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Wales Arts Review 3.15




Welcome to Wales Arts Review 3.15, an issue packed with reviews and articles looking forward as well as back. We lead with a fascinating look into the little known story of ‘song-hunter’ Alan Lomax, the man largely responsible for bringing the likes of Leadbelly and Son House to the wider world, who in 1953 spent time recording the songs and anecdotes on offer at the Treorchy Miners’ Club. Michael Lydon tells his story in ‘The Texan Song-hunter and the Treorchy Dragons: Alan Lomax and Ethnographic Collecting in Wales’.

3.15 also marks the midway point of our project to find The Greatest Welsh Novel. We publish not only the nominations of two of Wales’ most esteemed literary figures, Francesca Rhydderch and Dai Smith, but we are also giving away a free PDF of Part One of the collection of Greatest Welsh Novel Essays.

We are now deep into festival season, and Wales Arts Review will be celebrating our own extensive festival coverage this year with a stint at Green Man next issue. Looking forward to that we are publishing a series of preview articles, leading with an interview with festival director and owner, Fiona Stewart. We also re-publish our articles covering last year’s festival, when Elin Williams concentrated on the Welsh music representation there, and Gary Raymond brought us his look at how Green Man fits into the modern idea of the music festival in his ‘Traditions of Our Age’ essay. From the other side of the festival fever, Craig Austin brings us a joyously coruscating personal look at the growth of the modern festival, in ‘Apocalypse Now (and then) – My Love/Hate Affair with Festivals’.

The latest instalment in our Fictional Map of Wales sees former Wales Book of the Year Winner Rhian Edwards’ acerbic look at marriage counselling in ‘Beyond the Perforation’. After that Rhian also talks to our Fiction Editor, John Lavin.

Continuing our partnership with the AWWE this issue’s Gregynog Paper is ‘The Recreation of a Nation: the “Classics” and Anglophone Welsh Identity’ by Peter Vokes. Also in longform essays, celebrating the literary inspiration of competitive cycling, we have Jim Morphy’s excellent ‘Low Gear, High Culture: The Many Enigmas of JMG Arcimboldi and the Cyclists of the Tour de France’. And Steph Power laments the death of serious classical music coverage embodied in the ethos of a much-lauded BBC documentary, in her essay ‘”Symphony”: Music Appreciation for Middle England’.

Continuing in music we have two brilliant pieces from Cath Barton this issue with her interview with internationally renowned guitarist Dylan Fowler and his long time musical collaborator Gillian Stephens; and her review of Fire in the North Sky: Epic Tales from Finland (Saatuja Sanoja) at the Wales International Storytelling Festival at St Donat’s Castle.

In books, Rhys Milsom reviews the début novel from Rhian Elizabeth, Six Pounds, Eight Ounces; Emma Schofield reviews Romy Wood’s second novel, the Cardiff-based, Word on the Street; Adrian Masters reviews Alix Nathan’s His Last Fire; and Rajvi Glasbrook Griffiths reviews A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor.

Elin Williams casts an ear over episode one of BBC Radio Wales’ new sitcom, Passing On; and Adam Somerset perused a new and intimate exhibition at Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth, As Far as the Eye Can See.

And, finally, after a very promising response to our call for applications for new board members, Wales Arts Review would like to reiterate that we are still welcoming enquiries, so please visit our page for more details.

Banner illustration by Dean Lewis

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