This is Video of the Week from Wales Arts Review. We’ll be showcasing some of the best art in Wales with a new video shared every week. From music to drama and everything in between, videos will not be limited by medium. Today’s video is a little different, featuring an audio recording of Hanan Issa’s response to Dylan Thomas’s classic Christmas poem, ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’.
This week’s Video of the Week is less video and more audio, but might just be the perfect way to sign off the Christmas and New Year period. In this gentle audio recording, National Poet of Wales, Hanan Issa, offers a contemporary response to the famous Dylan Thomas poem, recalling Christmas as a child in Wales.
‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ by Dylan Thomas became an instant classic when he recorded it on vinyl in 1952. Snow falls gently, anticipation fills the air, and Thomas’ lyrical account of his childhood Christmases in a small Welsh town comes to life with humour and wit. Seventy years on and with the support of Literature Wales, Hay Festival commissioned Wales’ National Poet Hanan Issa to offer her own contemporary response to the famous work to coincide with the Hay Winter Festival.
In Issa’s lyrical response, Christmas and Eid merge together in memories of childhood and family celebrations. Warm and humorous in its evocation of Christmas, Issa’s poem features children making up alternative words to well-known Christmas songs, alongside much starker reminders of the cost of living crisis and the reality of the daily struggles faced by many in Wales this Christmas. As a young child rushes out to play football with his friends, even he is no longer shielded from the “bitter cold crisis” that looms in the “fear and uncertainty [which] taints the air all around him”. In this affectionate, but powerful, response, Issa’s work conjures a scene of Christmas which balances the excitement of the festivities, with the economic challenges faced across Wales this year.
Full-length videos of many of the events from this year’s Hay Festival and Hay Winter Festival, are now available to watch online.
You can take a look back at all our Video of the Week picks from 2022, here.