Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Window on the Weekend - Llangwm Litfest

View of Edwards Pill, Llangwm

What, who, when?  Do I hear you cry?  I would not be surprised as it is the first year that Llangwm has held such an event.

A little about the picturesque village of Llangwm, a small village with a big voice.  Llangwm is a former fishing village which nestles on the bank of the tidal River Cleddau.  The village has a population of approximately 800, a mix of residents who have lived in the village all their lives and 'blow ins' who have added to the talent in the community.  I mentioned that the village has a big voice and it does in the shape of its choir, Village Voices which has helped put Llangwm on the map performing not just locally but in St David's Cathedral and later this year will be performing in Cardiff.  The choir attracts talent from outside the village as well as within.  This literary festival has made a huge contribution to Llangwm's fame in not just attracting friends and relatives of those involved in the event and holiday makers but also reaching out bringing in celebrities and authors from afar.

Llangwm Litfest is the brainchild of Michael Pugh who recently came to reside in the village.  Michael, a financial lawyer in Moscow for several years made a very special journey back to the UK by completing part of it on horseback.  I am not going to divulge anymore.  Michael has a book due to be published shortly but in the meantime you can read about his journey on his blog and he can be heard in an interview with BBC Wales broadcaster Jamie Owen here around 40 minutes into the show.  

The festival was held for three days over the weekend with most events being held in the Village Hall.  Some events were held in the Rugby Club a short walk back into the heart of the village.  The Valero Marquee was put up next to the village hall and housed the box office, book signing, book sales, catering, a bar, children's events and one or two stands.  It was not just about books as many local artists opened up their studios which gave festival goers a chance to stretch their legs and explore the village viewing some wonderful work.  There was also an art display housing works from many of the village artists in one of the churches where they served bacon rolls, teas, coffees and a lovely selection of cakes.

I was very lucky to have had some small involvement in the event being one of the many volunteers stewarding talks along with my other half who also donned high viz waistcoat for his stint as car parking attendant.  The event was opened by one of the patrons and Michael Pugh commencing with awards to young local writers who entered a competition in varying classes (age and Welsh language) and the standard was high.

Who were the presenters?  Well, the most famous celebrity was Griff Rhys Jones who gave a talk on Saturday about his book published in 2014 Insufficiently Welsh.  The village also has its own writers in Liz Whitelaw who has recently finished writing a children's book and is hoping to be published soon and Pam Hunt who has already published two books Miss Daisy's Diaries (2012), Miss Daisy Conquers Britain (2015) and is planning a third book.

Here is everything you need to know about the event.  I stewarded Jo Mazelis talk on Friday evening, having read her book Significance two years ago I was interested to hear her speak.  Jo also hosted a workshop the following day titled Ways into Writing.  I was interested in this workshop but as I am not currently putting pen to paper in a creative sense I felt that it would not be of benefit at this time.  The second presenter I stewarded was Rachel Mann who talked about her self published novel The Book Soul.  Rachel an English and Drama teacher is a big supporter of libraries and encourages young people to read rather than spend all their time in the digital world.  Her own online presence is limited but she can be found on Amazon and Goodreads.  Rachel had also hosted a creative writing workshop titled Roald Dahl Reconstructed for younger writers on the opening day.

The Litfest has finished for 2016 but the village are eagerly looking forward to next year's event.  It was a truly magnificent weekend for a vibrant community.  I feel very blessed to live in such a beautiful county surrounded by coast on three sides, where the nearest beach is only 30 minutes away and most trips to the sea take an hour or less.  I am not a resident of Llangwm but live close enough to enjoy some of the things it offers.

Upcoming literary events in the county:
Penfro Book Festival
Book Fair at Tenby Arts Festival 

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