Lecture Programme and Other Events

Newport & Gwent Literary Club
2015-2016 season

September 2015   Gillian Clarke – National Poet of Wales: public poems and private poems
October 2015        Neil Badmington: the death of the author
November 2015   Catherine Fisher celebrates the 150th birthday of Alice in Wonderland
January 2016       William Ayot: Agincourt and motivational speeches
February 2016     Alyce von Rothkirch – Villains and morality in crime fiction
March 2016          Carolyn Hitt: Wales Play in Red… journalism in Wales
April 2016            Katie Gramich: Happy 200th, Charlotte Bronte
May 2016             The AGM with guests

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: £25 to include dinner.  Advance booking essential.  Venue is the Holiday Inn,  Coldra,  Newport and begin at 6.30pm.

You might also like to visit our Facebook page and like us there…..
or, on Twitter: Bob Mole @newportgwentlit

The programme for the 2015-2016 season of Newport & Gwent Literary Club:

Wednesday 30th September 2015
Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales, launches the new season and talks about the difference between writing “official” poems and writing poems as Gillian Clarke.

Gillian was born in Cardiff and lives in Ceredigion. She has been National Poet for Wales since 2008. She is President of Tŷ Newydd, the Welsh Writers Centre which she co-founded in 1990. Her work has been widely studied for GCSE and A Level for many years. She has published thirteen books for adults, and several for children as writer, translator or editor. Her first prose collection, At the Source, appeared in 2008. Her recent collection of poems, Ice, was short-listed for the TS Eliot Award 2012. In December 2010 she was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and in 2012 the Wilfred Owen Award.

Her prose essays, articles and reviews are widely published. Translations of her work by T Llew Jones, Menna Elfyn and Kate Roberts have been published. Gillian’s commissions include radio and television material, as well as plays for Theatr Powys and Sherman Youth Theatre and for broadcast by the BBC. She has been involved in various editing projects from the Anglo Welsh Review (1976-1984) through to anthologies of children’s poetry by children. Gillian is a member of The Welsh Academy Members’ Committee and is a Fellow of The Welsh Academy.


“…Gillian Clarke’s outer and inner landscapes are the sources from which her poetry draws its strengths…”
Carol Ann Duffy, The Guardian

”…Gillian Clarke’s [poems] ring with lucidity and power…Clarke’s work is both personal and archetypal, built out of language as concrete as it is musical…”
Anne Stevenson, Times Literary Supplement

Selected Publications:
Snow on the Mountain (Christopher Davies, 1971)
The Sundial (Gomer, 1978)
Letter From a Far Country (Carcanet, 1982; 2006)
The King of Britain’s Daughter (Carcanet Press, 1993)
Collected Poems (Carcanet, 1997)
Five Fields (Carcanet, 1998)
Nine Green Gardens: Poems for Aberglasne (Gomer, 1999)
The Animal Wall and Other Poems (for children) (Pont Books, 1999)
Making Beds for the Dead (Carcanet, 2004)
At the Source (Carcanet, 2008)
Recipe for Water (Carcanet, 2009)
Ice (Carcanet, October 2012)

This event is supported by Literature Wales:

Holiday Inn, Coldra, Newport
Advance booking essential – see contact page

Wednesday 28th October 2015
Neil Badmington: the death of the author.

Roland Barthes emphasizes that an author does not exist prior to or outside of language. In other words, it is writing that makes an author and not vice versa.

Neil was born and grew up in Abergavenny in a county with an undecidable, contested status between England and Wales. To quote Raymond Williams, whose childhood home was just a few miles from Neil’s, ‘We talked of “The English” who were not us, and “The Welsh” who were not us’.

His family, like many Welsh families, had high hopes that Neil would one day become a famous international rugby player, but no one was quite sure, given the curious status of Monmouthshire, which national side Neil might play for. ‘You could go either way’, he was often told. Neil didn’t realise it at the time, but this experience of being thrown into an enigmatic culture that was  neither Welsh nor English set him up well for an academic career informed above all by the work of Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida, where clear categories and binary oppositions are a myth, unstable, to be treated with deep suspicion.

After comprehensive school, Neil became the first person in his family to attend university – Exeter  – to study American and Commonwealth Arts. A year at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1992-3 exposed him to critical and cultural theory, and he went on to study for an MA and PhD in this field at Cardiff University in the mid-late 1990s, under the supervision of Catherine Belsey. On completing his PhD in late 1998, Neil was appointed to the English department at Cardiff University, and has been there ever since, no longer in a geographical borderland, but still in an academic one.

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

Wednesday 25th November 2015
Catherine Fisher celebrates Alice in Wonderland’s 150th anniversary: Lewis Carroll – The Red King’s Dream.

“A Christmas gift to a dear child in memory of a summer’s day”. In 1865 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published with illustrations by John Tenniel. It was quickly a publishing sensation and has never been out of print. But what can it all mean?

Catherine Fisher  has won many awards and critical acclaim for her work. Her poetry has appeared in leading periodicals and anthologies and her volume Immrama won the WAC Young Writers’ Prize. She won the 1990 Cardiff International Poetry Competition.

Catherine Fisher

Her first novel, The Conjuror’s Game, was shortlisted for the Smarties Books prize and The Snow-Walker’s Son for the W.H.Smith Award. Equally acclaimed is her quartet The Book of the Crow, a classic of fantasy fiction.

The Oracle, the first volume in the Oracle trilogy, blends Egyptian and Greek elements of magic and adventure and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children’s Books prize. The trilogy was an international bestseller and has appeared in over twenty languages. The Candleman won the Welsh Books Council’s Tir Na n’Og Prize and Catherine was also shortlisted for the remarkable Corbenic, a modern re-inventing of the Grail legend.

Her futuristic novel Incarceron was published to widespread praise in 2007, winning the Mythopoeic Society of America’s Children’s Fiction Award and selected by The Times as its Children’s Book of the Year. The sequel, Sapphique, was published in September 2008.


This event is supported by Literature Wales:

Holiday Inn, Coldra, Newport

Advance booking essential -see Contact page

Wednesday 27th January 2016
William Ayot discusses Agincourt, language and motivation

William Ayot is a poet, presenter and workshop leader.  He has worked with numerous blue chip companies. Born in Hertfordshire, he worked in the gaming industry for over twenty five years while developing as a playwright and poet. He worked closely with Richard Oliver and Mark Rylance on the development of Mythodrama. He coaches senior executives and gives a proportion of his time to working with recovering addicts and the children of alcoholics. He works in prisons and rehabilitation centres using poetry and language as a means of development.

 William’s writing includes: Drama: Bengal Lancer (Haymarket Leicester & Lyric Hammersmith), Division and Conquest (Royal Court, public reading), TV, Radio & Film Commissions. Poetry: Email From The Soul: New and Selected Leadership Poems (Winner of the People’s Book Prize: Special Achievement 2013 (for writing that has, or could, benefit the community); Small Things that Matter (OMA), The Portable Oasis (CD) (OMA), The Water Cage (chapbook, Sleeping Mountain Press). Other Writing includes acceptance speeches, award winners, set pieces for politicians, and keynotes for organisational leaders. He has also written articles and reviews for newspapers such and periodicals. For some years William was the Director of London’s Poetry on the Buses programme.


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

Wednesday 24th February 2016
Alyce von Rothkirch: Villains and Morality in Crime Fiction

…..a view of villains and their crimes in the classic detective story. A wide range of stories by authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Arthur Morrison, Baroness Orczy, Ernest Brahmah, and R. Austin Freeman are examined. Perhaps villains represent various sources of anxiety in late Victorian and Edwardian British society, such as fear of degeneracy, foreign influences, and the increased opportunities for deception arising from moneyed wealth. The success of the classic detective story thus depends as much on the exploitation of contemporary social fears as on the deployment of literary stereotypes.

This lecture is partly based upon an article, ‘His face was livid, dreadful, with a foam at the corners of his mouth’: A Typology of Villains in Classic Detective Stories. Available from:


Dr Alyce von Rothkirch is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Adult Continuing Education at Swansea University, where she teaches English literature. Her research focuses on Welsh writing in English as well as detective and crime fiction. Her latest book is J.O. Francis, Realist Drama and Ethics: Culture, Place and Nation (University of Wales Press, 2014) about the early 20th century Welsh playwright J.O. Francis. She is particularly interested in ethical relationships in literature and is currently exploring human-animal relationships in culture and literature.

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

Wednesday 30th March 2016
Carolyn Hitt is a regular columnist for The Western Mail  and the first woman to win the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame Journalist of the Year award. She has written and presented television and radio series on the arts, popular culture, consumer issues and sport for Radio 4, BBC Wales and ITV Wales. Her passion for rugby has taken her all over the world and secured her interviews with some of the biggest legends of the game. When she became the first woman to win the BT UK Sports Journalist of the Year, the judges praised the way she appeals to a crossover audience with genuine wit, originality of approach and thorough knowledge of the subjects. Wales Play in Red (Gomer 2012) drew from a fascination which began in childhood. Primary school eisteddfod 1976. “Draw a picture that means Wales to you,” said our headmaster. Carol Andrew drew a daffodil. Sara Ellis drew a pit-head wheel. And me? I drew Mervyn Davies.”  The book title is helpful advice to Carolyn offered by a colleague. Gender? Your guess. But who won the prize?

The only thing she hasn’t written yet is her lecture title….


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

Wednesday 27th April 2016
Katie Gramich celebrates Charlotte’s 200th Birthday

Charlotte Bronte was born in Thornton, near Bradford, on 21st April 1816. She was the eldest of the three writers. Thackeray’s daughter wrote a diary note about meeting Charlotte on one of her visits to London: a tiny, delicate, serious, little lady, with fair straight hair and steady eyes. She may be a little over thirty; she is dressed in a little barège dress with a pattern of faint green moss. She enters in mittens, in silence, in seriousness; our hearts are beating with wild excitement. This then is the authoress, the unknown power whose books have set all London talking, reading, speculating;

Image result for charlotte bronte images

Katie Gramich is a critic and editor. Born in Rhydlewis, Ceredigion. Studied English and Spanish Literature at the University of Wales Aberystwyth and King’s College, London, before going on to do a doctorate in Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta, Canada. Has held academic posts at the University of Wales, Swansea; Portsmouth University; Trinity College in Carmarthen; and the Open University. Currently Chair of the Association for Welsh Writing in English and co–editor of the Honno Classics series. Her research interests are in the literature of Wales in both languages, women’s writing, post–colonial and translation studies. She is currently Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Cardiff University.


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

May 2016
The Club’s AGM will include guests who will help us celebrate the end of the season.

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

In 2013-14, speakers were Damian Walford Davies, Andrew Martin, Anne Cluysenaar, Mererid Hopwood, Kevin Myers, Matthew [M.R.] Hall, Chris Barber and Rhian Edwards

In 2014-15, speakers were Alison Lingham, Jonathan Edwards, Peter Florence, CJ Daugherty, Justin Albert, Yvette Roblin, Ifor ap Glyn, Vale of Glamorgan Writing Squad



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