The Abergavenny Writing Festival

April 2023

Saturday 22nd 2023

Whilst the main festival events are on Friday and Saturday please see the end of the page for an exciting additional event on Sunday 23rd! 

10:00 – Noon. Place and Landscape in Your Fiction – workshop with Katie Munnik & Tyler Keevil.

Tickets are £16.26 (including booking fee) and can be purchased here (link opens in new tab)

A split image of two people To the left - a woman with brown hair, glasses wearing a dark coat. She is leaning against a tree. On the right - a man with very short hair, wearing an open, grey jacket, with a dark t-shirt underneath. The background is a blurred and green. Many writers see plot as paramount, while others claim character is the key. The importance of setting in writing fiction is often overlooked, or viewed as secondary. In this two-hour prose fiction workshop, award-winning Welsh-Canadian authors Katie Munnik and Tyler Keevil will examine the ways place and landscape can enhance our stories.  Through sharing examples from favourite works, and reflecting on their own writing practice, they will encourage participants to consider how they use place in their writing, and offer advice on making it more effective.  The workshop is open to aspiring and emerging writers of all levels and experience – and it only requires a pen and notebook, and some creative enthusiasm!
Katie Munnik is a Canadian writer living in Cardiff, UK. In 2017, she won the Borough Press Open Submission, and her debut novel The Heart Beats in Secret was a USA Today Bestseller. Her second novel The Aerialists was published in April 2022 by HarperCollins.
Tyler Keevil grew up in Vancouver, Canada and moved to Wales in his twenties.  He is the author of several novels and the short story collection, Burrard Inlet.  He has received a number of awards for his work, including the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice and the Writers’ Trust of Canada Journey Prize.  He lives in Abergavenny and is the director of the Creative Writing MA at Cardiff University.  His most recent books are No Good Brother (The Borough Press) and Your Still Beating Heart (Myriad Editions).

10:30-11:15am – Hamed Amiri’s Journey: from Afghanistan to Cardiff, a bestselling book & theatre production

Tickets are £5.42 (including booking fee) and be purchased here (link opens in new tab)

A man with short hair, wearing a bright blue blazer over a dark t-shirt. Holding an open book with a yellow cover. The background is blurred version of the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

Hamed Amiri is the author of the bestselling book and the theatre production of The Boy With Two Hearts. Hamed will share his story of fleeing Afghanistan with his family when he was just ten years old and their perilous journey to seek refuge in the UK in an attempt to prolong his brother Hussein’s life. Why he was driven to write about this and the subsequent adaptation of his bestselling book to theatre production.
Making a promise to his brother has been Hamed’s new mission in life. To share the story with the wider audience and showcase diversity in a truly unique version, while ensuring his late brother’s legacy lives on through the journey and reliving his contribution to the NHS.
Currently working as a senior leader in the tech sector while an influencer in the education sector. Hamed has learned the key ingredients to break down the perception in society and has become a role model to the younger generation, which was recognized when he was awarded “Inspiring the next generation.”

All ticket proceeds for this event will be donated to Supporting the emotional health and wellbeing of patients in Wales

12:15 – 13:15 – Amser Cinio gyda Lowri Haf Cooke

Tickets are £7.59 (including booking fee) and be purchased here (link opens in new tab)

Ymunwch â Lowri am sesiwn fywiog o flasu a sgwrsio am bopeth yn ymwneud â bwyd.  Ar y fwydlen, bydd sôn am wahanol flasau, nostalgia, atgofion, teithio, gramadeg bwyd a chyfle i ofyn  unrhyw gwestiynau fel adolygydd bwyd.
Ar hyn o bryd, mae gan yr awdur o Gaerdydd nofel, a dau lyfr bwyd ar y gweill ac mae hi hefyd  yn gwneud gwaith creadigol gyda gwahanol ysgolion. Hi oedd golygydd cyntaf a sefydlwr y cylchgrawn Taste/Blas. Mae hi hefyd yn ysgrifennu i gylchgrawn Barn, Y Dinesydd a Croeso Cymru/ Visit Wales.
Llyfr diweddaraf Lowri yw Bwytai Cymru (Gwasg Gomer) dathliad o’r 50 bwyty gorau yng Nghymru. Hi hefyd yw awdur Canllaw Bach Caerdydd –  llyfr sydd yn tywys y darllenydd o gwmpas Caerdydd. Ei llyfr arall yw Caffis Cymru adolygiad o gaffis gorau Cymru.
Ar ôl ennill gradd mewn Daearyddiaeth a Chymraeg ym Mhrifysgol Aberystwyth aeth Lowri ymlaen i ennill M.A ym maes Theatr, Ffilm a Theledu.
Mae Lowri hefyd yn wyneb a llais cyfarwydd ar S4C a Radio Cymru yn adolygu ffilmiau. Felly dewch a’ch tips sinema ynghŷd a’ch chwant bwyd i’r sesiwn hwn!

13:30 – 14:30 – Comedy Writing with AberLaugh 

Tickets are £7.59 (including booking fee) and be purchased here (link opens in new tab)

Top banner (left to right) Aber Laugh with a line drawing of a smiley face, 'stand up comedy' in the centre on a yellow background bottom left and right - two men in the middle of a stand up routine bottom middle - the 'Aber Writing Fest' logo

Have you ever wanted to try stand-up comedy but no idea where to start? Join local comedians Huw Davies and Mike Reed for a short workshop/discussion where you can learn more about the South Wales Comedy Scene, how to get started and even have an opportunity to try some of your own material.
Huw Davies has been performing and compering for several years across South Wales and runs a popular monthly stand-up comedy night (Aberlaugh) at the Kings Arms Hotel in Abergavenny.
Mike Reed is a British Comedian of the year semi-finalist and has gigged all over the UK, from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to Hawthorn Community Centre.


15:00 – 17:30 – Finding a Voice – Creative Writing Workshop for Women 

Tickets are £16.26 (Including booking fee) and can be purchased here (link opens in new tab)

A woman with grey hair in a bob, wearing a green t-shirt. There is a white wall and a window in the background.

Liz explains what to expect from the session: “I welcome those with some writing experience and those new to writing. Working with a group, I use a creative process which starts with your individual experience and develops this into writing which resonates with others. The session will include creative exercises to stimulate and develop your writing and shared examples from different published writers to inspire you. This workshop builds on previous sessions, but is equally valuable as a stand-alone session.”

About Liz Pearce
Liz has over 30 years’ professional experience as an actor, writer and facilitator, working in education, the community, theatre, TV and radio. Her work is diverse, due to her drama background, and she writes drama, prose, poetry and poetic monologues. She also facilitates creative writing workshops, encouraging writers to find a unique voice of their own.
For further information please visit

15:30 – 16:30 – Readings from Where the Birds Sing Our Names 

Tickets are free but pre-registration is required – register for tickets here (link opens in new tab)

A book cover - a woman with brown hair, holds a young child in her arm whilst she eats a biscuit. The cover is handdrawn and very blue. The bottom half of the picture reads 'Where t he Birds Sing Our Names. An Anthology for Ty Hafan. Edited by Tony Curtis.

Editor Tony Curtis is joined by contributors Rhian Edwards, Jonathan Edwards and Chris Meredith to read from Where the Birds Sing Our Names, the remarkable anthology of poems about childhood, parenting and birds, published in support of the Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice in Sully which serves the whole of south Wales. All the proceeds of this book go directly to the charity and copies will be on sale at the reading.

Rhian Edwards

Jonathan Edwards Jonathan Edwards | Seren Books

Chris Meredith

Tony Curtis

16:30 – 17:30 – Illustrating text with Adam Hayes

Tickets are £7.59 (including booking fee) and can be purchased here (link opens in new tab)

A man with short hair and a beard, wearing a bright blue t-shirt. There is a book open in his hand and he is writing in it. The background is a plain bluey-grey

Join Adam Hayes for a workshop on developing an image from a short piece of text. As an illustrator, Adam often only receives plain text [from an author or agent] which he then needs to read and work out for himself what the accompanying image should be. The session will be based around; reading the text and working out how best to apply an image to enhance it. Adam will give examples before the group gets started. Participants will be invited to pick a piece of text, perhaps just a sentence or a paragraph – some very simple & some more challenging – all of them plain text and without much context, think about which part of the text you want to illustrate and sketch out as many different ideas as you can on separate sheets of paper. Pick out your favourite ideas and create your final illustration!

Adam Hayes is a typographer and illustrator. He works on a broad range of projects from quick editorial illustrations to large-scale international campaigns. Since his graduation from the Royal College of Art in 2006 he has developed a solid roster of clients that include Apple, Google, Honda, Ikea, Shake Shack and Whole Foods – whilst also devoting time to personal projects.


17:45 – 18:45 – Memoir Writing in an Hour with Jude Rogers

Tickets are £7.59 (including booking fee) and be purchased here (link opens in new tab)

A black and white image of a woman with short hair

Want to turn your life story, or someone else’s, into a compelling narrative? Where – and how – do you start? How do you give shape to your experiences? How do you make the past come alive?
Critically acclaimed memoir writer and journalist Jude Rogers is here to help with a lively hour of tips, lessons learned and short exercises to help you make your writing breathe and sing.
Jude Rogers is the author of the acclaimed memoir about music, memory and growing up, The Sound Of Being Human: How Music Shapes Our Lives, published by White Rabbit Books (“Fascinating” – Ian Rankin; “What a joy” – Ruth Jones). A teacher of memoir writing for the Arvon Writing Foundation, she is also a busy freelance journalist regularly working for The Guardian, The Observer and BBC Radio 4. She lives in Monmouthshire with her husband and son.





19:30 – 22:00 (doors open 19:00) – Writing Fest Finale Night! Comedy, music and words

Tickets are £13.01 (including booking fee) and can be purchased here (link opens in new tab)

4 squares Top Left- 'Aber Writing Fest' in white text on a black background. Top Right - a man wearing glasses with a beard. The background is blurred greenery. Bottom Left - a woman with long brown hair, a guitar pick covers one eye. the background is plain Bottom Right - a man with dark hair and a beard, wearing a blue, long sleeve shirt. The background is plain.Starting with some ‘Wordplay Cabaret’ from Mark Blayney; poetry, songs and stories from Alex Wharton and lo-fi alt-Indie music with Folk and Americana influences from Rona Mac. Join us for an entertaining and inspiring evening with our stellar finale night line-up! Each performance will be punctuated with a break and the opportunity to share the buzz with fellow audience members in the Melville bar.

Mark Blayney
Wordplay Cabaret: Yoga for seagulls! Michael Caine! The world’s first poetry magic trick! A quickfire blast of comedy, poetry, poetry-comedy and comedy-poetry from the award-winning MARK BLAYNEY. Einstein! A vicar who loves Kylie! The poet laureate goes to the zoo! Get your seat early, because otherwise, someone else will sit in it.
‘I laughed – then frowned as I realised none of these poems rhyme’ – JOHN SHUTTLEWORTH
Mark Blayney is a writer and performer based in Cardiff. His work spans comedy, fiction and poetry. Mark writes fiction, poetry, scripts and journalism. His novella Two kinds of silence won the Somerset Maugham Prize, his poetry has been longlisted for the National Poetry Competition and my journalism won a Wales Media Award.

Alex Wharton
Alex Wharton is an award winning writer and performer of poetry for adults and children. His First Book of poetry for children ‘Daydreams and Jellybeans’ was shortlisted for the Wales Book Of The Year Award 2022, The North Somerset Teacher’s Book Awards, The Laugh Out Loud Book Awards and was named as a National Poetry Day recommended read.
He is widely published in the sector and has collaborated with Literature Wales, Cadw, The National Dance Company Of Wales, Welsh Government, British Council of literature, Welsh Libraries and many schools, trusts and festivals including Hay Festival and Edinburgh International book Festival.
In 2021 Alex was commissioned by Hay Festival to create a poem with children that would be read to Her Royal Highness, Queen Consort at a ceremony held in Hay-On-Wye.  Alex’s second collection of poems ‘Red Sky At Night: A Poet’s Delight’ will be published with Firefly Press in 2024.

Rona Mac
Rona Mac is a trailblazer for expression within music. She is a queer Singer-Songwriter bringing us lo-fi alt-Indie with Folk and Americana influences, crafted in her caravan home-studio in west Wales. Her music comes raw and unfiltered, aching with the kind of nostalgia that comes with rural, rugged places. She weaves satisfying guitar-driven riffs with hooky melodies and she shows the ability in her sophisticated lyricism to reach out to people and make them feel. Her strive for depth and grit evokes the singer-songwriter movement of late 90’s as well as contemporaries such as SOAK, Marika Hackman and Holly Humberstone.
Despite music composition and performance being prominent in her life from a very young age, Rona Mac’s project as a solo musician began in 2020 and she has since released a DIY Debut Album ‘Sheelah’ and EP ‘Shades Of Ham’, exhibiting her captivating talent with music production. Her personal highlights of 2022 are plays on primetime BBCRadio1, BBC6Music and Radio Wales, performing at 6music Fest and Boomtown, and getting featured in Clash magazine. Funded by PRS foundation Women Make Music and Help Musicians UK, she will be releasing a new album in 2023, as well as collaborations with artists Dan Bettridge, Minas and Wil Owen.


Events take place at Melville Centre for the Arts, Abergavenny, NP7 5UD. Plan your journey here (link opens in new tab)


Sunday 23rd April ’23

14:00 – 15:00 – A Breath of Fresh Air – walking, looking and walking together for mental wellbeing 

Tickets are £5.42 (including booking fee) and can be purchased here (link opens in new tab) 

A man with short grey hair, wearing a dark jumper with trees in the backgroundAll are welcome to an experience of writing in the beautiful and relaxing environment of Linda Vista Gardens, Abergavenny. We will wander through the gardens, pausing to look around us and writing short poems or passages (perhaps akin to the Japanese haiku) which we will put together to make a gathering of our ‘linked verses’, or renga. No writing experience is necessary, just bring yourself and a notebook. There will be a chance to discuss how our findings on the day may contribute to our on-going writing practice with an emphasis on personal wellbeing.

We will start and finish at Ambika Social Cafe | Ambika Social | Wales located in Linda Vista Gardens.

Graham Hartill teaches on the Master’s degree in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes for the Metanoia Institute. He was a co-founder of Lapidus International, the umbrella organisation for writing and wellbeing, has worked in the fields of mental health, the prison service and ageing and was Lifelines facilitator for the Ledbury Poetry Festival for eight years. He recently retired as a writer-in-residence at HMP Parc after 15 years and was the first writer in residence for Swansea University’s School of Medicine.
He has seven publications in print of collaborative translations from classical Chinese poetry and the latest selection of his own work, ‘Rhapsodies’, was published by Aquifer Books in 2021.

Please meet at Ambika Social, Abergavenny, NP7 5DL, plan your journey here (link opens in new tab)