Just finished a wonderful week at Ty Newydd, the Welsh writers’ centre. Under the beautifully balanced and complementary leadership of Jay Griffiths and Angharad Wynne, a select and varied group of poets, journalists, fiction and non-fiction writers delved deep into the layers of the history, myth and geology of Wales.
Bardsey Island formed an underlying focus to the week – we considered the island in fact and fiction before making the crossing ourselves, on a day when the three tidal currents were considered to be sufficiently well-mannered to allow us to cross and return without fear of being stranded. We listened to seals singing, puzzled over a gift of fish at the chapel door, heard the stories and poems of Christine Evans, a true Bardsey Bard. We walked in the footsteps of goats and saints and each had, in our own way, a small revelation, a nip of understanding and returned safely in Colin-the-ferryman’s capable and well-informed hands. We shared our disparate writings with each other in the evenings, fuelled by Tony’s excellent cooking.
Bardsey was not the only focus – we stood in the rain listening to the Dynevor in spate and the other sounds hiding behind its roar; put our ears to stoned and contemplated the view from the perspective of a twig on the beach; we stood on breezy Bryn Capel Fanar with its stone circle looking just like a stone crown on the mountain top and made out way down in the drifting mist; we sat at the summit of Tre Ceiri, a substantial settlement resonant of refugees of Roman rule, and shared poems, stories and songs.
As always, I returned over the border with a re-tuned voice, new friends, new writing, and the inspiration that comes from ancient landscapes shared with like minds.