Many of you will know that I reside in Wales, and have done so for well over a dozen years — fourteen in fact. My association with this small country goes back a lot further than that, however. In fact, some more of you will know that I was involved with an archaeological excavation on a Welsh Dark Age site for nigh on three decades, from initial investigation to final report; and that I’ve been researching what is arguably Wales’ premier figure of legend, King Arthur, for more than half a century, along with some of the associated literature and folklore.
Although not born and bred Welsh, then, I feel a great affinity with this part of the world. So I was quite excited to find that fellow blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley from North Wales was planning, under the hashtag #dewithon19, a Wales Readathon for March 2019. As she explains, “The people of Wales celebrate St David’s Day annually on 1st March – the date of our patron saint’s death in 589 CE. In honour of this traditional anniversary, and also in recognition of the time of year when daffodils (the national flower of Wales) explode into bloom, we will hold the very first Dewithon – Dewi being the diminutive form of the Welsh name Dafydd (David).”
What does this Readathon involve?
Throughout March 2019 the international book blogging community will be invited to write about the literature of Wales. This will include reviews and articles about novels, non-fiction publications, short story anthologies, biographical works (by or about Welsh writers), travelogues, volumes of poetry (or single poems), essay collections, or indeed any texts with a meaningful connection to Wales.
As you can imagine this sounded right up my street so I shall definitely be joining in. In a way I’ve already started this a year early with a review of Diana Wynne Jones’ A Sudden Wild Magic, a fantasy with plenty of Welsh and Arthurian themes, by an author with Welsh ancestry. Since I’m a book blogger, in 2019 I’ll be focusing on reviews, features or essays about Welsh texts, but those with wider interests could go for “anything else with a connection to the literature of Wales” such as interviews, plays, films, radio programmes or literary events, for example.
Paula’s link page — the Dewithon HQ at https://bookjotter.com/2018/03/26/dhq-dewithon19/ — provides dos and don’ts and further suggestions and links. (And, by the way, https://BookJotter.com is a blog I can heartily recommend: the name says it all, doesn’t it?) I’m already planning what I might include, and as her suggestions cast the net very widely potential participants are in fact really spoilt for choice.
Incidentally, Wales is well catered for where literary festivals are concerned.
Here are three, for starters:
1. Hay Festival is in the top rank of international literature festivals, set in Hay-on-Wye (“the Town of Books”) on the Welsh side of the border with England: 24th May to 3rd June 2018. https://www.hayfestival.com/
2. Llandeilo Litfest is a more low-key affair in Carmarthenshire, a four day programme of literary events running from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th April, decidedly bilingual and with a focus on Welsh authors. https://llandeilolitfest.org/
3. Crickhowell Literary Festival‘s 2018 programme is not yet finalised, but it takes place in the first week of October each year. Though many Welsh authors are featured the range of speakers and events offered is never parochial. http://cricklitfest.co.uk/about/