Welshness is celebrated during the nine days of Crickhowell Literary 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.
Monday October 3rd
PLAIN JANE: DOES JANE EYRE PERSUADE US THAT LOOKS DON’T MATTER?
To celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Charlotte Brontë, Professor Gail Cunningham will begin her talk on Jane Eyre with Jane’s own description of herself as ‘poor, plain and little’ and ask – how far is Charlotte Bronte’s novel a passionate plea for women to be valued for themselves rather than their looks? Or is it a revenge fantasy of the poor and disadvantaged against the rich and beautiful? A cream tea is included in the ticket price!
PAUL HENRY WITH BRIAN BRIGGS (STORNOWAY) – THE GLASS AISLE
Paul Henry shares extracts from his long poem-in-progress, inspired by a stretch of the Monmouthshire & Brecon canal above Crickhowell. He’ll perform song adaptations of ‘The Glass Aisle’, composed withStornoway singer-songwriter, Brian Briggs. The event will also include, from ‘Boy Running’, poems rooted in the surrounding landscape.
Paul Henry is a leading UK poet. Based in Crickhowell and originally a songwriter, his most recent book, Boy Running, was shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2016.
LUXURY CHOCOLATE MAKING COURSE WITH MASTER CHOCOLATIER JULES JAMES
Nothing goes better with a book than some wonderful chocolate, we’re very lucky to have our own chocolatier right here in Crickhowell!
Join Master Chocolatier Jules James of Black Mountain Gold in their kitchen for one of their popular Chocolate Making & Tasting Workshops, where they share some of the essential skills of making fresh, handmade fine chocolates.
BE INSPIRED BY… CELEBRITY CHEF STEPHEN TERRY
Spend a leisurely hour or so with a glass of prosecco in the company of Stephen Terry, who will talk about his experiences as a celebrity chef, his cooking and most of all his love of food. Stephen learnt his craft at several of London’s top restaurants, including Marco Pierre White’s first restaurant, Harvey’s, and Michel Roux’s Le Gavroche. He worked with Nick Nairn in Scotland before returning to London to open Canteen with Marco Pierre White and actor Michael Caine. Here he earned a Michelin star for the restaurant, at the age of 25. He opened The Hardwick in Abergavenny, which was awarded a Michelin star rating in 2011 and where he now works.
POETRY FOR LIFE AND LIVING WITH DR ANNE ROWE
Stressed, Unstressed, Classic Poems to Ease the Mind by Jonathan Bate and Paula Byrne was published in 2016 as part of an initiative to harness the power of poetry to assuage grief, quell anxiety and ease mental health problems. Many well-known writers and actors such as Melvyn Bragg, Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry are among other respected cultural figures who identify poems that have helped them cope during times of stress and uncertainty.
Anne Rowe will celebrate National Poetry Day by reading a selection of these much-loved poems that testify to the power of poetry to touch the emotions more effectively than perhaps any other art form.
ADELE NOZEDAR : MAKE YOUR OWN BOTANICAL GIN WORKSHOP
Botanical flavoured gins are the must-have addition to your cocktail supply stores ….but they’re pricey! The good news is that it is possible to make your own, bespoke botanical blend of gin which is going to be way more delicious than any of the trendy types you can buy in the shops! To buy copies of Adele’s books The Hedgerow Handbook, The garden Forager and The Sweetie Book, Click HERE
TALKING ANTIQUES WITH JUDITH MILLER
Antique collector or bargain hunter? – join us for an afternoon of insight, tips and valuations as we talk antiques with leading expert Judith Miller. Many of us relish the challenge of the great antique hunt and our taste for bargains has been honed by TV’s Bargain Hunt, Cash In The Attic and best of all, the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. Few of us however have real experience in the field, and none so much as perhaps Judith Miller, the author of more than 100 books on collecting, antiques and design, including Miller’s Antiques Handbook & Price Guide, which remains the essential and trusted guide to the antiques market. Those attending this event are invited to bring along antiques and collectables for Judith to value and detail more about their origins. So make the most of this valuation opportunity and come along to what should be a fascinating event.
Join local military historian Jonathan Morgan as he celebrates the launch of his new book The Welsh Warrior Through The Ages in which he explores the Welsh contribution to the greatest battles of military history. Jonathan will be reading from the book and signing copies.
All images credit: http://cricklitfest.co.uk/