WRITERS from west Wales have excelled themselves in this year’s Poetry and Short Story Competitions run by PENfro Book Festival. Against strong contenders from across the UK writers from the area won both contests.
And others from all over Wales have distinguished themselves by making the shortlists too. “We are delighted that so many fabulous writers from all over Wales, and some from our own area too, have proved themselves so strongly in these two competitions. We are especially pleased for them as they were judged completely anonymously against competition from all over the UK. It’s a great achievement and shows there is some fantastic creative talent in this area,” said competition organiser Jackie Biggs. Winner of the poetry competition is Katherine Stansfield, from Aberystwyth; and the short story competition winner is Diana Powell, from Mathry, Pembrokeshire.
They each win £250. Poetry results: Top prize (£250): Katherine Stansfield, from Aberystwyth, for her poem ‘The woman on my National Library of Wales library card’. Judge Dr Alan Kellermann said: “The winning poem strikes a difficult chord: it’s playful without sacrificing intellect. I was further impressed by the author’s ability to sustain a conceit and to achieve such crisp imagery while resisting the urge to embellish the poem’s diction. It was not only an enjoyable poem, but skilful.” Second prize (£100): ‘Postcard from the Ferris Wheel’, by Rachel Plummer, from Edinburgh. Dr Kellermann said: “It’s refreshing to see an author use form as a way of liberating language, rather than as a road map to the end of a poem.
It’s well-paced and the poem’s sense of longing—which can so easily be wound too tightly—was tuned just right.” Third prize (£75): ‘Divining Her Firstborn’, by Elizabeth Sennitt Clough, from Stretham, Cambridgeshire. Dr Kellermann’s comment: “This was quite a dense poem, but I don’t mind being asked to roll up my sleeves and feel around in a poem’s guts, especially when the effort is rewarded. And if the reader is willing to enter the space between the language and the visual, the reader is suitably rewarded.
A vivid, haunting poem.” A total of eleven poets made the shortlist, one with two poems. The others were: Angela Rigby, Conwy. – ‘Lotus’ Tom Gatehouse, Brecon. – ‘In Bloom’ Maria Isakova Bennett, Liverpool. – ‘Eight Day Chimer’ and ‘i hope you are well’ Natalie Ann Holborow, Swansea. – ‘Victoria Terrace’ Ian Humphreys, Hebden Bridge, West Yorks. – ‘Cruel moon’ Ken Sullivan, Reading – ‘ ‘79’ Stephen Giles, Lutterworth, Leicestershire. – ‘Your Tongue Stud’ Catherine Edmunds, Bishop Auckland, Durham. — ‘a warning’ Short story results First Prize (£250): Diana Powell, from Mathry, Pembrokeshire, for her story, ‘Ingrid Audrey and Jean’. Judge Maria Donovan said: “This is a short story perfectly in tune with itself. From its enigmatic title and first arresting image to the underlying themes of escape and belonging, it always keeps ahead of expectations. Calm, confident and disturbing: a treat to read and re-read.” Second Prize (£100): Shirley Golden, from Ringwood, Hampshire, for ‘The Parapet’ Maria Donovan said: “The subject of the First World War is very much in our minds this year, but it’s difficult to do it justice in a story written so long after the events.
‘The Parapet’ succeeds in making a soldier’s experiences so present and affecting that it brings an uncanny sense of what it might have felt like to be there.” Third Prize (£75): Jo Mazelis for ‘Marco’s Eyes’ Maria Donovan commented: “This is a consistently-voiced firstperson narrative – witty, observant, spiky and spiteful with the spite of hurt. The slowly percolating sense of the character’s pain made this story in the end more poignant than at first seemed possible.” The four others on the shortlist were: ‘Buttercup and Daisy’, by Wendy Smit-Taylor, Moylegrove, Pembrokeshire ‘The Eighth’, Tony Curtis, Barry ‘Oddly Sensitive Human Atoms’, James Doster, Pontyclun ‘Bristol Cream’, Janet Norton, Nottingham
Ceredigion Leisure Centres Summer holiday programme
A BUSY TIMETABLE of inclusive summer holiday activities for children has been organised across all Ceredigion County Council-run leisure centres in the county.
From football to bouncy castle sessions, from cycling skills to archery, there’s a wide variety of activities to choose from over the course of the summer.
There will also be day camps and multi-skills activity days available at some of the leisure centres, for children to attend for the whole day. There’s even a day trip to the beach with Teifi Leisure Centre!
A range of learning to swim programmes are available at Lampeter Swimming Pool and Plascrug Leisure Centre across the summer holidays. A week of swimming lessons will be delivered solely through the medium of Welsh in Plascrug Leisure Centre starting on 5 August.
Councillor Catrin Miles is the council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for Leisure Services. She said: “Ceredigion Actif is once again providing a busy timetable of fun activities during the summer. It’s a healthy and worthwhile way for children to spend their time during the summer.”
Booking for sessions is essential and staff at leisure centres reserve the right to cancel any session if attendance is too low.
For further information on the summer holiday activities planned, visit the Ceredigion Actif website.
A successful first year for Communities for Work Plus
OVER 200 REFERRALS have been received and 88 people have been supported by the Communities for Work Plus project in Ceredigion in its first 12 months. The project began in April 2018 with two Mentors and an Employer Liaison Officer. They support people to improve their employability skills. This should, in turn, help them either get employment or get better-paid employment.
Communities For Work Plus is a Welsh Government funded project, delivered by Ceredigion County Council which supports individuals in or at risk of poverty, aged 16 or over, across Ceredigion and throughout Wales. Participants may be experiencing in-work poverty, unemployment, living on minimum wage or struggling to pay basic monthly outgoings on sporadic zero hour contracts.
Mentors provide 1:1 support for participants with writing CV’s, undertaking mock interviews, up-skilling and funding a wide variety of training including help with starting up their own business. The team are looking forward to building on this success for the next 12 months to help residents of Ceredigion find employment and to reduce poverty.
One participant said: “I want to thank you and your team for helping me through this and of course funding it! Huge thanks to my mentor for putting up with me. She’s been brilliant. I am able to support my family now that I have regained my confidence and have secured a regular income after being out of work for a while.”
With the support of the project, 22 people have entered employment and others have entered volunteering placements, paid work opportunities or training. Training courses range from First Aid qualifications, retail or healthcare, construction safety cards and even HGV driver training.
Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet member with responsibility for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning said: “The project can help to source volunteering opportunities, paid work experience placements, employment opportunities and have good contacts with local employers. Support extends to people who are ‘in work poverty’ so if you are looking at improving your skills to enable you to get a better-paid job, then Communities For Work Plus could help you.”
Community Sponsorship to resettle Syrian refugees
FOLLOWING REFUGEE WEEK in June, Ceredigion residents are being encouraged to consider taking part in a community sponsorship scheme to host Syrian refugees.
Community Sponsorship was launched in 2016 and gives power to local volunteer groups to resettle a refugee family in their community.
Two Community Sponsorship schemes – Aberaid and Croeso Teifi – have already been established in Ceredigion. Both schemes have resettled two families each under Community Sponsorship.
Lindsey Gilroy from Aberystwyth’s Aberaid said: “It’s not easy. You have to raise at least £9,000 to cover costs like translation, furnishing the house and English lessons. You also have to get approval from Ceredigion County Council – they need to be confident that we are an organisation that is capable of providing the ongoing support that the families need.”
“However, despite the challenges, community sponsorship is an incredibly empowering and transformative process of taking leadership from the bottom up. We are all used to demanding action from government but community sponsorship enables people to take matters into our own hands and do it ourselves, which is hugely positive.”
Vicky Moller from Cardigan’s Croeso Teifi agreed. She said: “The council has been great, but there are a lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through. It is very much worth it though. The families we have welcomed to Cardigan are very grateful and very keen to contribute to local life. Our first family arrived in 2017 and the children now speak English and Welsh.”
Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn is Ceredigion County Council’s Leader and is the Chair of the Ceredigion Refugee Resettlement Group. She said: “Community Sponsorship is a big commitment, but hugely rewarding. It is a practical way for local people to respond to the global refugee crisis.”
“The refugees have said they are grateful for the genuine welcome they have received in the UK, and Ceredigion communities have exemplified this warm welcome.”
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