Shortlist Announced

People, Place & Planet: WWF Cymru Prize for Writing on Nature and the Environment #newwelshawards

New Welsh Review, in association with WWF Cymru and the CADCentre, is thrilled to announce the shortlist for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2015. Judges Gwen Davies, editor of New Welsh Review and the eminent author and environmental activist Mark Cocker chose three shortlisted authors from the longlisted nine entries. Gwen Davies announced the winners at the Hearth Festival at Gladstone's Library in Flintshire, North Wales and all shortlisted and highly commended works will feature as extracts in the summer edition of the New Welsh Reader 108, summer 2015. 

Co-judge Mark Cocker says, "Elaine Ewart has had a long hard look at the physical and imaginative ecology of a famous German island - Heligoland - and produced a meticulously researched essay full of literary promise. Eluned Gramich has written the perfect essay - a minutely detailed yet nuanced evocation of place and personalities that is full of ecologically precise imagery and is as attentive to the Japanese language as it is to Hokkaidan landscape. Meanwhile Philip Jones’ piece is hugely original; it’s an engaging blend of the technical and the reflective and of the private and the cosmic. The author has made us ponder the deep connections between all parts of nature.”

We are proud to present more details on the three shortlisted authors as as well as three highly-commended authors:

SHORTLIST

HELIGOLAND, AN ECOLOGY OF EXILE, ELAINE EWART

This work’s subject is an island passed between Germany, Britain and Denmark, bombed after the war for its cache of Nazi armaments, erstwhile stronghold of the European lobster and birthplace of a globally successful trap for ringing migrating birds. This travelogue-cum-nature journal is precise, cultured and polished. The fruit of careful historical research, it has literary depth, with references to Sebald and RL Stephenson, is finely structured and tackles important environmental attitudes. Most of all, it offers an uplifting symbolism of a landscape and community’s recovery following willful destruction. 

Elaine Ewart writes poetry and creative non-fiction with a particular interest in our relationship with the environment. She was born in Lincoln and now lives in Ely. Elaine was appointed Fenland Poet Laureate for 2012, and continues to run poetry events in her local area. Her poetry has been published in various small press journals and in 2014 she self-published her first poetry pamphlet collection, Fur, Feather and Fen. Elaine has an MA in Wild Writing: Literature & the Environment at the University of Essex and blogs at www.flightfeather.wordpress.com

SCENES FROM A HOKKAIDAN LIFE, ELUNED GRAMICH

As precise and nuanced as Japanese calligraphy, this memoir of the author's stay on the remote Hokkaido island in the far north of Japan, has at its heart the mountain, Yotei-San, the region's iconic equivalent to Mount Fuji. As much about learning a language (with connotations of ‘reading’ a wild landscape) as it is about nature, this dignified and nuanced work evokes what is cultured and cultivated, and yet also honours the wild; the untranslatable. With its themes of seasonal transformation, the peripheral, folklore, loneliness and learning to belong, this work takes a personal philosophical stance in relation to the centre and the periphery.

Eluned Gramich was born in Haverfordwest. Eluned studied English at Oxford and Creative Writing at UEA, before moving to live and work in Japan on a Daiwa scholarship. She has recently translated a collection of German short stories into English, and is currently working on her first novel.

WAVES ON THE HYDROCARBON SEAS OF TITAN, PHILIP JONES

Set on Newgale Beach, Pembrokeshire, this moving account of surfing, grief and waves of all types, from light and sound to the seas of distant planets, is a memoir where sport, landscape, climate and science meet. This work takes three neglected subjects: the Welsh landscape, the science of waves and the sport of surfing. It uses a controlled voice in relation to its personal story of mourning, and a clever tripartite structure to fully exploit the long essay form promoted by this prize.

Philip Jones was born in Birmingham and came of age in Pembrokeshire. He now lives and works in Cardiff after earning his Creative Writing MA at Cardiff University. His stories and poetry have appeared in collections by Stories From Songs and Appletree Writers’ Press. Also a keen musician, he has just released his debut EP with his band Dusty Cut.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

ENERGY CRISIS – A MEMOIR OF SUMMER, PHILIPPA HOLLOWAY

Preserving personal reserves of energy as well as those of the planet concerns this well-written and engaging memoir, set in Snowdonia by a young mother and nascent rock climber who is serious about living well. 

Philippa Holloway grew up in a small town near Nottingham, came to Wales to study at university and refused to leave. She lives in Glasinfryn on the edge of Snowdonia and teaches Creative Writing on Anglesey for MIND. She has had short fiction published in such journals as Ascent Magazine in the US and Bukker Tillibul in Australia as well as giving readings and critical papers at international writing conferences. Philippa is currently working on a novel as well as collaborative work with other writers and artists. 

BANJAR DALUNG, TIMOTHY L. MARSH

Smart, sophisticated, very funny, this docujournal of the Indonesian island of Bali is set among the multicoloured chickens, traffic-stopping shitting cows and copulating rabid dogs of the smallest social unit, the banjar. Animal, natural and social lives are given equal weight in a world subject to economics.

Timothy L. Marsh was raised in Los Angeles, California. He is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University, and was recently a graduate exchange scholar at Auburn University, USA. His work has appeared recently in The Los Angeles Review, Ninth Letter and Barrelhouse. A two-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize (Best of the Small Presses), he has received scholarships from the Vermont Studio Center, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Squaw Valley Writers' Workshop, and the CAMAC Centre d'Arts.

BLURRED BOUNDARIES, ELLIE REES

The author of this beautifully balanced memoir looks at rights of passage: the houses and gardens she inhabited as an adolescent in suburban Bristol, as a Good Life young mother in Leicestershire, and facing old age in the Vale of Glamorgan. As people play roles throughout their life, is then nature only waiting to reclaim old stamping grounds?

Ellie Rees spent her early years near Borth with her Welsh father and English mother before moving to Bristol. She has spent the last thirty years living in the Vale of Glamorgan where she worked at Atlantic College. Since retiring as Head of Languages, Ellie graduated in 2013 with an MA in Creative Writing from Swansea University where she is now studying for a PhD. Ellie has had an essay, a memoir, a book review and an interview with Horatio Clare published by New Welsh Review and her poetry has been published in Roundyhouse, Poetry Wales and Swansea Review.  

 

The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Old College in Aberystwyth at 6:00pm on 25 February. First prize is £1,000 cash; e-publication of the work; a weekend stay at Gladstone's Library, Flintshire, and a positive critique of the work by leading literary agent at WME, Cathryn Summerhayes, as well as lunch with her in London. Second prize is a week-long residential course at Tŷ Newydd Writers' Centre in Gwynedd. Both winners will also receive a year's subscription to New Welsh Review

The New Welsh Writing Awards 2015 is sponsored by WWF Cymru and CADCentre. New Welsh Review has also partnered with Gladstone’s Library and Tŷ Newydd Writers’ Centre for this project. New Welsh Review is supported through core funding from the Welsh Books Council and is hosted by Aberystwyth University Institute of Language, Literature and the Creative Arts.