Literary Cardiff, by Katie Brown

June 7, 2012 No Comments »

In the third of her ‘farewell posts’, Cardiff culture blogger Katie Brown talks about literary events in the city.

While my last two posts have been very performance arts orientated, my first love is literature.

Luckily, Cardiff provides just as much for bookworms as theatre lovers.

One of the first events I attended when I started at Cardiff University was the Creative Minds festival, which kicked off with a full weekend at the end of October and continued until the end of the year.

Organised by the University, it brought together a wide range of writers and literary specialists and was free for anyone to attend.

My favourite event was Richard Gywn and Ned Thomas in conversation. Both had recently published memoirs of very different sorts.

Thomas’s Welsh-language Bydoedd explored his fascinating life which runs from meeting the Pope as a child, through dealings with the KGB to being accused of espionage in Wales.

Gywn’s The Vagabond’s Breakfast (recently shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year), on the other hand, recounts a very different journey through Europe, one of alcohol abuse and drug addiction.

It was fascinating to get an insight into the lives and working methods of these authors, as well as all the other writers involved. Creative Minds was such a success that I really hope the University brings it back next year.

Beyond Creative Minds, academics at the University are always very happy to share their expertise with the wider public.

This year I have attended talks about such a wide variety of topics, from the similarities between Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas to translating the greatest work of Galician literature.

A particular highlight has been the dedication of the School of European Language, Translation and Politics to bringing in poets from around the world.

In late May, for example, they brought East German poets Uwe Kolbe and Richard Pietrab to Cardiff for a two day event, which included a workshop with Welsh poets.

Throughout the academic year, there is always a packed programme of free events on at the University, listed here.

Beyond the University, another way to meet upcoming poets and writers is at the First Thursday event hosted by Seren Books and Literature Wales at Chapter.

As the name suggests, on the First Thursday of every month Welsh writers introduce and read from their latest works.

The next event is tonight featuring former Chief Executive of Literature Wales Peter Finch and Horatio Clare talking about his latest work The Prince’s Pen.

While you’re at Chapter, check out the Book Crossing zone.

Book Crossing is a simple yet brilliant idea. Visit the Book Crossing website, register your book then set it free and as people find it you can track its travels.

Claire Vaughan from Chapter discovered Book Crossing while in America and loved the idea so much that she set up a dedicated area in Chapter, with a loaded bookshelf and comfy chairs.

You can take whatever books you want, register them on the Book Crossing site, then bring your unwanted books to replace them. I’ve found some great books that way!

Another way to find great books is through the many book clubs in the city. One big regret I have is that I haven’t yet managed to go to a Cardiff Read meeting yet.

They are held every month at Chapter, but something has always come up. There’s still time though and I’m determined to go before I leave Cardiff!

I’ve been following their excellent book choices though, from The Great Gatsby to Bonfire of the Vanities. The next meeting is Tuesday June 12th at 8pm with Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus.

Katie has written for yourCardiff about literary events happening in our city, but what are your favourite books about Cardiff? Let us know in the comments below.



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