Wednesday, 24 September 2008

David Foster Wallace 1962-2008

Belatedly, I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of David Foster Wallace by his own hand on September 12 at the age of just 46. On such occasions, hyberbole – ‘greatest writer of his generation’, ‘truly unique’ and ‘the loss to literature is immeasurable’ – is pretty much par for the course. The difference in DFW’s case is that it’s all true. It’s difficult to think of another fiction writer who so successfully embraced the dizzying plurality and discourses of our times – and did it so well.

DFW was not so well known in the UK as he was in the States. But he was very much the writer’s writer, and some of the most successful younger novelists – Zadie Smith and Jonathan Franzen among them – cite him as both example and influence. It seems to me that his legacy will only continue to grow as fiction writers continue to negotiate an age of relentless acquisition, corporate doublespeak, advertising, focus groups and trash TV.

In addition to his outstanding and frequently downright hilarious body of fiction, DFW was also a celebrated essayist, gifted teacher, mathematician and philosopher, and one-time tennis prodigy.

He will be much missed.

If you want an introduction to the delights of DFW’s fiction, read ‘Mister Squishy’ from his 2004 short story collection, Oblivion. Then read everything else in it. Then read his modern masterpiece Infinite Jest. Enjoy and be awed.

A sensitive and intelligent tribute to DFW can be found here

To read a recent speech given by David Foster Wallace click here

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


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Dylan Thomas Prize - shortlist announced

From left to right: Peter Stead (Welsh academic, historian and broadcaster), Peter Florence (Director of the Hay Festival and Chair of Judges), Caroline Bird, Edward Hogan and Miranda Sawyer (leading columnist for Vogue).

The Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist was announced today in London.
Six writers remain in competition for the prize. They are: London waiter Ross Raisin; 21-year old poet Caroline Bird, from Leeds, who is the youngest writer on the longlist; South African Harvard graduate Ceridwen Dovey; critically acclaimed Vietnamese writer Nam Le; Dinaw Mengestu, a journalist and novelist from Ethiopia; and Derby-born rising literary star Edward Hogan.

I caught up with Edward, who told me that he was delighted to be included in the shortlist for his debut novel, Blackmoor.

'It's wonderful to be on a shortlist with so much young talent. I'm also really looking forward to the opportunity to put something back into the writing community with educational outreach work in Wales'.

He added that he hoped that the shortlist would encourage people to read the books of all the nominees and draw attention to youthful talent.

Edward, 28, began writing seriously seven years ago, winning a literary prize from prestigious London agents David Higham Associates, which enabled him to pursue an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. He is the latest in a long line of success stories from the Creative Writing program in Norwich, which include Trezza Azzopardi and Owen Sheers.

The talents highlighted in this year's Dylan Thomas Prize long- and shortlist seem set to develop increasingly high profiles in the years to come. Look out for them.

The announcement of the winner will take place in Swansea, Dylan's hometown, on November 10. Good luck to all the contenders.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Editors of New Welsh Review and Poetry Wales at the Dylan Thomas Festival 2008

Introducing the Editors - Kathryn Gray and Zoe Skoulding
Sunday 9 November at 7pm

From the brochure:

Two of Wales' longest-running and most important literary journals, Poetry Wales and New Welsh Review, have both recently appointed new, young editors. Both also happen to be very fine poets. Kathryn and Zoe will read from their work and discuss the process of editing magazines, and their plans for the future of these vital publications.

The evening will be chaired by renowned literary critic Professor M.Wynn Thomas of CREW - the Centre for Research into the English Literature and Language of Wales.

Tickets £6-50/4-55/2-60

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Dylan Thomas Prize Shortlist to be announced on September 16

The shortlist for the Dylan Thomas Prize will be announced on September 16 in London. The prize, which is sponsored by the University of Wales, promotes and celebrates youthful talent, offering the winner an unprecedented chance to dedicate themselves to their creative endeavours. The £60,000 purse is, with the exception of the Nobel, the richest of any literary prize in the world. Judges include Andrew Davies, Owen Sheers, Miranda Sawyer and Peter Florence.

This year’s longlist is remarkable for its wide-ranging subject matter, and it’s especially pleasing to see poetry so well represented, with three of the UK’s most talented younger poets scoring a well-deserved place on the longlist: Kei Miller, Caroline Bird and Zoe Brigley.

Susan Fletcher, who won the Whitbread First Novel Award for her impressive debut Eve Green, is included for a highly acclaimed second novel, again set in Wales, Oystercatchers.

A full run-down of longlisted authors and their works can be found by clicking here

New Welsh Review would like to wish all the longlisted nominees the very best of luck for the announcement and, in particular, we will be keeping our fingers crossed for Wales’s strong contenders, Zoe Brigley and Joe Dunthorne. Zoe has been a regular contributor to New Welsh Review in recent years and her debut collection, The Secret, has met with strong critical acclaim. Joe Dunthorne has won plaudits for his witty and engaging analysis of teenage dysfunction in his native Swansea, Submarine, prompting comparisons with Salinger. Both will be reading at the Poetry, Prose and Pinot Grigio event I am hosting in Cardiff as part of Baylit 2008 (see below).

I’ll post on the shortlist announcement next week.

Thursday, 4 September 2008


And talking of youth...Next year, New Welsh Review reaches the grand old age of 21. We'll be celebrating 21 years of Wales's leading literary quarterly both within the pages of the magazine and elsewhere. I'll keep you posted on news and events.

In the meantime, please do contact New Welsh Review with your views on the magazine - past, present and future. I am keen to hear from you.

Baylit 2008 - Poetry, Prose and Pinot Grigio

As part of Baylit 2008: Shock of the New, I'll be hosting an event which celebrates the considerable talents of our best young writers.

Poetry, Prose and Pinot Grigio will feature readings from Zoe Brigley, Meirion Jordan, Louise Walsh, Tom Anderson and Joe Dunthorne - all of whom are making waves on the Welsh literary scene, and beyond.

Join us at 7.30pm on Wednesday 8 October, at Bar One in the Millennium Centre, to discover some of the freshest and most vital voices Wales has to offer. The event is likely to be very popular. Visit the Academi website or email for further details, and to book tickets for this and other events taking place during Baylit 2008.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Getting in

New Welsh Review welcomes high quality contributions of new fiction and poetry from Wales and beyond. NWR particularly welcomes contributions from new writers of flair and originality.

We've recently updated the Contributor's Guidance page. Take a look.

Please remember that email submissions are only accepted with the prior permission of the editor.

New Welsh Review Poetry Prize

New Welsh Review, in association with the Aberystwyth University Department of English and Creative Writing, is delighted to announce a new prize for poetry.

The prize, to be judged by award-winning poet Philip Gross, is open to New Welsh Review subscribers, and to students in the Aberystwyth University Department of English and Creative Writing. The winner will receive £200, with £50 each for two runners-up, at a ceremony in March 2009.

For more details and an entry form visit the New Welsh Review website or contact New Welsh Review by email at or by phone on 01970 628410

For more details of how to subscribe to New Welsh Review click here

Current Issue of New Welsh Review: Digital Cultures

The current issue of New Welsh Review, Digital Cultures, and the last issue edited by Francesca Rhydderch, is out now. It includes Gary Owen on the genesis of his play from YouTube to a London stage, Anthony Brockway on blogging culture, Peter Lord on the life and work of Clifford McLucas and Dannie Abse introducing a newly revised version of his poem 'The Abandoned'. Plus poems from Stephen Knight, Philip Gross, Maura Dooley and Anna Wigley, new fiction from Candy Neubert and Alix Nathan, and reviews of Lynette Roberts, Kathryn Simmonds, Peter Finch, Penny Simpson and Lewis Davies, among others.

First Post

The current issue of New Welsh Review, the last under the editorship of Francesca Rhydderch, includes an excellent feature by well-known Cardiff-based blogger Anthony Brockway on blogging culture. It’s timely, too, since this is the first editor’s blogger post for New Welsh Review.

I’m a big fan of blogging culture. I’ve maintained a blog in the past as a writer. And I read a great many blogs on a daily basis – literary and cultural, and political, too. The very best of blog culture is alert, informed and sophisticated. It’s provocative, immediate, sceptical, influential, infuriating and thoroughly entertaining. Bloggers engage with the big, incorrigibly plural world that’s out there. During my own time as a rather modest blogger, my site tracker revealed, to my initial astonishment, visitors from Bangor (Wales) to Bangkok.

This blog is intended - over time and as content develops - to allow NWR to strengthen interaction and links with its current and future readership. It will be a forum to share news about the magazine and the literary culture of Wales. Equally, it will also provide an opportunity to air and share views, and I will be inviting guest writers to post entries here as the blog progresses, too (watch this space). And it’s a conversation. Readers will have the chance to comment, too, and, hopefully, enjoy some lively – and friendly – debate about Welsh literature and, of course, about New Welsh Review, and its directions. New Welsh Review wants to connect with readers, writers, thinkers, organisations and other literary magazines. We’ll be building on the ‘links’ section - if you are a literary organisation or magazine or excellent literary blogger let us know about your blog or site.

In addition to the editor’s blog, we’ll be on Facebook imminently, and I will post a public profile link when this becomes available. If you’re on Facebook do please join us there for news on launches and upcoming issues of the magazine.

The digital future is now a present. Literary magazines, in particular quarterly magazines such as New Welsh Review, face a pressing need to reach out to the wider world and stay in the current. So here we are.