We were delighted to read, in an article on Crickhowell in a recent Saturday edition of The Times, a reference to its ‘renowned Literary Festival’. Our reputation, after only one year, will surely be enhanced by the programme for this second festival, which is set to eclipse the hugely successful festival of 2015. The larger number of events this year, which span the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries, encompass an even wider range of interests, historical periods and genres. But at its heart the festival remains a celebration of Welsh identity and culture, and as such, we are delighted to welcome, as President of the Crickhowell Literary Festival, one of Wales’s most highly acclaimed writers and poets, Owen Sheers.
Welshness is celebrated during the nine days of the festival in many ways: the work of iconic Welsh writers is remembered, authors tell stories of life lived in rural Welsh communities, the five-hundred-year history of Welsh painting is celebrated and there is also an opportunity to learn the basics of the Welsh language. Welsh rugby makes a guest appearance in a conversation between referee Nigel Owens and commentator Eddie Butler, and many other events, delivered by local poets and writers, celebrate the Welsh landscape, community and the nation’s passion for music, literature and art.
Alongside these Welsh-centred events are others incorporating international and global history, politics and culture. 2016 is the year of two significant literary anniversaries: the 400 years since the death of Shakespeare is marked by a discussion of the last great enigmatic play, The Tempest, and a talk by the renowned Royal Shakespeare Company director Bill Alexander. To mark the bicentenary of the the birth of Charlotte Bronte there is a talk on the equally enigmatic Jane Eyre. The Cornish landscape is evoked in talk on Daphne du Maurier and the world is really our oyster as the American South is explored in a discussion of Gone with the Wind alongside a screening of the film itself.
A more sobering anniversary that falls in 2016 is the hundred years since the Battle of the Somme, and the terrible suffering of the aftermath of war is brought home to us in a number of events that range form the Battle of Waterloo to the First and Second world Wars and on to contemporary conflicts in Brian Brivati’s diary from Baghdad and Ben Rawlence’s City of Thorns.
For those who are aspiring writers themselves there is a lot to learn in a variety of creative writing workshops: famous crime writers including M. R. Hall and Sophie Hannah will reveal how they ply their particular trade and for those with a story secretly languishing in a bottom draw, the internationally published author Alison Baverstock will give a workshop on how to get published yourself. Opportunities for learning are, in fact, in abundance, with craft workshops on painting, chocolate making, printing. book making, origami, foraging, and the inside story of cooking is revealed by local celebrity chef Steve Terry.
This brief flavour of upcoming events illustrates the many ways in which the second Crickhowell Literary Festival will continue to bring opportunities for learning and pleasure to the entire community. The increasing number of visitors that the participation of national and internationally renowned speakers brings to the town provides a unique opportunity to showcase what Crickhowell has to offer the wider world throughout the year.
Our thanks go to all the local businesses, community groups and funding bodies for their continuing support.
Emma Corfield-Waters & Anne Rowe
‘Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind’ – James Russell Lowell
Croeso and welcome to the second Crickhowell Literature festival, nine autumn days when this beautiful town under the hills, beside the river, becomes a hive of language, ideas, debate and entertainment. Nine days over which, I hope, many minds will be cross-pollenated with thought and feeling.
2016 has been a divisive year, a year when the lack of conversation between communities and countries has been sorely felt. One of the best counterpoints we have to such division is to come together in dialogue, empathy and enjoyment to celebrate the importance of reading and thinking beyond ourselves.
The writers at the festival this year offer just that opportunity in an array of events that cover a span of ages, times and subjects, from poetry to politics, from Shakespeare to the Somme. I hope you’ll enjoy the ‘bees’ of their books and the ‘quickening pollen’ they bring.
Diolch yn fawr for joining us, and for being part of the celebration.
Owen Sheers, Festival President