Authors, Poets, Artists

Saturday 29th October

Rhiannon Hooson: Goliat

Goliat is the follow-up to Rhiannon Hooson’s Wales Book of the Year nominated debut, The Other City. This intelligent, sensuous second collection tackles the precariousness of climate emergency and of existing in a human body, along with poems exploring our place in the wider universe

The collection encompasses all of these things: closeness to the monstrous, the deeply human and the more-than-human, a sense of human damage to the natural world. The title poem takes us to the depths of the Russian oil field named Goliat, to the ‘singular infinities of the wintering sea’, where something is starting to sing.

Dr Rhiannon Hooson is an award winning Welsh poet and author.  She has performed at literature festivals across the UK, and her work has been featured in the Guardian, Magma, and Poetry Wales among others. In the last few years, she has been a Literature Wales bursary recipient, a Hay Festival Writer at Work, poetry editor of Creative Countryside magazine, and the judge of the PENfro festival poetry competition. She has a PhD in poetry from the University of Lancaster, and spent time living and working in Cumbria and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, before settling in the Welsh marches. Goliat, her second collection, will be released in October 2022.

Hilary LLewellyn-Williams: The Little Hours

Hilary Llewellyn-Williams is one of the most renowned poets of her generation in Wales. This collection of New and Selected Poems features poems from her earliest as well as her new work. Fully immersed in the natural world, her ‘Tree Calendar’ poems are composed in a richly pagan context: cycles of nature as reflected in the seasons which “reaffirm a mystical link between trees and language”. ‘Book of Shadows’, Llewellyn-Williams’ sequence on Renaissance monk/magician Giordano Bruno, is similarly invested in the mystical and in history, and in the heretical, the subverting or challenging of societal norms. ‘The Little Hours’, a new sequence, continues her interest in the spiritual and historical through a group of poems inspired by the medieval Benedictine day.

Hilary Llewellyn-Williams has written poetry most of her life. Her first collection, The Tree Calendar (1987), won the Welsh Arts Council Young Writer Prize. She subsequently published five collections, the most recent being Greenland (2003). Her poems have been described as “rich, intricate, intense and full of dazzling imagery”, and as having “a remarkably sensuous intelligence”. Her themes range from our relationship with the natural world, myth and folklore, human drama, domestic life, spirituality and the primacy of physical place. She lives in Abergavenny.

Martin Redfern: Putting a Planet into a book

Discover our planet – its place in space, its volcanoes, wild landscapes, deserts and oceans, hurricanes and earthquakes.

That was the brief from DK books for the ‘Earth’ volume in their new Knowledge Encyclopaedia series, published in October.  Martin Redfern was one of the lead authors and describes the process of fitting a 12,000 Km planet with a 4.6 billion-year history into a 200 page book. 
DK is famed for spectacular computer-generated illustrations to wow a young audience and Martin will take us through the process of deciding what to include, and working with designers, editors and artists to produce something spectacular yet scientifically accurate.  Along the way, we learn what’s inside Earth, and why is it so hot under the surface.  How our planet came about, and what it looked like in the beginning; how mountains formed and why volcanoes erupt.

Martin Redfern collected fossils as a child and studied geology at UCL.  He spent 30 years producing science features for BBC Radio and has written or contributed to a dozen books on geology and space.  He lives on the Silurian slopes of Beacon Hill.

Emma Short: ‘Energise your life’

In this simple evidence-based guide Dr. Emma Short offers a fresh perspective on how to lead a healthier, happier and calmer life.  Taking a holistic approach to wellbeing, she explores areas as diverse as exercise, nutrition, the impact of the digital and natural environment, sleep, mindset and not taking on too much.

Dr Emma Short is a Consultant NHS doctor, specialising in histopathology. She studied pre-clinical medicine at Cambridge University and clinical medicine at Oxford University. She completed her basic surgical training in Devon, before moving to Wales for her pathology training.

Emma also has a PhD from Cardiff University in cancer genetics. She also writes blogs on running. ‘During my PhD, I spent many hours at cancer-related conferences, and it was clear that vast amounts of research time and money are spent on the diagnosis of cancer and its treatment. This is vitally important, but significantly fewer resources are spent on health promotion and cancer prevention. I strongly feel that prevention is better than cure, and I’m very passionate about health promotion and disease prevention.

Friday 4 November

Nandita Dowson: Stories from our Mothers – women’s stories from Palestine

The book is a series of stories from their lives by women, mostly Palestinian women from the West Bank, written in Arabic and translated to English.  These include sad and shocking stories by people whose voice rarely gets the attention it should have.

Nandita left teaching a lot of years ago now to work for a charity that works to promote human rights in Palestine. She says: ‘As I grew up with what I now think was a wrong understanding of what is going on in Palestine, I know that people can change their minds and I’m particularly interested in finding ways to help people who have different frameworks of thought listen to and understand each other. I would like to talk about Palestine, Palestinian women, human rights, the work we are doing in the charity I work for, and the amazing project through which this book developed.’

Saturday 5 November

Julie Brominicks: The Edge of Cymru – A Journey

In the year between September 2012 and September 2013 Julie Brominicks walked around the edge of Wales, having given up her job in education for sustainability at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth. As an English incomer and Welsh learner with a long association with the country, she was interested in what Wales meant, and how she did, or didn’t, fit in.
The result is a fascinating alternative travelogue, which merges topography, history, environmentalism and observation of nature, to produce the ‘long view’ of Wales, discovering the roots of today’s issues in the past, sometimes the distant past.
The Edge of Cymru is a refreshingly new way of looking at place, identity, memory and belonging, especially through an environmental lens.
Julie Brominicks was an educator at the Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth. Now a writer, her locational nature features and environmental articles are regularly published in BBC Countryfile Magazine. She lives off-grid, in a caravan, in a secluded valley near Machynlleth.

Martin Rees (Lord Rees of Ludlow): Prospects for Life in the Cosmos

Are we alone?  This is one of the big, outstanding questions of our time.  Astronomers have now identified thousands of planets in other star systems, some of them in the so-called ‘Goldilocks zone’ where there is likely to be liquid water and conditions ‘just right’ for life to flourish. 

Yet SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, has failed to find any signals likely to have come from a technological civilisation. Now, light and radio pollution of our own are hampering the search.  Is there something rare or unique about life on Earth, or do civilisations rise and fall too fast to establish a presence in the cosmos – and is that a lesson for us here on Earth?

Martin Rees is the UK’s Astronomer Royal.  He comes from South Shropshire and holds the title Lord Rees of Ludlow. He is based at Cambridge University where he is a Fellow (and Former Master) of Trinity College and Former Director of the Institute of Astronomy. He has been President of the Royal Society and a member of many foreign academies. His research interests include space exploration, galaxy formation, black holes and cosmology.  He has served on many bodies connected with education, space research, arms control and international collaboration in science. 

In addition to his scientific papers, he has written many general articles and ten books, including, ‘Just Six Numbers’, ‘Gravity’s Fatal Attraction: Black Holes in the Universe’, ‘On the Future: Prospects for Humanity’, ‘The end of Astronauts’, and ‘If Science is to Save Us’ (publication in Sept 2022) 

Caryl Lewis: Drift

Caryl Lewis is an award-winning Welsh novelist, playwright and screenwriter who has published eleven Welsh-language books for adults, three novels for young adults and thirteen children’s books. Drift is her first English language novel.

Nefyn finds the body of a Syrian, Hamza, washed up on the Welsh coast and as she nurses him back to life, her unique powers are gradually revealed. Contemporary concerns of war, displacement and identity are adroitly woven into a story with a magical quality, underpinned by some lovely yearning writing about the land and sea. In times of war, Lewis finds resilience, redemption and hope; right now, Drift feels perfectly judged.

Tim Craven: Sylva – the Tree in British Art History from Thomas Gainsborough to The Arborealists Talk to accompany the Festival exhibition of work by the Arborealists

Tim Craven will explore the reasons why the tree has such a strong legacy in British Art History and consider its use as a motif from the Romantic Movement to the Pre-Raphaelites, the Post-Impressionists, the Pastoral Etchers, the Neo-Romantics, Land Art and the Ruralists.  A metaphor for the human condition, trees are now centre stage as a vital symbol for the global environmental emergency and are the unifying subject for the diverse art practices of The Arborealists.

Tim is Chair of the Friends of Southampton’s Museums, Archives and Galleries and worked at Southampton City Art Gallery for 37 years in conservation, collection management and as Curator. During that time he has curated and co-curated many and various British, Modernist exhibitions. He left the Gallery in 2017 to pursue his own art practice (he holds a fine art degree), curate exhibitions and give lectures. He founded The Arborealists in 2013 and was elected a member of The London Group in 2015.

Alison Webb: The History of the Marcher Castles

This illustrated talk will look at the notion of the Marcher castles in general with specific reference to three  local castles in the Marches : Wigmore, Brampton Bryan and Hopton.

Alison Webb has taught History in secondary schools for 20 years in Essex, Gloucestershire, London and Wiltshire. More recently she has been working as a freelance History teacher to bring History to a wider audience, running  ‘A’ level courses at universities, schools and with the Historical Association. Other collaborations have been with organisations including the Schools’ Music Association in their cathedrals project. At present she works with adults who are interested in History, something she has done for the past 14 years. The illustrated courses usually take place in Shropshire, run for 6 weeks and are on a variety of topics ranging from local to national and international history. She has also worked with Dr Malcolm Lambert, formerly of Bristol University in writing his most recent book: ‘Crusade and Jihad’ and they are now working together on another project about Fallen Women in the Victorian period which they hope will be published next year.