Monday, 27 February 2012

Rhys Davies Short Story Competition and University of Glamorgan Author Interview Films

Last week the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay played host to the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition ceremony. The night was kick-started by a preview screening of a recently rediscovered set of recorded interviews from 1991–1993 of Welsh fiction writers. The nine films comprise a Who’s Who of Wales’ authors writing fiction in English towards the end of the twentieth century. The interviews were produced by Professor Tony Curtis and shot at the Trefforest campus for a series from what was then the Polytechnic of Wales. These films will soon be available at

They comprise: Dannie Abse reading from his autobiographical book There was a Young Man from Cardiff and his poem ‘Miss Crouch’; Ron Berry reading his story ‘A November Kill’; Emyr Humphreys with a section from A Toy Epic; Siân James reading from her award-winning novel Yesterday; Glyn Jones (‘It’s not by his beak you can judge a woodcock’); Elaine Morgan with an extract from The Aquatic Ape; Leslie Norris (‘A Flight of Geese’); Alun Richards (‘The Sabbatical’) and Bernice Rubens reading the first chapter of her just-published novel, A Solitary Grief.

Our poets have not done too badly in terms of contemporary recordings, from the BBC radio broadcasts of Dylan Thomas’ Forties heyday to the late Sixties cultural film documentaries produced by John Ormond (who is the subject of Kieron Smith’s piece in the new edition of New Welsh Review, ‘John Ormond: Poetry, Broadcasting, Film’). But nearly twenty-two years ago it struck Prof Curtis that while there were audio recordings of poets, ‘No one was filming fiction writers then. The opportunity to include older writers would not last much longer. Many of these writers are no longer with us so this is a unique record of their character and voice.’ Prof Curtis adds, ‘I recorded the new introductions last year in the same studio (now less used since the University of Glamorgan Atrium opened in Cardiff) and kept it deliberately low-key. No gimmicks or makeup, no media frills, just words. But what words! Leslie Norris’ reading of ‘A Flight of Geese’ still makes my cry. He had done a very memorable reading of the story to undergraduates that afternoon. There was little money in this for the writers who, without exception, were generous with their time - from Bernice Rubens who had won the Booker Prize to Ron Barry, who was ageing into neglect, apart from the efforts of Dai Smith and a couple of others.’

Contemporary writers are just as generous, as New Welsh Review’s latest online interviews, with essayist Robert Minhinnick, novelist Chris Meredith and poet Jane Yeh prove. Spring issue with exclusives from all three out now.

The Rhys Davies Short Story Competition 2012 was won by Kate Hamer for 'One Summer'. The equal runners-up were Bill Davies; Stevie Davies; Nigel Jarrett; Huw Lawrence; Rob Mimpriss; Derek Routledge; Ann Ruffell; Linda Ruheman, and Jo Verity. All nominees receive £100 and the winner, £1000. The competition was judged by Trezza Azzopardi, Russell Celyn Jones and filter judge Siân Preece.

This is a version of Gwen Davies' Western Mail Insider column published on Saturday 25 February 2012.

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