EDITORIAL Gwen Davies

NWR Issue r19

Beware the Mythic Aura

Today we launch both this e-edition, Review 19 (subscriber-exclusive), and our next writing prize, the New Welsh Writing Awards 2018: Aberystwyth University Prize for an Essay Collection (See Call for Entries video), as well as a Readers’ Poll on Best Essay Collection. To celebrate this form, described in this issue ‘as a genre declared to be dead yet still reinventing itself’, we publish reviews on Brian Dillon’s Essayism (Fitzcarraldo) and M Wynn Thomas’ collected essays from UWP, All That is Wales, the latter exploring how an equal degree of diversity can be found in small as that in larger cultural centres, and how cosmopolitanism has become a misnomer. To inspire potential essayists, and to kick off our poll for the best essay collection published ever anywhere in the English language (including translations), we publish five readers’ recommendations in a one-minute video format, on collections by James Baldwin, Jenny Diski, Annie Dillard, David Sedaris and Neil Perryman. Please do send in your own recommendations and nominations for the Poll, via Twitter on @newwelshreview, via Facebook on New Welsh Review or via email to marketing[at]newwelshreview.com, using #newwelshawards.

Elsewhere in the edition, and developing M Wynn Thomas’ championing of cultural diversity, our pieces celebrate the ‘participating outsider’. In Sarah Reynolds’ column, her sights are on authors publishing in Welsh that learnt Welsh as an adult, including the late lamented Geordie Tony Bianchi, and Mid American Jerry Hunter. Although she touches on the apparent low status of Welsh (as witnessed in the recent ignorant Newsnight edition – see BBC apology) in relation to the London majority viewpoint, Reynolds notes how learning and writing literature in Welsh as an adult can offer escape, reinvention, assertion of political allegiance and ‘a new path home’. In his review of Geraldine Lublin’s academic title on twentieth-century Patagonian memoirists, four of the disproportionate number of writers the region has produced, Chris Moss writes of other self-imposed exiles. ‘Whether you define, as I believe writer Jasmine Donahaye would, Y Wladfa (Patagonia) as being a straightforward colony, or, as Chris Moss describes it with more ambivalence, ‘the colony, or settlement, or whatever exactly Y Wladfa is’, its incomers contributed to a narrative that was ‘routinely romanticised as a story of exile, utopianism and heroism in the face of extreme hardship.’ The review and the book are warnings against giving a place a ‘mythic aura’ and appeal to applying a ‘critical distance when reflecting on the alluring mythologies nurtured in, and exported from, distant lands.’

All this plus reviews of poets writing about sound, the prizewinning Philip Gross who is engrossed by natural sonic phenomena, while debut poet Nia Davies’ acoustic interest lies within the body itself.


       


previous editorial: The Ultimate Existential Form
next editorial: The Long & Short of It



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