Announcing our Stori i Bawb Course Cohort
Nine new and exciting children’s writers attend a course at Tŷ Newydd.
Back in December 2021, Literature Wales and the Books Council of Wales launched a call-out for under-represented writers to apply for an opportunity to take part in a Welsh-language residential course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre. Led by the writer and arts facilitator Elgan Rhys, along with other guest writers, the course would offer workshops, talks and discussions to help new authors develop creative writing craft for middle grade (8-12 years old) and young adults (12+).
A similar project was held in English at Tŷ Newydd in March, and you can read about our Books for All course for Wales-based writers of colour on our website.
Books are beneficial, especially for children and young people as they seek to understand and learn about the world around them. According to a recent report by the National Literacy Trust, 3 in 5 children said that reading made them feel happier, with half of the children saying that reading enabled them to dream of the future. But what happens if a child does not see themselves and their families represented in the books available?
This course will be a practical step in ensuring that Welsh-language books for children and young people are relevant to every child in Wales. By offering training to writers with relevant lived experiences, we hope to publish more books featuring inspirational stories about characters from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, characters living with disabilities, and portraits of families that include LGBTQ+ members. Diverse books will also ensure that children in the whole of Wales are introduced to the wonderful variety of communities and family backgrounds that exist, aiming to create kinder and more proud generations for the future.
Fast forward to 2022, the Stori i Bawb cohort have just completed their week-long residential course at Tŷ Newydd. During the course, held between 25 – 29 April, the writers enjoyed several workshops and tutorial sessions from Elgan Rhys, as well as workshops led by author Manon Steffan Ros. Virtual sessions were also held with Y Pump co-authors, Tomos Jones, Mahum Umer, Leo Drayton, Nia Morais and Megan Hunter; a session with award winning children’s writer Patience Agbabi and an industry afternoon with representatives from Wales’ publishing sector.
The nine writers are:
Amy Louise Warrington is 21 years old and lives in Penygroes, Caernarfon. She loves reading and creating books. She’s always wanted to become an author in order to prove that disabiity doesn’t define you. Amy is Deaf in both ears, and wears a cochlear implant in her left side ear. She lip-reads and is currently learning BSL Level 3. Amy is currently studying creative writing at Coleg Menai in Bangor.
Anita Myfanwy is a former History teacher who also worked as the Gwynedd and Anglesey Domestic Abuse Co-ordinator and then as the Development Officer for the End Child Poverty Network Cymru to promote the rights of children and young people across Wales. She campaigned tirelessly for children and young people experiencing violence and poverty, and disengaged children. She also volunteered and led evenings for the Friends of Cae’r Gors. She has been attending creative writing courses at Tŷ Newydd regularly for many years, and is really looking forward to this one too!
Catrin Menai is an artist working between Wales and Glasgow. She uses words, film and found objects as ways to explore chains of association, methods of exchange, and various forms of company. More recently these methods are being used by Catrin to translate texts and ideas for children, moving through language in a way that feels fluid, narrow and wide at the same time, when considering the parts which moves and breathes inside and outside a story, something Catrin refers to as as ‘invisible architecture’.
Gwenno Llwyd Till is originally from Nant Gwynant, but now lives in Cricieth and North London. She is in her second year at University of the Arts London (UAL) studying film and television. Gwenno is a filmmaker and photographer, and hopes to expand her written work to create scripts through the medium of Welsh.
Kayley Sydenham comes from Newport, and is in her first year studying Welsh at Bangor University. One of her favorite pleasures is wandering, especially in the countryside, at the seaside, and in the mountains – an interest that also inspires her artwork, and her creative writing. Kayley won the main poetry award at Eisteddfod T in 2021, and is interested in learning cynghanedd.
Mair Jones (she/her) is a freelance historian and writer from Ceredigion, with a History of Wales MA, who writes poetry, stories and shares minoritized Welsh history online. She’s written blogs for the National Library of Wales, the National Museum of Wales and also poetry for local booklets. Also, she spoke about Welsh history on Recordiau Rhys Mwyn and for the Ceredigion Museum website. After being a part of a writing group in Aberystwyth, Mair has led workshops on writing historical fiction and on Welsh history. She also wrote a script for a short Iris in the Community film and a short drama that was performed at the National Eisteddfod by Dirty Protest Theatre. She’s excited to write more fiction again and to write more in Welsh.
Martha Ifan is originally from Carmarthen. She studied Welsh at Aberystwyth University before moving to Cardiff where she now works as a translator. She has a keen interest in children’s literature and has already written children’s short stories for BBC Radio Cymru’s Stori Tic Toc series. She loves to run and although she is out of it for the time being after knee surgery, she is looking forward to restarting soon!
Mae Rufus Mufasa yn artist cyfranogol, bardd, rapiwr, gwneuthurwr theatr, cerddor, cyfansoddwr, ymgyrchydd llenyddol ac yn fam. Bu yn Gymrawd i’r Barbican, a hi oedd Bardd Preswyl cyntaf i Gomisiynydd Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol. Mae wedi teithio gyda’i llenyddiaeth dros y byd – i Sweden, Indonesia, Zimbabwe… ond mae bob amser yn dychwelyd i Lanelli at elusen People Speak Up i hybu hip-hop, barddoniaeth a phrosiectau rhyng-genedlaethol i wella iechyd a llesiant drwy’r celfyddydau. Cyhoeddwyd casgliad cyntaf o farddoniaeth Rufus, Flashbacks and Flowers (Indigo Dreams) yn 2021.
Rufus Mufasa is a pioneering participatory artist, literary activist, poet, rapper, singer songwriter, theater maker, and last but not least, Mother. From Barbican Fellow to the first Future Generations Act Poet in Residence, Rufus also works internationally – in Sweden, Indonesia, Zimbabwe… but always returns to People Speak Up in Llanelli, promoting hip hop education, performance poetry and intergenerational development. Flashbacks and Flowers is her debut collection (Indigo Dreams, 2021).
Sara Louise Wheeler is a poet, writer, and artist. She writes the O’r Gororau column for Barddas magazine, where she reflects on all kinds of frontier experiences. Sara is currently working on several creative projects, including Y Dywysoges Arian, a trilingual ballet opera about her experiences of living with Waardenburg Syndrome Type 1 with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru; Creativity is Mistakes, a pilot project for Welsh visual artists with Disability Arts Cymru; and two bilingual volumes of poetry that she hopes to publish in 2022, Confylsiwn/ Convulsion and Cwilt Clytwaith Goareig/ A Goan-Welsh Patchwork Quilt.