An absolute pleasure to welcome the new cohort to the Hay Festival’s Writers at Work initiative 2018. In 2016 and 2017, I was fortunate to spend the duration of each festival immersed in this professional development heaven, meeting incredible writer colleagues on the programme, and well-established authors and film makers speaking at Hay. It was a life changing experience for me; since this period, I use Welsh more confidently in my creative work and have had all manner of opportunities arise, but more than that, I can share contacts, industry knowledge that I learned. ‘Hay is the epicentre of generosity,’ said Jon Gower. I would agree and know that it’s important to pass things forward.
Although I bumped Mark Strong when dancing at the disco in Booth’s book store, and chatted with Ben Okri, while Benedict Cumberbatch DJ-ed, and Tom Jones called me Love (ahh), it was listening to refugee writers, and prison writing facilitators that most moved me, and of course the gentle advice from writers who in our tent spoke with such honesty about their process, their own difficulties and joys. Aicha who had learned to shape her story through the British Red Cross stepped to the podium and said, ‘Here I feel like I will be protected and my voice will be heard and my choice will be respected.’ What a blessing it is that we have festivals like this, and live in a country where we can speak freely without fear of torture or imprisonment. Important to do all we can to ensure that the world is a place where all voices are free.
I was interviewed by Dylan Moore Institute of Welsh Affairs
Film interview by Rhys Jones (I read at the Hay Winter Festival in honour of Gillian Clarke’s 80th birthday)