The following was written by Dominic Williams of Write 4 Word, sharing the exciting news of Parthian Poet Rhian Elizabeth's writing residence.
Since the summer of 2014, the year of Dylan Thomas’ centenary, the small, ordinary town of Tranås in Southern Sweden annually becomes a hub for the activity of language artists from all over the world. A small group of writers, poets and storytellers is selected to spend a month in each other’s company and create an international community that explores how practitioners from different cultures develop and deliver the spoken and written word within literary traditions.
Representing Wales at this residency in 2018 is the award-winning writer, Rhian Elizabeth. Rhian follows in the footsteps of other contemporary writers of Wales including, Natalie Holborow, Tishani Doshi, Anthony Jones, Mel Perry, Chris Ozzard and Jeni Williams. During her time in Sweden Rhian will also contribute to the international programme of literary events within the “At the Fringe” arts festival. Rhian’s collection of poetry the last polar bear on earth, published by the Welsh literary press, Parthian Books, will be launched during the festival.
The book charts her journey through living with Multiple Sclerosis and through an abusive relationship with, she hopes, humour. Other performances, talks and readings will be provided by artists from Italy, Turkey, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium, Syria and Portugal, among them the National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn.
The presence of the festival and the literary residency within the European calendar of cultural events is largely a result of the collaboration between former Parthian marketing director Dominic Williams and Colm Ó Ciarnáin, the director of the Swedish Arts organisation, Kultivera. Williams runs a community interest company based in West Wales called write4word and says
'The contribution that Welsh arts organisations and Welsh writers make to a pan-European cultural tradition is exciting and the artistic partnerships that are formed during occasions such as this will continue to feed healthy internationalist perspective for our national cultural output.'
Rhian Elizabeth shared her thoughts on the residency and the impact it has had on her writing:
'I am so happy to have been invited to Sweden for this residency, not just because it means I get a three week break from my almost teenage daughter, or because of the naked swimming in lakes, or even because I have the honour of launching my poetry collection here, but because I get to share the experience with other writers from all over Europe. We have made friendships and connections already and I think it’s safe to say that when these three weeks are over, these connections will lead to lots of great things and new opportunities. I will probably not want to go home.' - Rhian Elizabeth