Five new Welsh writers join Hay Festival Writers at Work collective

Hay Festival has today unveiled the line-up of Welsh writers taking part in the 2019 Writers at Work creative development programme at Hay Festival Wales (23 May – 2 June), including five new writers: Janine Barnett-Philips from Cardiff, Mari Ellis Dunning from Aberystwyth, Rhiannon Hooson from the Welsh Marches, Dyfan Lewis from Cardiff, and Georgie Carys Williams from Swansea.

These five join a selection that blends emerging and established Welsh writers from all over the country – Gwynedd to Gower, Anglesey to Saundersfoot – including playwright Eric Ngalle Charles; the Wales Arts Review’s Young People’s Book of the Year-winner Eloise Williams; and co-founder of Cardiff’s BAME open mic night Where I’m Coming From, Hanan Issa.

Writers at Work is a long-term professional development strategy to nurture Welsh talent writing in both languages. The project gives access to the unique gathering of the literary world and exploits the publishing and creative writing expertise on offer for the direct benefit of professional writers in Wales.

The fully programmed week allows the selected writers to engage in the main Festival events, to attend masterclasses and workshops with publishers, agents and, crucially, with established international artists. The writers work in English and Welsh across genres: fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry and script.

A Hay Festival project funded by Arts Council Wales, Writers at Work is led by former Creative Wales Hay Festival International Fellow Tiffany Murray and supported by Literature Wales. Now in its fourth year, participants to date have achieved award wins and shortlistings, including the International Dylan Thomas Prize, The New Welsh Writing Award, the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, Wales Media Award, Welsh Rising Star Award, and Creative Wales Award. Former participant Alys Conran launches her new novel, Dignity, at Hay Festival this year.

Tiffany Murray, Writers at Work coordinator, said: Writers at Work is an unparalleled programme. Thanks to Arts Council Wales and Hay Festival we have our unique Hay Festival M.F.A. Now a growing alumni of Writers at Work are putting contemporary Welsh literature firmly on the international map.”

Morgan Owen, Writers at Work participant, said: “Being part of the Writers at Work programme has changed everything. Before, I saw myself as somebody who writes; now, I am a writer. What that means is that the shared experience of writing, talking about writing, learning about writing from the perspective of such diverse artists in an open, kind and fearless environment has reinforced my conviction, and shown me that writing is life, not an adjunct to it or a commentary on it from the margins. In the meantime, I have written more than ever, and I see myself as part of something truly international: a Welsh writer situated in a whole world of writing. The energy and creative sustenance that Writers at Work has given me has already borne fruit, and I will be publishing my first book of poetry this year, with more on the way.”

Eloise Williams, another Writers at Work participant, said: “I arrived plagued by imposter syndrome, self-doubt, a fraud who would be found out and sent home in shame. Writers at Work took away any doubt I had about my right to be a writer. I am a writer – I can say that now – and I haven't stopped writing since.”

Explore the full list of the Hay Festival 2019 Writers at Work here. And see the full Hay Festival Wales programme here.