Week 2 of the festival, continuing our author-led readings discussions and workshops, and this week we have online events on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon and evening.
7.30pm Three Takes on Place
readings and discussion from
Diana Powell, Melissa Davies & Sherry Morris
free/donation details and tickets
11:00-13:00 Tales of Transformation: Bisclavret workshop
£8 details and tickets
and at 3pm
Joy//us – LGBTQ poetry reading, open mic and discussion
Jeremy Dixon, Rick Dove & Cherry Potts
free/donation details and tickets
11:00-12:30/13:00 14 great pickup lines, a poets guide to sonnets workshop
with Jennifer A McGowan
£10 details and tickets
and at 3pm Barddoniaeth Cymraeg Gweithdy Cyfieuthu/Welsh poetry translation workshop
with Lowri Williams
participatory workshop on translating Welsh poetry into English
Nod y gweithdy hon yw cyfieuthu cerdd Cymraeg i fewn i’r Saesneg, drwy trafodaeth/cyfieuthu mewn steil grwp
pay what you can £3/5/8 details and tickets
To celebrate our tenth anniversary we are having an online festival throughout January 2023, mostly weekends and Thursdays, although a couple of Tuesdays and Fridays have snuck in.
We invited our authors and friends to run the events they wanted to see, to set their own prices and number of tickets. It’s quite an eclectic mix, readings, discussions and workshops for writers, and about writing, or the business of being a writer. We invite you to join us! Visit the Eventbrite Collection
Sunday 15/01/2023 15:00-16:30 Lowri Williams Translating poetry from Welsh into English (workshop)
suitable for advanced learners of Welsh and native speakers.
10 places – pay what you can £3/£5/£8 details and tickets
Tuesday 24/01/23 18:00-19:30 The Business of writing– The Society of Authors This is very kindly being run for us by two of the coordinators of the Society of Authors Poetry & Spoken Word group: Johanna Clarke and Mathilde Zeeman
Today is Suicide Prevention Day. You might think, What’s that got to do with Poetry?
Quite a bit it turns out, for poet Jeremy Dixon, who recently won the Wales Book of the Year Poetry award.
We have a flash sale today only 50% off with the code PREVENT50 on print book from our webshop and audio or ebook from our e-store
Jeremy’s collection A Voice Coming from Then charts the homophobic bullying he experienced as a teenager and his subsequent suicide attempt, and recovery forging an identity for himself that rejected the negative image he had forced on him by the bullies. Along the way it is heartbreaking and hilarious and joyful.
Reading the poems in manuscript when Jeremy first submitted the collection I was sobbing uncontrollably within pages.
This is the precise response I sent to Jeremy whilst still mopping my tears.
Content warning notwithstanding, you may have to wait a while for a coherent answer, I’m already in tears and I’ve only got to Anne Sexton. Not feeling strong enough for this right now, but if they are all like this, it’s going to be an emphatic YES.
and not much later the same day
And then I had to go back and finish, and of COURSE it’s YES.
I don’t often weep over a MS, but as I know Jeremy a bit from publishing him before and meeting at events, it was probably tougher than reading these from a stranger. Which brings me to the vexed question of Content Warnings.
Jeremy has this to say on the subject in the introduction:
// a note on content warnings
For me content warnings really work. If I am not prepared then sometimes just seeing the word ‘suicide’ has an emotional effect.
And I get it, I really do, I have had a complete melt down from authors sending me (sometimes unsolicited, grrr) graphic distressing material without warning. Some of that is outrage that they think they can do that, at least in a bookshop you’ve chosen to pick the book up, in a MS there’s nothing to indicate what’s there until it’s too late. And I don’t voluntarily read things that are going to upset me, real life is quite sufficient, thanks. BUT it means I probably won’t pick up a book with a content warning on the cover. And other people may think twice too.
When we were recording the audiobook (voiced by the MAGNIFICENT Nigel Pilkington) we cautioned both Nigel and our sound engineer, Jess, that it was potentially an emotional listen, and Jess in particular just shrugged, and said ‘powerful, isn’t it,’ because we had warned her.
The book is peppered with statistics and there are resources at the end.
just one accepting adult
in a LGBTQ+ young person’s life
can reduce the risk
of suicide by 40%
The Trevor Project, 2019
I wanted to be make the book as safe as possible. So as part of that I decided on this, the structure of the poems as couplets so that there would be nothing about the structure or the forms of the poems that would throw people, and then tied to that was the use of statistics to give a kind of grounding to give an overview, to give it a different voice, a research voice, but they were still formatted in the same way as poems so that they’re like tiny, tiny little poems themselves.
Homophobia, bullying, cruelty, suicide attempts… hard, hard things to experience, hard to write about, but in Jeremy’s careful, compassionate hands, emotional, but rewarding, cathartic and inspiring.
As Andy Welch one of the judges of the Wales Book of the Year said during the announcement on Radio Wales,
It just took me aback completely. It was so shocking, but something so beautiful to come out of it.
And Jeremy at the launch of the book said this:
I wonder if [writng the book] is another form of potential protection… in some ways, it’s been a very healing process… once the poem’s written, and especially when it’s in a book, there’s another distancing. I think for me this relates to the book as an object. It’s like everything is contained in that book now, so I don’t need to carry it around with me anymore.
So if, like me, you shy away from a content warning, be encouraged, this is a generous kindly book that doesn’t want to steep you in trauma, it wants to share recovery and particular joy of looking back at a tough time and realising it really is the past, and that by writing about that past we can change our future.
This Autumn we’re taking A Voice Coming from Then on tour in Wales, to celebrate the collection winning the English Language Poetry Category in the 2022 Wales Book of the Year Awards. Join us at one of the events below for readings and conversation with poet Jeremy Dixon (and occasional guests).
Links to tickets for all the events will be updated as they become available.
We couldn’t be more excited to share the news that A Voice Coming From Then by Jeremy Dixon is on the shortlist (of three!) for the 2022 English-language Wales Book of the Year, in the Poetry category.
We are celebrating by holding an online event with the other shortlisted poets, Angela Gardner and Abeer Ameer, on 20th July at 7pm. Get your free ticket here.
A Voice Coming From Then, which we published in August 2021, starts with poet Jeremy Dixon’s teenage suicide attempt and expands to encompass themes of bullying, queerphobia, acceptance and support.
As well as exploring identity, the tragic effects of bullying and the impact of suicide, this collection also includes unexpected typography, collage, humour, magic, discotheques and frequent appearances from the Victorian demon, Spring-heeled Jack.
Jeremy Dixon said: “I am beyond delighted that my collection of poems dealing with bullying, queerphobia and attempted suicide has made the shortlist of Wales Book of the Year 2022. My greatest hope throughout the difficult writing process was that the book would be understood and resonate with an audience beyond myself. For the book to have been selected by the judges is the most unexpected and welcome compliment!”
The Wales Book of the Year Award is an annual prize celebrating outstanding literary talent from Wales across many genres and in both English and Welsh. Today, Friday 1 July, Literature Wales announced which books have reached the English-language Wales Book of the Year Short List 2022.