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Culture

Mapping our country – views from Wales

01 Jan 2023 4 minute read
Wales from space. Picture by NASA

Sarah Morgan Jones

Over the last year one of my favourite tasks on Nation.Cymru has been to prepare cultural and opinion pieces ready for publishing.

Nation.Cymru is dedicated to finding stories from all over Wales and new voices to tell them, and it is quite a perk of the job to be one of the first eyes on a new story being told in a unique way.

Reviews, interviews and publisher’s extracts have always been regular highlights of each weekend, but recently, a new audience grant from the Books Council enabled us to expand on our popular arts and culture coverage and launch several new features.

The ‘Letter from’ series invites writers from all around Wales to offer their unique and unrestricted viewpoint from where they are right now.

The range of topic matter has been vast, from a season-by-season view of the woods to a lifetime in a village, the proliferation of Christmas lights and lack of buses on a council estate, and wild swimming off Aberystwyth, through to political observations on the Stop Oil Crisis and women’s rights in Wales.

‘On Being a Writer in Wales’ has shone a spotlight on some of Wales’ authors exploring what it means to them to be living and working in or from Wales, up close or in terms of their bigger picture.

Passions

‘The Cleaver’ is ‘a bit of writing about being neurodivergent, disabled, ethnic and a woman in Wales’ by artist and writer Kate Cleaver, examining the intricacies of family life and her personal challenges, past and present.

The ‘My life’ column allows individual readers and authors to showcase their lives and passions in relation to reading, books and walking and how these activities impact on their health, well being and inclusion in society.

Lela Patterson and Ant Evans both share their stories while David Llewellyn thoughtfully records the view from his walking life, as well as his life as a writer.

Meanwhile, there is the chance to taste something different with food writer Carwyn Graves delving into his life in food.

Writer and documentary maker, John Geraint has shared several generations of Rhondda life insights, first through the serialisation of his debut novel ‘The Great Welsh Auntie Novel’ and then through his podcasts of John on the Rhondda, provoking many memories and anecdotes from our readers.

Connections

There are beautiful observations from nature writer Tawny Clark and from Lottie Williams, and the touchingly funny and ever more daring adventures of Del Hughes (is she the Nation.Cymru equivalent of John Noakes?), as well as the stunning new serialisation of Cynefin: A Sense of Place by Nigel Jenkins Award winner, Gaynor Funnell.

Sundays bring scorching political satire from Ben Wildsmith, who also adds his views on the rugby alongside in-depth long reads from Simon Thomas.

Added to this there are fascinating special features by Christopher Evans and a prolific body of sport and cultural work by our own, award-winning, David Owens,

Making connections to the island of Ireland, Carolyn Bracken delivers periodic poetry round-ups, Irish writer based in Wales, Brian Manton, reads stories from his Kilphouca collection in a Nation.Cymru audio first, while Jon Gower (quite apart from consuming and curating books for reviews) explores the connection between the two coasts of the Irish sea.

This names but a few and doesn’t even get started on our wonderful reviewers…

Push the button

As a small team, Nation.Cymru has to work hard and fast to deliver what it does and has been rewarded for this effort by more than trebling its readership in the last two years, now regularly receiving over a million visitors a month.

Alongside and contributing to that body of work, is this large team of guest contributors who labour over their reviews and insights and share their experiences.

Reflecting the wealth of our coverage, we’ve created an interactive map linking to the many voices that contribute to Nation.Cymru.

So go on, push the button… (and if someone is missing, you know what to do…)


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