After a fallow year the Dinefwr Festival of Literature returns in 2014, boasting a vibrant line-up that includes everyone from Gruff Rhys, Cate le Bon, Charlotte Church and Cynan Jones, to Jon Gower, Viv Albertine and Jeremy Hardy. Wales Arts Review is delighted to announce that we will also be at the festival, bringing our on-going short story project A Fictional Map of Wales to Dinefwr 2014.
Three of Wales’ most exciting contemporary writers, Rachel Trezise (winner of the 2006 Dylan Thomas Prize), Rhian Edwards (winner of 2013 Wales Book of the Year) and Tyler Keevil (shortlisted for the 2011 Not the Booker Prize), will each read their specially commissioned (in association with the Rhys Davies Trust) Fictional Map short stories at the festival. These are fictions that are marked in equal measure both by their humour and by their seriousness; but above all they are works that are marked by their qualities of insight and perception; offering an ever-shifting impression of what it is truly like to live in 21st century Wales. The readings will take place in unique and beautiful locations in and around Dinefwr’s Newton House and will give festival-goers the opportunity to hear some of our best loved writers read these often startling pieces of fiction up close and in their entirety.
To celebrate this exciting news, Wales Arts Review caught up with Rachel Trezise to find out her thoughts on her Fictional Map short story, ‘The Abergorki Long Veg. Growing Society’, Dinefwr 2014 and what the rest of the year holds in store for her. See next fortnight’s issue for a full preview of Dinefwr 2014 (including interviews with our other Fictional Map readers, Rhian Edwards and Tyler Keevil).
Wales Arts Review: Hello, Rachel. You’re going to be reading ‘The Abergorki Long Veg. Growing Society’ for us at Dinefwr 2014. Do you think that you could tell us a little bit about what to expect from the story?
Rachel Trezise: When Wales Art Review asked me to write a map story the obvious place to set it was in my hometown of Treorchy but I named this particular Treorchy after its colliery; ‘Abergorki’ opened in 1859, meaning the story assumes that Treorchy only came into being at the industrial age. The reason for that is that I wanted to focus quite heavily on what it means to be a man in a post-industrial landscape where male voices, quite literally in the case of Treorchy Male Voice choir, have been dominant, but which is now suffering from mass unemployment and huge shifts in attitude and culture. The protagonist in the story, Sel, has been made redundant from his position at the local seatbelt factory and we’re invited to see the impact this unfamiliar situation has on his self-assurance and behaviour – a kind of tragic comedy of errors.
You’ve been busy lately with the publication of your new short story collection, Cosmic Latte, as well as the production of your first play, Tonypandemonium (which won the People’s Prize at the Theatre Critics of Wales Awards). What’s next in the pipeline? Is there another book on the way?
The Tonypandemonium script is about to be published by Parthian and also later by Methuen in an anthology of six contemporary Welsh plays. I’m working on a novel and a third short story collection, and a new play, all of which is being sent towards the back-burner because of the various and brilliant opportunities I’ve been offered this year. Through June I’ll be busy judging a brand new category of the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition, for writers under the age of 21, as well as teaching a master-class in the short story at the Cork International Short Story Festival in September. In August I’ll be at The Melbourne Writer’s Festival with writer John Williams and musicians Richard James and Gareth Bonello to celebrate the Dylan Thomas centenary with a one off music/literature event and collaboration with as yet unnamed Australian writers based on a Dylan Thomas poem.
Dinefwr’s got a great line-up this year. Are you going to get a chance to catch any of the other acts yourself? And if so, are there any that you’re particularly looking forward to seeing?
Obviously I’m looking forward to seeing Tyler Keevil, Carly Holmes, Dan Tyte and Rhian Edwards, my fellow collaborators in Rarebit: New Welsh Fiction. I’ll try to catch the wonderful Helen Dunmore, author of one of the first books I ever read. And of course Charlotte Church because she rocks.
You can check out the full festival programme here: http://dinefwrliteraturefestival.co.uk
Banner illustration by Dean Lewis