The Abergavenny Writing Festival

April 2023

Friday 21st 2023

10am – 11:30am. Writers’ Hub for Talks and Informal Advice

Free event no ticket or pre-booking required. 

Top Left - Bald man with glasses 
Top right - woman with dyed purple-red hair.
Bottom Left - Man with grey hair and glasses.
Bottom Right - Woman with blonde hair.

Meet local authors Tim Lebbon, Jessica George, Nigel Jarrett & Julie McGowan.

Tim Lebbon is a multi-award-winning and New York Times best-selling author of over 40 books in the horror, fantasy, dystopian genre. He has also written numerous short stories and novellas.
Two of his books have been made into films.
Cardiff writer Jessica George (writes as JL George) describes her work as ‘speculative fiction. My work is often queer, sometimes dark, and occasionally hopeful.’ Her novel ‘The Word’ was the 2019 winner of the ‘New Welsh Writing Award.’
Nigel Jarrett has worked as a journalist and music critic and has now found acclaim for his fiction and poetry writing. He won the Rhys Davies award for short fiction, and the 2016 inaugural Templar Shorts Award.
Julie McGowan writes novels, commercial short stories, features, plays, pantomimes, sketches and songs. Her first novel was a best-seller in Wales and another topped the Amazon Historical Romance list.

Event takes place at Abergavenny Library Community Room – Abergavenny Library, Town Hall, Cross Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5HD. Plan your journey here (link opens in new tab)



10:30am – 12 noon. The Singing Page – a poetry workshop with Paul Henry.

Tickets are £10.84 (including booking fee) and can be purchased here (link opens in new tab)

A (modern) black and white photograph of a man with short dark hair, wearing a shirt. This workshop welcomes new and experienced poets keen to explore the abiding influence of music on poetry. Whether you’re a poet seeking to refine the lyricism of your ‘voice’, or a songwriter keen to extend the range of your lyrics, here’s an opportunity to try out and discuss new approaches within a friendly, supportive atmosphere.
We’ll ask what poetry can learn from the song lyric, and vice versa; reminding ourselves how the “sullen art” is rooted in song, from the dancing roots of metrical forms to the personal jazz of free verse.
Reflecting on the musical qualities of some well-known poems, the workshop will end with a guided writing exercise. You’ll leave with the first draft of a poem which reveals – through subject, rhythm or form – the intrinsic presence of music in poetry.

Paul Henry is one of the UK’s leading poets. The author of nine poetry collections, he’s also a songwriter. Paul has tutored for many years at writing centres and within the community. A former Creative Writing lecturer at the University of South Wales, he’s guest-edited Poetry Wales and presented arts programmes for BBC Radio Wales, Radio 3 and Radio 4. Paul has performed his poems and songs at festivals in Europe, the USA and in India. His latest collection is As If To Sing.


12:15-13:15. How to Make A Living As A Writer, with The Society of Authors 

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

To the Left - A dark blue capital A, with a light blue capital S over it. To the Right - the words 'The Society of Authors' in a dark blue font.

In this session Senior Contracts Advisor Theo Jones from writers’ union the Society of Authors will offer some practical tips and pointers for authors looking to sustain a career as a writer. From the nuts and bolts of copyright through to routes to publication and negotiation tactics and funding, he will aim to cover the most important instruments in an author’s toolbox explaining what they are and how they can be used. There will also be time for questions although for fact-specific queries members are encouraged to contact the SOA for bespoke guidance.

Note – This session is open to all, you do not need to be a member of The Society of Authors to attend.



13:30 – 14:30. How Welsh Writers Can Help Redefine Our Nation – a talk and discussion with Gary Raymond. 

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

A man with glasses and a beard, with short dark hair, posed in front of a bookcase.

In July 2022, Gary Raymond wrote the first article to be published jointly in both Wales Arts Review and the Western Mail. It was titled “The Golden Age is Now: How Welsh Writers Can Help Redefine Our Nation”. In it, Raymond argued that “brilliant books written by inquisitive minds… form the beating heart of any confident nation” and that Wales was on the cusp of a period of “imperative vitality in the way it thinks, and writes, about itself and the wider world”. A year later, he talks about whether his perspective has changed, the impact of that article, and what he has learned about Welsh writing ahead of the publication on his history of Welsh literature in 2024.

Gary Raymond is a novelist, playwright, critic, editor, and broadcaster. He is presenter of The Review Show for BBC Radio Wales and is executive editor of Wales Arts Review. He is a regular writer on film, music, literature, and theatre, and can often be heard on BBC Radio 3 and 4 as an arts commentator and reviewer. His novels include For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015), The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018), and Angels of Cairo (Parthian, 2021). He is also author of the fiction newsletter JellyBread which is published via Substack. In 2020, he published the non-fiction book, How Love Actually Ruined Christmas (Parthian). He is also writer and presenter of BBC radio documentaries How Tom Jones Conquered America (2020) and How Great was How Green was My Valley (2021). His first play in twenty years, A Beautiful Rhythm of Life and Death, about the life of Welsh writer Dorothy Edwards, will be produced by Company of Sirens in May of 2023, and his next book, a history of Welsh literature, will be published by Calon books in 2024.

14:45- 16:15. Helen Docherty on Writing Picture Books for Children  

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

A smiling woman with long dark hair. Wearing a dark blue turtleneck on a teal background.

Helen Docherty is an internationally published author of rhyming picture books, based in Swansea. Her stories have been translated into 27 languages, adapted for the stage and set to music. The Snatchabook and The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight, both illustrated by Thomas Docherty, have won book awards voted for by school children and been shortlisted for various national book awards. Helen enjoys helping children and adults to write their own stories, and regularly visits schools and delivers workshops. She is on the steering committee of the Society of Authors Wales.

This will be an informal, interactive session with a focus on how to conceive and develop a picture book text which appeals to publishers today.

We will discuss:
•              What makes a great picture book
•              What publishers are looking for
•              Creating a memorable character and narrative

There will be Industry tips and time for questions at the end.

15:00 – 16:00 – ‘Local is Global’: Book Launch and Reading

Free event no ticket or pre-booking required. 

A photo of two men On the left - a man with dark hair, glasses and a grey beard is wearing a blue shirt and reading from a book. On the right a man with grey hair wearing a dark blazer and grey shirt against a white background.

Poets Charles Wilkinson and Lyndon Davies launch their dynamic new collections, respectively, Horn & Glass and Mount-Saint-Jean.
Charles Wilkinson has four collections of poetry, The Snowman and Other Poems (Iron Press), Ag & Au (Flarestack Poets) – contributed to Flarestack winning the Michael Marks Award for poetry publishing – and The Glazier’s Choice (Eyewear) was shortlisted for The Beverly Prize.
Lyndon Davies has four collections of poetry, Hyphasis (Parthian Press 2006), Shield (Parthian Press 2010), A Colomber in the House of Poesy (Aquifer 2014), and Bridge 116 (Aquifer 2017). He edits an online magazine of art and literature, Junction Box.

Event takes place at Abergavenny Library Community Room – Abergavenny Library, Town Hall, Cross Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5HD. Plan your journey here (link opens in new tab)


16:30 – 17:30 Are our Writing Days Numbered? Writing and Artificial Intelligence

Tickets are £3.25 (including booking fee) and can be purchased here (link opens in new tab)

In this discussion Hannah Hill invites the audience to consider the influence of AI chatbots on all aspects of writing and poses the question: can artificially generated ‘writing’ co-exist with the human creative process or are our writing days numbered?

Hannah is the Director of Focus Magazines, a freelance copywriter and admin of the increasingly popular Abergavenny Voice Facebook Page. She holds a degree in Creative Writing and Psychology.

Hybrid Event 19:00- 21:30 (doors open at 18:45). Open-Mic at the Melville with Dominic Williams 

Tickets for in person or online are £5.42 (including booking fee) and can be booked here (link opens in new tab)

A bald man wearing a brightly patterned long sleeve shirt and dark waistcoat standing in front of a microphone. The background is colourful posters. To celebrate the inclusivity and diversity in the world of writing in Wales the Abergavenny Writing Festival kicks off social proceedings with an accessible spoken-word open-mic event at the Melville Centre for the Arts on Friday night. The physical venue is the café-bar an accessible space at the Melville Centre. The event will be hybrid so both audience and participants are able to join either in person or via a zoom link.  There will be closed captioning and BSL interpretation for the performance.

This event is delivered with the support of write4word through its ‘Press Speak Not Delete’ project, creating a hybrid of physical performance and digital channels to develop a more diverse and accessible arts sector.
The open-mic programme is limited to 8 participants in the physical venue and 8 participants on-line. Performance slots are 4 minutes in length.

General entry £5, entry for participants is also £5 but includes an additional complimentary ticket for a friend or family member. Please contact to book a slot.

Event takes place at Melville Centre for the Arts, Abergavenny, NP7 5UD here (link opens in new tab)




Unless otherwise stated events take place at The King’s Arms, Abergavenny, NP7 5AA. Plan your journey here (link opens in new tab)