Longlist 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 longlist for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2015. Nine non-fiction works on the theme of nature and environment were chosen from the substantial submissions received over the summer. 

Co-judge and magazine editor Gwen Davies says: “This prize has delighted me in the quality, humour, dedication, style and integrity of the writers it has thrown up, many of them unknown to me until now. Themes that have emerged include the isolation of islands, the quest to live well, the preservation and use of energy of all kinds, and the attractions and dangers of the border between wilderness and artifice. Fittingly for a competition based in Wales open to writers across the UK and Ireland, the landscapes of Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia are clearly present, but also settings we'll want to know more about, from a Japanese island close to Russia, a rock in the North Sea, and Bali.”

We are proud to present the nine longlisted authors as follows:

Summer Assistant, Virginia Astley 

Recounting one summer job as assistant lock-keeper on the River Thames, this engaging and witty journal loves the people on it as much as the river itself (almost), and encompasses rock music, the nature of meaningful work and the many failings of the Environment Agency. 

Virginia Astley was brought up in rural Oxfordshire where she spent summers running wild on the banks of the Thames. She currently lives in West Dorset. As a songwriter, she has released five albums and is published by Warner Chappell. Her poetry has been published by Caught by the River, the Bridport Prize, the New Writer and the Frogmore Papers. As the winner of the 2014 Munsterlit's Fool for Poetry Competition, Virginia's chapbook will be published by Southwold Editions in 2015.

Heligoland, An Ecology of Exile, Elaine Ewart

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.

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. Themes of seasonal transformation, the peripheral, folklore and learning to belong.

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.

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. 

Land Parcel E21, Karen Izod

Cleverly disguised as a formal response to a local government consultation on development on a North Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this study, of a square mile of intimately known geography, history, flora, fauna and landscape, is quietly compelling.

Karen Izod lives near the North Downs. She works as an independent consultant in organisational and professional development, and as an academic. Her interests combine exploring emotional attachments to landscape and city spaces, and how these impact on professional and citizen roles. She has recently been published in Agenda and Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Pyschoanalysis.

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. 

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 will be releasing his debut EP with his band Dusty Cut in January 2015.

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 is currently a graduate exchange scholar at Aubun 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.  

Flight, Anna-Marie Young

A journal in search of the healing powers of being remote, across the Preseli, in Istanbul, to the island of Skokholm and Iona, and within relationships. Deep, dignified, uncompromising.

Anna-Marie Young is based in Pembrokeshire, west Wales. After graduating from her Masters Degree in Nature Writing, she has been working on her first non-fiction novel exploring the themes of identity and landscape, whilst travelling north into the Arctic Circle. Her work has been published in anthologies and online, and she currently writes for the tourism department about life in Wales. http://www.annamarieyoung.com/ https://twitter.com/Berry_Anna

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.