Happy Saint David’s Day /Dydd Gŵyl Dewi

It’s St David’s Day, so let’s celebrate our Welsh/Wales-based writers

Jeremy Dixon (In Retail, Liberty Tales, The Other Side of Sleep)

Nicholas McGaughey (Dusk, An Outbreak of Peace, Noon, Story Cities)

Karen Ankers (Noon)

Gareth Culshaw (Noon)

Diana Powell (Noon)

Ness Owen (Mamiaith, An Outbreak of Peace, Noon, Dusk, Shortest Day Longest Night)

We are publishing Ness Owen’s first collection of poems, Mamiaith on 8th August.

The Title means Mother Tongue and the collection is partially bilingual, because when the manuscript arrived, and there were several poems about the Welsh language, my first question was, why aren’t these in Welsh?

Ness is of an age that she was not taught in Welsh in school but in English, so that Welsh was effectively taught as a foreign language. Although she is a native speaker, she is unconfident of the fine detail fo writing in Welsh. After some discussion we agreed that if she could find someone to help, at least some of the poems should be in both languages.

That help was supplied by Sian Northey in the main, but also Iona Evans.

Mamiaith
Pwy wnaeth ddwyn y geiriau
o geg fy mam a’u taflu yn
ôl ataf mewn darnau sy’n
disgyn i’w lle yn fy mhen ond
yn gwrthod disgyn ar bapur?
Fel perthynas annisgwyl, yn dal
ag ogla capal, yn twt-twtio yn
fy nghlust, ysgwyd ei phen
a thrio fy neud yn ddiarth i fy
eitifeddiaeth.
Wyrion y ‘Not’ pryd nawn ni
dorri’r cortyn? Sut nawn ni
ddweud ein stori yn yr iaith fain?
Yn baglu ac ymddiheuro
dan ni’n anadlu Mamiaith
yn barod am chwyldro
ond yn gwybod y bydd ein
hysgrifen yn ein bradychu.

 

Mamiaith
Stolen from my mother’s
mouth, thrown back to me
in pieces that fit so neatly
inside my head but will
not fall onto the page.
Like an uninvited relation
still smelling of chapel
she tuts in my ear, shakes
her head, tries to make
me a stranger to what’s
already mine.
Grandchildren of the Not
When will we break the chord?
How do we tell our story in
a thin language? Tongue-tied
excusing our way through
we breath in Mamiaith
waiting to be unearthed
always knowing our
pen will betray us.