New Welsh Review, in association with Aberystwyth University and AmeriCymru, announced the winners of the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir, and AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella, at a ceremony at the Hay Festival on Thursday 1 June.
Catherine Haines, a dual English-Australian citizen, won the Memoir Prize, for her account of a young woman’s experience of anorexia while at Oxford University, entitled ‘My Oxford’. Cath Barton, from the English Midlands and now living in Abergavenny, south Wales, won the Novella Prize for her story ‘The Plankton Collector’, a gentle pastiche of an idyllic world populated by archetypes who will help us heal and learn.
NWR Editor Gwen Davies said ‘In our two winning entries in the novella and memoir categories, chosen from nearly all-woman shortlists (putting our political parties to shame), healing, trauma and the fluidity of memory and experience predominate as themes.
‘On our memoir shortlist were true accounts of bad luck, eating and Cold War paranoia, all taken to extremes. From it triumphed a rigorous, philosophical case for regarding eating disorder as pilgrimage. Our four-minute animation of ‘My Oxford’, made by Aberystwyth University graduate Emily Roberts, uses typography to show the to-and-fro of academic discourse and the skull of Yorrick from Hamlet to illustrate Catherine’s experience of how anorexia started turning her into ‘a floating head… devoid of emotion.’
‘On our novella shortlist were dark stories of sexual abuse, grooming and escaping domineering fathers. From it triumphed a beautifully controlled mix of magical realism and nature writing about time, healing, trauma and the fluid, unreliable nature of memory. Our four-minute animation of ‘The Plankton Collector’, made by Aberystwyth University graduate Emily Roberts, deploys 1960s-style children’s book illustration to depict a lost natural golden world of childhood and the healing Everyman that Cath’s mysterious Plankton Collector represents.