructive. I don’t dwell
on things, and occasionally I’ve been inspired
to write more, and write better novels, through listening
carefully to criticisms from readers and reviewers.
Do you feel that literary texts lose some of their original
meaning in translation, and would you be comfortable
with another person translating your work on your behalf
or would you want to maintain control of it?
on the whole do a fantastic job, and when I’ve
been translated into other languages that I don’t
speak – German or Italian for instance –
I put my absolute faith in the translators to ease the
meaning across, even if it means appropriating the meaning
somewhat. I think because I can write in English I’m
reluctant to let myself be translated by someone else
in English, as I may want to take even more liberties
with the text than a translator would. I am currently
rewriting my last Welsh novel in English, and I’ve
taken the liberty of changing cast, which a translator
would never be allowed to do…but I cannot offend
myself, so I feel completely free doing it.
To what extent would you categorise your work as autobiographical?
think in some way, all work is informed by your own
feelings, passions, & experiences, so there is an
element of autobiography in everything you write. But
my second novel, Atyniad, was perhaps a little too autobiographical,
as I was trying to find a style to access very personal
feelings, and I don’t think I would ever write
another novel as personal as that again. As I get older
I feel I become less self-centered – so maybe
there is a natural movement away from myself as subject.
My songs, however , have moved in the other direction,
as I’ve just launched an album which is very personal,
based on people who have influenced me.
Do you perceive of yourself as belonging specifically
to the literary tradition of Wales, or do you see yourself
more as an international literary figure with a global
outlook and multiple inspirations?
would like to think I’m outward-looking, and feel
that to be Welsh is to belong to a larger world-tradition
of peripheral voices. But as there is no escaping my
identity and background, Wales is very much where I’m
rooted and where I will continue to draw inspiration
from – but I feel it’s very important to
link our culture to other cultures that have similar
experiences of marginalisation and ‘difference’.
To what extent do you feel that your writing is inspired
by place and location, and especially by the Welsh landscape?
think that the experience of being on Bardsey Island
as a writer-in-residence really inspired me as a writer,
and made me look at the whole of Wales differently.
Since then, I’ve gone on to use the landscape
of Wales in my writing in a variety of ways, and also
to try to depict iconic places in Wales as new and exciting
places – such as the National Library of Wales.
It struck me that the landscape is full of possibility
and again would be unique to an ‘outside’
Do you feel that the stories of the Mabinogion have
had, and continue to have, an effect on writing in Wales?
Can you sense the influence of these mythological tales
in your own writing?
afraid my answers will get shorter now as my event is
about to start! Yes, absolutely, there is a tradition
of surrealist storytelling in Wales, especially in Welsh,
which could be attributed to the Mabinogion. When I
rewrote Culhwch and Olwen as The White Trail I was yet
again struck by how unique some of our tales are.
Mumford & Sons have shot into the mainstream spotlight,
along with a lot of rising folk talent, including yourself
– do you think there’s been a folk revival?
think that people have been living simpler lives recently,
and the old tradition of folk music, and the more direct
message of the folk song has struck a chord with audiences
all across the world.
You have enjoyed great success as both a singer and
a writer. Do people ever think that you are two separate
people, and know your work in each field independently,
or is there a lot of cross-over with your fans?
lot of people do think there are two of me – one
who sings, one who writes…all I can say is, I
wish there were two of me! One could stay at home and
look after the baby and the other could go out and entertain
– life would be so much simpler. But in general
there is a lot of cross-over, and the event I’m
about to take part in involves music and literature,
and I think people like to have a bit of both in events
What other Welsh artists are you inspired by?
Morgan, Lleuwen Steffan, Steve Eaves, Jon Gower, Chris
Meredith, Stevie Davies.
If you could ask yourself any one question about your
work, what would it be??
didn’t I choose a more sensible career? I all
seriousness I ask myself questions about the content
of my books and characters all the time…I keep
a book of questions so I can address some problems I
think the work may have – and I try to question
myself as a writer with the mentality of a reader so
I can find the gaps and the things that won’t
ring true. I think that if you are an author, you are
endlessly questioning yourself…the only time you
need to worry is when you stop doing it!
for all your questions – I have to dash off to
my event now, but thanks for giving me a head start!!
on the poster above to enlarge)
New Album: Ffydd Gobaith Cariad
RELEASE DATE: 04/06/2012
her success in 2010, when she was named BBC Radio Cymru
Female Artist of the Year, Fflur Dafydd is back, with
a brand new sound. “Faith Hope Love,” is
the fourth album from the Carmarthen-based singer-songwriter,
and is a folk-inspired, melodic album, influenced by
the likes of John Martyn, James Taylor, and Nanci Griffith,
and is described as a “musical family tree,”
which pays tribute to many influential people in the
songs include moving songs written in memory of her
grandparents, as well as tributes to more well-known
figures such as Ray Gravell, the rugby player and broadcaster,
who was a great influence on Fflur. There are several
instances of songs written for special occasions, such
as Fflur’s unique take on the reading from St.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. She has also
collaborated with the poet Owen Sheers, turning one
of his poems into a powerful ballad.
for the first time, Fflur has provided parallel texts
in English for the listener to follow in the booklet.
These translations also stand as songs in their own
right, which is perhaps no surprise considering Fflur
Dafydd has been awarded many literary prizes for her
novels, including the Prose Medal for Literature and
the Oxfam Hay Emerging Writer of the Year Prize in 2009.
think it’s very important to give people a second
take on the song in translation,” Dafydd explains.
“I’ve done the same thing with my novels
to some extent, rewriting a Welsh-language novel in
English with a different audience in mind, and I find
that different languages bring out a different quality,
or even a different theme in a piece of work, which
make the versions very interesting to compare, and of
course give you double the options when it comes to
being pregnant with her second child, Dafydd is busier
than ever, and will be launching “Faith Hope Love”
at the Hay Festival, in a special gig with Cerys Matthews
at the Hay Castle on June 7th, as well as performing
in two other events at Hay as a novelist.
1) Rhoces 2) Ffydd
Gobaith Cariad 3) Ray o’r Mynydd
4) Y ferch sy’n licio’r
5) Martha Llwyd 6)
Frank a Moira 7) Y Porffor Hwn 8)
Brawd Bach 9) Elfyn
10) Rachel Myra.
June: 5th – 8th Hay Festival,
Hay on Wye / 16th Cricieth Festival
23rd Gwyl yr Hen Dre, Carmarthen / 27th Chepstow Festival
/ 29th GwdiHw, Cardiff
7th Theatr Soar, Merthyr Tydfil / 14th Hanner Cant Festival
8th National Eisteddfod
above for more
information on 'The White Trail'
NEWS / PRESS RELEASE: October 2011
STORIES FROM THE MABINOGION
THE WHITE TRAIL by Fflur Dafydd
Seren’s NEW STORIES FROM THE MABIONGION series
launched to great acclaim in 2009, with the joint publications
of Owen Sheers's White Ravens
and Russell Celyn Jones's The Ninth Wave.
2010 saw the release of the next two novels in the series:
The Meat Tree by Gwyneth Lewis and The Dreams
of Max and Ronnie by Niall Griffiths.
This year, prominent Welsh writers Fflur Dafydd and
Horatio Clare pick up the baton, reworking the medieval
Welsh myths with The White Trail
and The Prince’s Pen.
Mabinogion contains eleven stories taken from two 14th
century manuscripts collating a much earlier oral tradition.
Widely influential in European and World literature,
and giving rise to the literary figures of Arthur and
Merlin, they were first translated into English in the
19th century by Lady Charlotte Guest. They are magical
stories of giants and kings of the underworld, enchantment,
conflict, peacetime, fidelity, love and betrayal.
series of new stories inspired by the Mabinogion may
be the greatest service to the Welsh national epic since
Lady Charlotte Guest published her translation of the
medieval folk tales in the mid-19th century." The
his wife, who is nine months pregnant, seems to vanish
into thin air at a supermarket one wintry afternoon,
Cilydd asks his cousin, Arthur – a private eye
who has never solved a single case – to help him
with the investigation.
begins a tale of intrigue, confusion and a trail that
leads them to a pigsty, a cliff edge and a bloody warning
that Cilydd must never marry again. Eventually this
unlikely hero finds himself on a new and dangerous quest
– a hunt for the son he never knew, a meeting
with a beautiful and mysterious girl, and a glimpse
inside the House of the Missing.
The White Trail Fflur Dafydd
transforms the Arthurian myth of the Mabinogion’s
Culhwch and Olwen into a 21st century quest
for love and revenge.
Dafydd is the author of four novels and one
short story collection including Y Gwir Am Gelwydd
(The Truth About Lies), Lliwiau Liw Nos (Colours by
Night), Atyniad (Attraction) and Twenty Thousands
Saints. She won the Oxfam Hay Emerging Writer of
the Year Award 2009 and is the first female author ever
to have won both the Prose Medal and the Daniel Owen
Memorial Prize at the National Eisteddfod. She has been
a writer-in-residence on Bardsey Island, Wales and in
has also released three albums as a singer-songwriter
and was named BBC Radio Cymru Female Artist of the Year
in 2010. She lectures in Creative Writing at Swansea
University and lives in Carmarthen with her husband
is an independent literary publisher specialising in
English writing from Wales driven by quality writing
across a wide-ranging list which includes poetry, fiction,
translation, biography, art and history. In 2011, Seren
was one of four independent publishers to be included
on the Man Booker Prize Longlist for The Last Hundred
Days by debut author Patrick McGuinness.
NEWS: April 2010
DAFYDD WINS INAUGURAL MAX BOYCE PRIZE AND IS NAMED FEMALE
ARIST OF THE YEAR IN THE RADIO CYMRU MUSIC AWARDS
Fflur Dafydd and Rachel Trezise were awarded the brand
new Max Boyce literary prize at Glynneath library recently.
Their books, Dial M for Merthyr and Y Llyfrgell, were
selected by readers across Wales from a competitive
shortlist of 5 influential books to be published in
the last 10 years in Wales.
a real thrill to receive a prize that is voted for by
the readers themselves,” Fflur said. “Over
the past two years I’ve travelled to countless
book clubs and reading communities in Wales and I always
find that it is the readers themselves who are most
insightful and honest in their approach to the book,
and it is therefore a great honour to receive their
is the third prize for Fflur, who was awarded the Daniel
Owen Memorial Prize at the National Eisteddfod last
year, as well as being named Oxfam Emerging Writer of
the Year at the Guardian Hay Festival.
fortnight later, Fflur received the Female Artist of
the Year award at the Radio Cymru Rock and Pop Awards
2010. Her album, Byd Bach, which reached no. 1 in the
Welsh charts, was also nominated for album of the year,
and its producer, Tim Hamill, was also nominated for
a huge honour to receive an award like this,”
Fflur said. “Radio Cymru has been so supportive
of us as a band for many years, and we’re also
greatly indebted to the wonderful audiences who have
given us the gigs and kept buying our albums. Byd Bach
is an album we are all very proud of – I’m
fortunate to work with a great team of musicians and
a high-quality producer, and this award is a wonderful
highlight in our career as a band.”
on the poster above to enlarge)
Dafydd a'r Barf: New Album Out - 16th November, 2009
Fflur Dafydd a'r Barf - Album Launch:
Dafydd releases her third album, "Byd Bach"
(Small World), a concept album full of songs about various
locations in Wales, featuring Aberaeron, Penrhiwllan,
Cardiff, Porthgain, and the A470.
Carmarthen Quins Rugby Club
• Friday, 13th November 2009
• £5 Entry fee, all proceeds go to Plaid
• November 13 - Carmarthen Quins Rugby Club, Album
• November 20 - Duke of Clarence, Cardiff
• November 21 - Carmarthen Golf Club
Bach - click here to read the press release)
DAFYDD WRITER IN RESIDENCE AT INTERNATIONAL WRITING
PROGRAM, IOWA UNIVERSITY
is currently writer in residence at Iowa University,
where she will be researching her next English language
novel, The Library, between September 3rd and October
12th, 2009. She is supported by the British Council
and will also be taking part in a number of events –
Schedule of Events for Fflur Dafydd
(as of 8/20/2009:)
Public Events in Iowa
9/9: Reading at Prairie Lights Books, 7:00 PM
15 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City, IA USA
9/25: Panel Presentation at the Iowa City Public Library,
Meeting Room A, 123 South Linn Street, Iowa
City, IA USA
(319) 356-5200; http://www.icpl.org/
Topic: “Translation/Writing Between Languages”
Description: In what ways has translating,
or writing across more than one language, been important
to your literary thinking and/or to your creative
panelists: Vicente Groyon (Philippines), Soheil Najm
(Iraq), Lijia Zhang (China)
• NB: other events are forthcoming
and may include one or more musical performances by
Fflur at one of several venues in downtown Iowa City.
Academic Presentations/Classroom Visits in Iowa
(NB: Classroom visits are NOT open to the public)
• 9/21 International Literature Today.
Fflur Dafydd will speak for 15-20 minutes to students
enrolled in this undergraduate literature course.
Special Seminar in Creative Writing
Fflur Dafydd will teach a special creative writing seminar
to undergraduates at the University of Iowa. This four-week
course will meet from 2:30-4:30 PM on 9/11, 9/18, 9/25,
and 10/2. Students will gather in a seminar room at
the Writers’ House at 111 Church Street, a unique
campus space dedicated to fostering writing, artistic
collaboration, and literary performance at the University
Activities in Portland, Oregon, 10/3-10/9
(Includes public events and classroom visits)
Fflur Dafydd will join four other IWP writers in Portland,
Oregon for several days of readings, talks, and other
professional programming. Barry Sanders (west-coast-based
author, Senior Fulbright Scholar, two-time Pulitzer
Prize nominee, and English professor) is hosting this
series of literary events, in collaboration with colleagues
at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland State
University, Oregon Council for the Humanities, and other
local partners. This will be the first IWP delegation
to take part in such a dynamic slate of activities in
precise programme in Portland is still TBD, but will
include some or all of the following activities:
An opening reception at Pacific Northwest College
of Art, a fine arts college located in the city of
Visits to classes at PNCA and the opportunity to participate
in a group reading in the Commons, a large open art-space
in the heart of campus: http://www.pnca.edu/studentlife/facilities/commons.php
An informal roundtable discussion at Portland State
University, sponsored by the creative writing department
and the English department on the topic of politics
Trips to see the countryside of the Pacific Northwest--the
Gorge, the falls, the many rivers, etc.
on one of the above images for more information on 'Y
here to view the winning
ceremony on BBC iPlayer
BARDSEY NUNS TO ARMED LIBRARIANS - OXFAM HAY EMERGING
WRITER OF THE YEAR SCOOPS TOP WELSH FICTION PRIZE
on the heels of her success at the Guardian Hay Festival,
where she was named Oxfam Hay Emerging Writer of the
Year for her first English novel Twenty Thousand
Saints, is yet another prestigious literary prize
for Fflur Dafydd. On Tuesday 4 August, Fflur scooped
the Daniel Owen Memorial Prize at the National Eisteddfod
of Wales for a controversial Welsh-language novel, Y
Llyfrgell (The Library.) This is the second Eisteddfod
prize for Fflur, who won the coveted Prose Medal in
2006, and this is also her fourth novel. Fflur was presented
with a £5000 cash prize and the Daniel Owen Memorial
Medal, as well as receiving a special
hard-bound copy of her novel.
novel, set in 2020, takes a satirical look at one of
the most iconic Welsh institutions, the National Library
of Wales. It follows a group of characters during one
dramatic day when two armed, female librarians take
the readers hostage in the reading room. This black
comedy’s satire targets librarians as well as
academics; civil servants, poets, politicians and even
porters. The author throws them mercilessly together
into a sinister, bizarre, and darkly funny scenario.
Its topicality, meanwhile, draws on recent library closures,
and it gives an intelligent spin to digitisation and
the impending threat of the e-book. Y Llyfrgell
presents a world where women have the top jobs, where
politicians hold too much sway over what gets published
and documented, and it raises important questions about
the author’s role in a digitised future.
judges of the competition, John Rowlands, Geraint Vaughan
Jones and Rhiannon Lloyd, were unanimous in their decision
and commended the author’s innovation and ingenuity,
describing Fflur’s novel as “brimful of
humour, unforgettable characters, and an excellent narrative”.
The novel marks out a new genre in Welsh-language fiction,
which is a playful take on the literary mystery, allying
Y Llyfrgell closer to international works such
as Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind or
Ann Patchett’s political siege novel Bel Canto
than anything previously published in Welsh.
Llyfrgell was inspired by Fflur’s many visits
to the National Library of Wales as a PhD student, back
in 2004. She said,
was there every day for three months, and found myself
dreaming up all sorts of dramatic scenarios! As one
of our most important national institutions, the Library
holds all our secrets and history, but because of its
decorum and its silence, this is the last place one
would expect any kind of uprising. That tension interests
me as a writer.”
Thousand Saints, the work which won Fflur the Oxfam
Hay Emerging Writer of the Year is set on Bardsey Island
amid a temporary community including a lesbian political
activist-turned nun, an archaeologist and an ex-convict.
It has received fantastic and wide-ranging reviews including
in The Guardian, Diva magazine, Western Mail and
Prospect magazine, where it was 2008’s pick
of the year; the novel is currently in the summer selection
of the bookshop promotion Exclusively Independent. Hay
Festival director Peter Florence has been a consistent
and vocal advocate of Twenty Thousand Saints,
describing it as, The most compelling novel I’ve
read in years; a love story, a thriller, and a profound
meditation on language and identity... [Fflur Dafydd
ranks alongside] Sarah Waters, Kate Atkinson and Zoe
Heller [in representing] the blossoming and triumphs
of a whole new generation of young women writers.”
Dafydd is a singer songwriter and novelist from Carmarthen,
who currently lectures in the English Department at
Swansea University. She is a graduate of UEA’s
prestigious creative writing course and also has a PhD
on the poetry of R.S. Thomas. In September, she will
be taking up a 6-week residency at the University of
Iowa’s International Writing Program, the US’
most prestigious centre for creative writing, where
she will also be writing and researching her next English-language
'Y Llyfrgell': National Library
'Y Llyfrgell': Western Mail
'Y Llyfrgell': Meirion and District
National Eisteddfod, 2009
Dafydd named as Emerging Writer of the Year at Hay Festival
Author Fflur Dafydd was last night
announced as the winner of the Oxfam Emerging
Writer of the Year Award at the Guardian
Hay Festival. During a special ceremony at
the Sky Arts Dinner, Peter Florence, director of the
festival, declared that Dafydd’s novel Twenty
Thousand Saints, a literary thriller set
on Bardsey island, was the best novel he’d read
in the past ten years, and that she was one of the most
exciting young fiction writers to emerge from Wales.
This is Dafydd’s first work of fiction in English,
and she was awarded was the Prose Medal at the National
Eisteddfod in 2006 for her Welsh language novel Atyniad.
David McCullough, Director of Oxfam
said “We are very happy to work in partnership
with the Hay Festival this year and congratulate Fflur
Dafydd on being the first winner of our Emerging Writer
of the Year Award.”
part of her prize, she was presented with a very rare
first edition hardback copy of Harper Lee’s To
Kill a Mockingbird, donated by Oxfam’s
books product development manager, Graham Draisey.
also took part in two successful events at the Guardian
Hay Festival, reading with Dylan Thomas Prize Winner
Nam Le, and the writer and broadcaster Jon Gower.
will now embark on a reading tour to promote Twenty
Thousand Saints, appearing at the Latitude
Festival, Suffolk and the Writers’ Reunion in
Thousand Saints is published by Alcemi
Thousand Saints': Catherine Taylor, The Guardian
» 'Twenty Thousand Saints':
Author's Notes, Western Mail
» 'Twenty Thousand Saints':
» 'Twenty Thousand Saints':
'Twenty Thousand Saints': SwanseaLife