Lecture Programme and Other Events

Newport & Gwent Literary Club
2013-2014 season

programme summary…..

September 2013   Damian Walford Davies marks RS Thomas’s centenary year
October 2013        Andrew Martin discusses Railways in British Fiction
November 2013   Anne Cluysenaar, poet, commemorates the life of Alfred Russel Wallace
December 2013   Christmas lunch – details to be finalised
January 2014      Mererid Hopwood marks St Dwynwen’s Day with a world of love poetry
February 2014   Kevin Myers talks about Starting Out as a Playwright
March 2014        Matthew Hall discusses his work on television series dramas
April 2014          Chris Barber walks in the footsteps of Fred Hando
May 2014           Rhian Edwards takes us along the Road to Book of the Year

………………  and full lecture details are below:

To book places at the Club’s events,  please contact Yvette Roblin on           029 2075 4639 by the Sunday before the event. To contact other Club officers, visit the Contacts page of this site. Non-members very welcome.  Cost to non-members: £20 to include dinner.  Advance booking essential.  Events take place at the Holiday Inn,  Coldra,  Newport and begin at 6.30pm.

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The programme for the 2013-2014 season of Newport & Gwent Literary Club:

Wednesday 25th September 2013
Damian Walford Davies discusses the poetry of R.S. Thomas who was born one hundred years ago. Towards the end of the 20th Century he was nominated for the Nobel prize for Literature. Journalists and interviewers often found him a difficult subject to write about and his Who’s Who entry was famously uncommunicative. He was an extraordinarily powerful and often angry poet who wrestled with his view of Wales and his place in Wales.

Damian Walford Davies is a poet, literary critic and editor. He is Reader in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth. He is the co-author of Whiteout (Parthian, 2006), and his first full collection, published by Seren – Suit of Lights– was a Wales Literature Exchange ‘Bookshelf’ choice for 2010. His fields of expertise include Romanticism, the interface between literature and politics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, twentieth-century poetry, and the two literatures of Wales. He is General Editor of The Oxford Literary History of Wales, and was one of the three judges of the 2008 Wales Book of the Year.

R.S. Thomas: Poems to Elsi



This event is supported by Literature Wales  http://www.literaturewales.org/home/
Holiday Inn, Coldra, Newport
Advance booking essential -see Contact page

Wednesday 30 October 2013
Andrew Martin discusses Railways in British Fiction which will include the Sherlock Holmes stories, The Railway Children, some Betjeman poems, Agatha Christie (The 4.50 from Paddington), La Bete Humaine by Zola, Dombey and Son and short stories Mugby Junction and The Signalman by Dickens. Harry Potter may not make the cut. Andrew Martin is a novelist and broadcaster and his crime fiction centres on great railways of the goldenish age. The Necropolis Railway, the first of the series of historical thrillers featuring the railwayman turned railway policeman, Jim Stringer, was published in 2002. It was followed by The Blackpool Highflyer, The Lost Luggage Porter, Murder at Deviation Junction, Death on A Branch Line, The Last Train to Scarborough, The Somme Stations and The Baghdad Railway Club. All of these railway novels are published by Faber. Murder at Deviation Junction and Death on a Branch Line were both shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Ellis Peters Historical Crime Awards in 2007 and 2008; Andrew Martin was shortlisted for the ‘Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in The Library’ Award 2008 for the entire series. The Somme Stations, won the Ellis Peters award for 2011.


This event is supported by Literature Wales  http://www.literaturewales.org/home/
Holiday Inn, Coldra, Newport
Advance booking essential -see Contact page

Wednesday 27th November 2013
Anne Cluysenaar considers Exploring Science through Poetry and takes as her starting-point Usk boy [Llanbadoc, to be exact]  Alfred Russel Wallace (1823 – 1913).

He was one of the 19th century’s most remarkable intellectuals. Not only did he co-discover the process of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin in 1858, but he also made very many other significant contributions, not just to biology, but also to subjects as diverse as glaciology, land reform, anthropology, ethnography, epidemiology, and astrobiology. By the time of his death Wallace was probably the world’s most famous scientist but since then his intellectual legacy has been almost completely overshadowed by Darwin’s, largely thanks to the Darwin Industry of recent decades. This ‘industry’ has led to a highly “Darwinocentric” view of the history of modern biology, and as a result many of the important contributions made by Darwin’s contemporaries, like Wallace, are currently underestimated and undervalued. Wallace died on the seventh of November 1913.  Anne Cluysenaar was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and the University of Edinburgh. She is secretary of the Usk Valley Vaughan Association, editor/poetry editor of Scintilla and visiting teacher of creative writing at the University of Wales, Cardiff. Her collection of poems,  Batu-Angas (Seren, 2008), explores material and spiritual evolution, and includes a poetic biography of Usk-born naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace.



This event is supported by Literature Wales  http://www.literaturewales.org/home/
Holiday Inn, Coldra, Newport
Advance booking essential -see Contact page

Wednesday 29th January 2014
Mererid Hopwood celebrates St Dwynwen’s Day [almost] with a selection of love poetry, enticements, billets doux and other exchanges between friends and lovers on this most romantic of days in the Welsh calendar. St Dwynwen’s day is celebrated in Wales on 25 January and commemorates the patron saint of friendship and love. Dwynwen lived during the 5th century and was one of the prettiest of Brychan Brycheiniog’s 24 daughters. The story goes that Dwynwen fell in love with Maelon Dafodrill, but unfortunately her father had already arranged that she should marry someone else.

Maelon was so outraged that he raped Dwynwen and left her. In her grief Dwynwen fled to the woods, where she begged God to make her forget Maelon. After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice. God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen. First she wished that Maelon be thawed, second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers and third that she should never marry. All three were fulfilled, and as a mark of her thanks, Dwynwen devoted herself to God’s service for the rest of her life. Phew. Mererid Hopwood was born in Cardiff and now lives in Carmarthen. A first-language Welsh-speaker, she studied Spanish and German at Aberystwyth University and gained a PhD from University College London. After spending many years lecturing at universities in London and Swansea, Mererid joined the Arts Council of Wales as a regional director. She then left to work as a freelance writer, becoming the first woman to win the prestigious Chair at the National Eisteddfod in 2001. Mererid has since won the National Crown and continues to be in great demand as a poet, tutor and television presenter. She is also a highly accomplished translator, mainly working between German and Welsh. Should we choose, she could address us tonight in any one of four languages. Maybe five.



This event is supported by Literature Wales  http://www.literaturewales.org/home/
Holiday Inn, Coldra, Newport
Advance booking essential -see Contact page

Wednesday 26th February 2014
Kevin Myers is a young Welsh playwright setting out on one of the hardest roads….. tonight he discusses Starting Out: the experiences of a young playwright……
Kevin has worked for the BBC for over ten years which included being part of the Doctor Who team in Tennant’s days. He directs and performs with Newport Playgoers Society who staged his first two one-act plays, Surviving the Century and Only Words Remain. In January 2013 his first commissioned work, Up The Estate was performed at the Borough Theatre in Abergavenny. Kevin is currently working on a new full-length play.


Holiday Inn, Coldra, Newport
Advance booking essential -see Contact page

Wednesday 26th March 2014
Matthew [M.R.] Hall talks about Writing for Television Series. M R Hall lives and works in the Wye valley. Born in London in 1967, he was educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Worcester College, Oxford. During a career at the Bar, working mostly in the field of criminal law, he tried to learn the craft of screen writing, eventually getting his first commission in television writing an episode of the ITV series, Kavanagh QC starring John Thaw. He wrote further episodes and shortly afterwards was commissioned to create a series for Channel Five, Wing And A Prayer. The first season earned him a BAFTA nomination in the best series category. For over ten years Matthew has been a screen writer and producer, and has written over forty hours of prime time drama for BBC1 and ITV. His debut novel, The Coroner, (Pan Macmillan 2009) was nominated for the Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger in the best novel category. The second novel in the Jenny Cooper series, The Disappeared, was published in the USA by Simon and Schuster in 2009 and in the UK by Pan Macmillan in January 2010. The third novel in the same series, The Redeemed, came out in 2011 and the fourth in the series, The Flight,  in 2012. Translation rights to both The Coroner and The Disappeared have been sold across the world.

The Coroner by M R Hall


This event is supported by Literature Wales  http://www.literaturewales.org/home/
Holiday Inn, Coldra, Newport
Advance booking essential -see Contact page

Wednesday 30 April 2014
Chris Barber celebrates Fred Hando – travels in Gwent. For decades Fred Hando wrote a column for the South Wales Argus in which he described essentially modest journeys throughout Gwent and always revealed something magical behind a door, under the eaves, in a cwm with a running brook. His walks sometimes were just an evening bus ride and a stroll home. The flyleaf of Here and There in Monmouthshire (RH Johns, 1964) says “the advent of massive new factories, wider and swifter roads, and vast housing estates has caused many a change in the Monmouthshire scene. Inevitably things and places which we loved have disappeared but under the new spirit of pride in counbtryside much of value has been preserved. Some credit for this must go to our Author.” His books can still be tracked down and many of us Newport folk have our own battered copies.

Chris Barber often walked with his father and Fred Hando and has gone on to write thirty books including Hando’s Gwent (Blorenge Books, 1987/ revised 2009). Chris has spent all his life in the Newport and Abergavenny areas and in 1994 he took early retirement from his post as Chief Countryside Warden with Gwent County Council. He now works full time as a writer, publisher, photographer and lecturer.  Chris is not only a writer and a photographer, but a publisher as well and his publishing house, Blorenge Books, is a small concern producing books of high quality relating to Wales. Fred Hando and Chris Barber were both awarded an MBE for their work in the community. Fred Hando wrote almost eight hundred articles for the Argus.


Holiday Inn, Coldra, Newport
Advance booking essential -see Contact page

Wednesday 28 May 2014
Following the Club’s AGM, there will be a buffet supper before Rhian Edwards,  poet, author and musician, talks about the Road to Book of the Year.  Rhian’s first collection of poems Clueless (Seren) won the Wales Book of the Year 2013, the Roland Mathias Prize for Poetry 2013 and Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice 2013.

Rhian Edwards

It was also shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2012. Her pamphlet of poems Parade the Fib (Tall-Lighthouse), was awarded the Poetry Book Society Choice for autumn 2008. Rhian is also the current holder of the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry.
Her poems have appeared in the Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, Arete, the Spectator, Poetry London, Poetry Wales, Prague Revue, the London Magazine, Stand, Planet Magazine, the New Welsh Review and the Lampeter Review. Rhian was the first Writer in Residence at Aberystwyth Arts Centre from March to June 2013 and at the G39 Gallery from January to March 2013. She is currently working again on another Sculpture/Poetry project with David Annand in Tondu following their successful collaboration in Bridgend Town.
Rhian is a poet and musician and has delivered over 400 stage, radio and festival performances world-wide. She lives in South Wales with her husband Blake and their dog Lola. They are expecting their first child.


This event is supported by Literature Wales  http://www.literaturewales.org/home/
Holiday Inn, Coldra, Newport
Advance booking essential -see Contact page

Previous guests:
In 2009-10 we had talks from Dr John Davies, Deborah Kay Davies, Dr Katie Gramich, Jeanette Massochi, Mark Crick, Dannie Abse, Catherine Fisher, Margaret Isaac, Geraint Lewis.

In 2010-11 our speakers were Horatio Clare, Gillian Clarke, Mererid Hopwood, Margaret Isaac, Ben Kane, Geraint Lewis, Rohan McCullough.

In 2011-12 we heard Adrian Metcalfe and Rhodri Miles, Tom Anderson, Professor Tony Curtis, Canon Arthur J Edwards, Catherine Fisher, Alison Neil and Geoffrey Brangham.

In 2012-13, speakers were Professor Dai Smith, Dr Juliette Wood, Simon Brett, Derek Richards, Morag Law, Anne Harvey, Nigel Jarrett, John Sheen and Julie McGowan



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