The Abergavenny Writing Festival

April 2019


Friday 20th April 2018 Line-Up

9.30 – 11am Cath Barton, Rhiannon Hooson & Nigel Jarrett in conversation with David Holman- £7


Three leading local writers – Cath Barton, Rhiannon Hooson and Nigel Jarrett – in conversation with David Holman sharing their work and writing experiences. Find out what motivates and inspires them and what part getting published and winning awards can play.


Cath Barton is an English writer who lives in Abergavenny. She won the New Welsh Writing Awards AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella 2017 and 2nd place in the Dorset Fiction Award, October 2017. Her novella The Plankton Collector will be published by New Welsh Review in September 2018. She has had stories published in The Lonely Crowd, Fictive Dream, Spelk and more, and is a regular contributor to Wales Arts Review. Cath has been awarded a place on the 2018 Literature Wales Mentoring Scheme and is currently working on a collection of short stories inspired by the paintings and drawings of Hieronymus Bosch.

Dr Rhiannon Hooson is an award-winning Welsh poet. She has performed her work at literature festivals and venues across Europe and the UK, including London, Milan and the Hay festival, and been featured in the Guardian, Magma, and Poetry Wales among others. She has won major accolades for her work, including an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. Her first collection, The Other City, was shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year, and was described by the judges as “Stunning… at a pitch of achievement many of us will not reach across a career.”

Nigel Jarrett is a former daily-newspaperman and a regular contributor to the Wales Arts Review and other publications, including Jazz Journal and Acumen poetry magazine. He is a poet, novelist, and story writer. His first collection of stories, Funderland, was warmly reviewed in the Independent, the Guardian, and the Times, and long-listed for the Edge Hill prize. His latest collection, Who Killed Emil Kreisler? was published in 2016. He is a winner of the Rhys Davies prize for short fiction and, in 2016, the inaugural Templar Shorts award. Next year sees the publication of his short fiction pamphlet, A Gloucester Trilogy.


11.15am – 12.45pm Abandoning Reality: Writing through dream with Matthew Plumb £7


“Many poems have a feel of dream. They are transformative, instantly, and have a slowness and motive to recur. Does the dream anticipate the poem or does the poem perceive the dream?” asks Matthew Plumb. Matthew is alocal poet and woodsman, who will lead this poetry workshop guided by close readings of one poem by Ted Hughes, and one by Alice Oswald.

Participants are invited to bring along inspiration by adored authors that have a dream element, or turn up unprepared. The session is tailored to be loose and fun, trusting and sharing. Some dreaming. Some writing . . .




1.00 – 2.00pm Cerddi Cymysg/The Dragon has Two Tongues  £7


This bilingual session will explore writing poetry in two languages, the problems and opportunities of translation and the new images and ideas that can grow from the intertwining of two languages. The session will also explore the art and craft of cynghaneddand the strict Welsh meters and their influence on English poets like Gerald Manley Hopkins.

Frank Olding writes in Welsh and is a widely published poet and literary critic. He was a close runner-up in the competition for the crown at the National Eisteddfod in Bala in 2009 and was the poet in residence at the Lle Celf art exhibition at the Ebbw Vale National Eisteddfod in 2010. His first full collection Mynydd Du (“Black Mountain”) was published in 2012. For six years, he was Welsh-language editor of Poetry Wales and has edited and published anthologies of new Welsh-language poetry and collections of translations. As poetry editor of the Collective Press, he helped to run a small press dedicated to publishing poetry by young and/or promising Welsh poets writing in English. Frank was the chairman of the 2016 National Eisteddfod at Abergavenny and is a member of the Gorsedd of Bards. He regularly translates his poetry into English.

2.15 – 3.45pm Poetry by the River with clare e potter £7 


Starting and finishing at the Kings Arms Hotel in Abergavenny spend an hour and a half along the river on a guided poetry walk. We will meander, pause at various locations to hear poetry about rivers, poetry inspired by water, by being on the move. We will also walk how the poet walks, eyes on stalks, ears alert. Clare will offer prompts for those who wish to write something after our stroll. But this experience is not intended solely for the established or emerging writer, but for the person who enjoys being outdoors and would relish hearing some poems on the riverbank with no pressure to produce anything. The walk is all, and the poems held in that space.

Something else is going on with the river more vital than death -Ted Hughes ‘Salmon Eggs’

Clare e. potter was Landmark Trust’s poet-in-residence at Llwyn Celyn medieval house and recently Moravian Academy Pennsylvania. She is one of the Hay Festival’s Writers at Work and has translated poems for National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn. She collaborates in community projects and is published widely in UK and USA, Faber & Faber, Seren, Mslexia. Recipient of the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry and the Jim Criddle award for celebrating the Welsh language in Literature. Clare’s second poetry collection is on the way thanks to a Literature Wales bursary, and 2019 Velvet Coalmine Festival’s Poet-in-residence.

4.00 – 5.30pm Write Me a River Workshop with Robert Walton & Elizabeth Park £7 


This workshop will explore the immense possibilities of rivers for our writing. We will look at some examples of how other writers have written their rivers. We will reflect on the importance of rivers in our lives, physically, emotionally and symbolically, and explore the language and structures that will enable us to write our own river. Although the stimulus material will mostly be poetry, the workshop could also be helpful for anyone who wants to write a river in fiction or memoir.

Robert Walton’s poetry has appeared widely in magazines, he has published a pamphlet, Waiting for the Wave and his poetry collection, Sax Burglar Blues, is published by Seren Books. He is a founding member of the Bristol-based poetry performance group, The Spoke, who have appeared at festivals and events all over the South West. He has a PhD from Cardiff University where he also teaches Creative Writing to undergraduates.

Elizabeth Parker lives on Bristol harbour and is a member of poetry group The Spoke. She has been Highly Commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition and was a prizewinner in the 2016 Troubadour Poetry Competition. She has been published in Magma, The Stony Thursday Book, Raceme, Southword, The Interpreter’s House and Eyewear Publishing’s latest anthology TheBest New British and Irish Poets 2016. Her first full collection will be published by Seren in April 2018.

Special Offer!

2.15 – 5.30pm Poetry by the River Walk and Writing Workshop with potter, Parker and Walton 

Attend clare e. potter’s poetry by the river walk (2.15-3.45pm) and Robert Walton and Elizabeth Parker’s write me a river workshop (4.00-5.30pm) for the special offer price of £10!





5.45 – 7.00pm Adventures in Fiction Writing with Tyler Keevil £13.50


Gangsters, Outlaws, and Cowgirls: Adventures in Fiction Writing

This dynamic seminar is for aspiring writers of all levels looking to improve their craft and have some fun while doing so. Through down-to-earth analysis, lively discussion, and engaging exercises, award-winning novelist and Creative Writing lecturer Tyler Keevil will teach participants about various aspects of the creative process, and demonstrate practical writing techniques that apply to a wide range of fiction forms and genres. The seminar fee includes a free copy of his new book, the literary adventure novel No Good Brother, published in hardcover by HarperCollins in February.


Abergavenny Writing Festival tickets are now available to buy from the Borough Theatre, Abergavenny box office. Open Tuesdays through to Saturdays 9.30am-3pm buy in person or by phone 01873 850 805. For more information visit: Abergavenny Borough Theatre