A470: Bilingual poetry anthology celebrates Wales’ most famous road
A bilingual English-Welsh poetry anthology is set to be released on St David’s Day by independent London-based publisher Arachne Press
A470: Poems for the Road / Cerddi’r Ffordd is a collection of original poems by Welsh poets, all written in response to the 186-mile road which runs the length of Wales – from shore to shore and north to south.
The long and winding A470 is often described as ‘snaking’, linking Llandudno and Cardiff, passing through two of Wales’ national parks, breathtaking countryside, historical towns, villages, and valleys.
Described in a documentary on BBC Radio 4 as the ‘M1 Motorway of Wales’, it came into being following a pre-devolutionary campaign to link the north and south of Wales, adopting and renaming other roads along the way to augment the original stretch between Cardiff and Brecon.
This amalgamation requires the driver be alert to the direction changes on route, with narrow and twisting sections, mainly single carriageway, preventing overtaking for miles.
From the seashore to slate quarries, from nuclear power stations and fighter plane flypasts to forests, mountains and the capital city, the publishers say the anthology is intended to take the reader on a journey through memory, myth, love and grief:
‘Decades later, memory brings me
to the long trip up that narrow road
in the rearview mirror familiar Beacons shrinking’ – A Mountain We Climb, Rhys Owain Williams
The fully bilingual collection includes 52 poems which were submitted by writers in either English or Welsh in response to an open call. The selected poems were then translated, meaning each work in the anthology is side by side with its translation either from, or into, Welsh.
The final book is intended to celebrate the magnificence of both languages and the artistry of poets and translators.
Cherry Potts, Director of Arachne Press said: “This book has been a total joy to work on, from first idea to final choices of what to include.
“Sian Northey’s idea of a book in celebration (if that’s quite the word!) of the A470 was inspired. Everyone involved has been so engaged with the project that I can’t wait to launch it and share it with the world.”
The anthology is guest edited by Ness Owen and Sian Northey. Ness Owen is a writer who lives on the island of Ynys Môn where she writes plays, bilingual poetry and stories in between lecturing and farming. Her solo poetry collection, Mamiaith, was published by Arachne Press in 2019.
Tweeting yesterday she praised the work of the team that put the anthology together and the contributing poets.
through laugher and tears…..But the road is reopening and Sian and me have been on our first trip (virtually!) to Radio Cymru ready for Stiwdio on Monday night between 9-10pm. So if you want to listen to some of the background, a few poems and me being very overexcited about pic.twitter.com/BWeViK647m
— Ness Owen (@ness_owen) January 29, 2022
Sian Northey is freelance writer, translator and editor of over 17 books – ranging from children’s novels to poetry. Sian was brought up in Trawsfynydd, and now lives in Penrhyndeudraeth in Gwynedd. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the School of Welsh at Bangor University.
The anthology features work by Adele Evershed, Angela Graham, Annes Glynn, Ben Ray, Cas Stockford, Christina Thatcher, clare e. potter, Conway Emmett, David Mathews, Des Mannay, Diana Powell, Eabhan Ní Shuleibháin, Gareth Culshaw, Gareth Davies, Glyn Edwards, Gwenno Gwilym, Gwyn Parry, Haf Llewelyn, Ion Thomas, Isobel Roach, Jeremy Dixon, Julian Brasington, Karen Moore, Kevin Mills, Llŷr Gwyn Lewis, Lowri Williams, Mari George, Matthew Smith, Mike Jenkins, Morgan Owen, Natalie Ann Holborow, Ness Owen, Nicholas McGaughey, Non Prys Ifans, Osian Jones, Osian Owen, Pat Edwards, Rae Howells, Rebecca Lowe, Rhiannon Oliver, Rhys Owain Williams, Samantha Weaver, Sara Louise Wheeler, Seth Crook, Sian Northey, Simon Chandler, Siôn Aled, Stephen Payne, Tracey Rhys,Tudur Dylan Jones.
A470: Poems for the Road / Cerddi’r Ffordd is available to pre-order from Arachne Press here
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Driving along the A470 encapsulates the diverse and glorious and occasionally frustrating nature of Cymru. It’s scale and winding course from North to South are due to the geography of a mountainous country. The idea of driving a 3 lane highway through such glorious and stunning landscapes is abhorrent even though it might avoid having to sit behind the occasional tractor, milk transporter or articulated forestry vehicle. Better just to relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery.
That’s Gareth Writer-Davies by the way, not Gareth Davies; yup, my real name!
Llyfr gwych! Dathliad o’r ddwy iaith – a gwaith cyfieithu i’w ryfeddu! Trysor yn wir.
A splendid book – I loved all of it, in each language. And coruscations (!) of translation. Excellent! – buy it and treasure it. 🙂