OUR ARTISTS

The short biographies for all our 2014 artists can be read below. If you would like to see photos of their wonderful faces, please visit our Facebook Group album.

Melissa Benn is a journalist, novelist, essayist, broadcaster and campaigner. Educated at Holland Park and the London School of Economics, her journalism has appeared in the Guardian, Independent, London Review of Books and Public Finance.

Zillah Bethell is the author of two novels – Seahorses are Real and Le Temps des Cerises (Seren) and her short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies, as well as the Seren Short Story of the Month for March 2014. Born in Papua New Guinea, she graduated in English from Wadham College, Oxford.

Kevin Brennan MP  was born in Cwmbran, Gwent. He taught History and Econimics at Radyr Comprehensive school for a decade before being elected as MP for Cardiff West in 2001. He served as a minister in three departments in the previous Labour Government, and is now a Shadow front bench minister for Education.

Carole Burns is an author and lecturer who lives in Cardiff. Her book of interviews with writers, Off the Page: Writers Talk About Beginnings, Endings, and Everything in Between, was published by Norton in 2008; her first collection of stories, The Missing Woman, is being published by Parthian in 2015. She is head of creative writing at the University of Southampton.

Lucy Christopher lives in Newport and was born in Wales but grew up in Australia. She has a distinction in a Creative Writing MA from BathSpaUniversity. Her debut novel Stolen (Chicken House is set in an Australian desert. It was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal, was the winner of the 2010 Branford Boase Award and the Australian Gold Inky Award. Lucy’s second novel, Flyaway, was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award 2010 and the Waterstones Prize, as well as being longlisted for the Carnegie Medal. She has just returned from a tour of the States with her third novel The Killing Woods (Chicken House).

Damian Walford Davies is Professor of English at Cardiff University. His latest collection of poems is Witch (Seren, 2012), and his next, Judas, wiil be published in 2015. His most recent critical book is Cartographies of Culture: New Geographies of Welsh Writing in English (University of Wales Press, 2012). His edition of Brenda Chamberlain’s play of 1967, The Protagonists, appeared last year.

Richard Lewis Davies is a writer and publisher. His selected stories are Love and Other Possibilities. His first novel was the feminist tract Work, Sex and Rugby. > Unfortunately Richard can’t make the event now, but a suitable replacement is being found. More news soon!

Nia Davies was born in Sheffield and studied English at the University of Sussex. Then Spree – her first pamphlet of poems – came out from Salt in 2012. As well as her work with Literature Across Frontiers and Wales Literature Exchange, her current projects include collaborations with other poets and artists, a series of poems spurred by the translation of long words in different languages and co-editing the online journal Poems in Which. Her poems have been published internationally and translated into Turkish and Spanish. In Spring 2014 she will take over the editorship of the international quarterly magazine Poetry Wales.

Jasmine Donahaye’s first collection, Misappropriations (Parthian), was shortlisted for the Jerwood Aldeburgh first collection prize in 2006, and her second, Self-Portrait as Ruth (Salt), was longlisted for Wales Book of the Year in 2010. Her monograph Whose People? Wales, Israel, Palestine (University of Wales Press) was published in 2012. Her next book, a commissioned biography of the author Lily Tobias, will be published by Honno in 2014. Jasmine teaches part-time at Swansea University, where she is a lecturer in Creative Writing and a member of the Centre for Research into the English Literature and Language of Wales.

Cath Drake, an Australian living in London, has been published in anthologies and literary magazines in UK, Australia and US. In 2012, she was short-listed for the Venture Poetry Award, awarded an Arts Council England grant and was writer in residence at the Albany Arts Centre cafe. Cath won the 2013 Mslexia/Seren poetry pamphlet prize. She is also a copywriter and non-fiction writer and her work includes award-winning journalism.

Mark Drakeford has been the Welsh Labour Assembly Member for Cardiff West since 2011, and Minister for Health and Social Services since March 2013. He has worked previously as a probation officer, youth justice worker and Barnardos project leader. He has lectured at Swansea University and Cardiff, where he has been Professor of Social Policy and Applied Social Sciences He was Social Policy adviser at the Welsh Assembly Government, and head of the First Minister’s political office during Rhodri Morgan’s tenure as First Minister.

Rhian Edwards: Winner of Wales Book of the Year 2013, the Roland Mathias Prize for Poetry 2013, the People’s Choice 2013, as well as current winner of the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry, Rhian Edwards is a rare poet who successfully bridges the gap between page and performance poetry.

Rhian Elizabeth is 25 years old and lives in the Rhondda. Her debut novel, Six Pounds Eight Ounces (Seren, 2014) is the story of the young Hannah King, a ‘liar’ who spins tales of her ‘crazy’ family, friends and glam-rock heroes as she grows up in Tonypandy.

Born in Philadelphia, Karen Fielding has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from Boston University and an MA in Creative Writing from Goldsmith’s College. The chapter City of Brotherly Love was first published in Lost on Purpose an anthology by Seal Press, and the first five chapters were published in Goldfish an anthology of writing from Goldsmiths; her poetry has appeared in literary journals Browse and Zinc in Paris; and the short story Camera Obscura in the online journal, writeThis. American Sycamore (Seren, 2014) is her first novel.

Kat Ellis grew up in Rhyl, North Wales and studied English with Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is an active blogger and amateur photographer. When not writing, you’ll usually find Kat up to no good on Twitter, playing badminton like a ninja, or watching scary films with her husband and feral cat. She speaks Welsh fluently and French badly. Her first published novel, Blackfin Sky will also be released in the US next autumn. Her short story ‘Underground’ is published in the Primed Anthology 2013, and short story, ‘Glimmer’, received a high commendation in the 2012 Bristol Short Story Prize.

Catherine Fisher is the author of Incarceron and 17 other novels, as well as three books of poetry. Catherine is also the former Children’s Laureate for Wales.

Lennie Goodings is the publisher of Virago Books, an imprint of Little Brown. Virago was set up in 1973 as a press dedicated to women’s writers. Virago authors include Sarah Waters, Linda Grant, Sarah Dunant, Margaret Atwood and writers from Daphne Du Maurier to Edith Wharton, published in the Virago Modern Classics.

Rebecca Gould is a theatre director, producer and teacher. She is currently Creative Producer at Soho Theatre in London. Rebecca was Associate Director at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, Young People’s Projects Producer at the National Theatre, Director of the Education Company at the English Shakespeare Company, and Associate Director of Made in Wales. As a freelance director Rebecca has worked for the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, the Royal Court (young writers programme), the National Theatre, Y-Touring, Bristol Old Vic, Chol Theatre and Sheffield Theatres.

Helen Griffin trained as a psychiatric nurse, then became an actress and the writing evolved from there. Her stage play, Flesh and Blood, was runner-up for the Verity Bargate Award, and later adapted to the award-winning film Little White Lies. The film of her screenplay Y Syrcas was shown on S4C over Xmas. She is currently developing ScarletTown, a drama series for S4C, writing a new play for National Theatre Wales and her sitcom, Dirty Work, is in development with Kindle TV and Pett Productions.

Philip Gross is a poet and sometimes a writer for children, novelist and playwright. He won T.S.Eliot Prize 2009 and Wales Book of The Year 2010. Recent collections Deep Field and Later dealt with his father’s final years and loss of language. He teaches at the University of South Wales.

Kit Habianic grew up in Caerphilly, Colwyn Bay and Cardiff. As a freelance journalist, she slept under the stars in the Western Sahara, chewed qat in the souqs of Yemen and sailed the backwaters of Kerala, purely for research purposes. Her debut novel Until Our Blood is Dry (Parthian, 2014) is serialised in the Western Mail. Her journalism has appeared, amongst others, in The GuardianThe Daily MirrorThe TimesMarie Claire (US), and Time Out and in trade titles in Europe and the Middle East.

Hail! The Planes are a Cardiff-based band creating intricate and melodic music with elements of folk and post-rock as vocals, electric guitar and violin interweave. For this performance core members Holly Müller and David Neale offer a stripped-back, intimate incarnation of their recent EP ‘Send A Signal To Me, Love’ and other material.

Carly Holmes was born on the Channel Island of Jersey and lives on the west coast of Wales. The Scrapbook (Parthian, 2014) is her first novel. She has an MA in Creative Writing from UOW Trinity Saint David and has just completed her PhD in Creative Writing. A number of her short stories have been published and placed in competitions. Carly is Secretary for the PENfro Book festival committee and organises The Cellar Bards, a group of writers who meet in Cardigan monthly for a lively evening of spoken word, and she’s also on the editorial board of The Lampeter Review. When not doing any of the above, Carly can usually be found in her garden, talking to her hedge sparrows.

Shani Rhys James was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1953, trained at St. Martin’s School of Art, and has been living and working in Wales for 30 years. She is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards including The Jerwood Painting Prize, The Hunting Observer Prize, a National Portrait Award, The Mostyn Open, the Gold Medal at the National Eisteddfod and Welsh Woman of Culture.  She was awarded an MBE in the 2006 New Year’s Honours List, and also received a Creative Wales Award from the Arts Council of Wales in January 2006.

Maureen Jivani’s poetry has been published in the UK, America, Australia, and New Zealand. She has a pamphlet, My Shinji Noon published in the Mulfran Miniatures Series. Her first full collection: Insensible Heart ( Mulfran Press 2009) was shortlisted for the London Fringe Festival Poetry Award 2010.  She also writes flash fiction, and is currently working on her second collection of poems.

Mab Jones is a popular performance poet based in Cardiff. Resident poet in the National Botanic Garden of Wales, her ‘delightful comic verse, articulate and imaginative’ (Three Weeks) has graced the stage in nearly 700 venues, including in the USA and Japan. She supported television’s Phill Jupitus at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, and her first collection is due out this autumn. ‘Absolutely brilliant’ – the Guardian.

A.L. Kennedy has twice been selected one of Granta’s Best of the Young British Novelists and has won numerous awards including the Costa Prize. Her new collection of short stories, All The Rage is released 6 March 2014. Born in Dundee in 1965, she lives in London. 

Jemma L. King is a poet based in West Wales. She won the Terry Hetherington Young Writer of the Year Award in 2011 and her creative and academic work has been published internationally. King’s debut collection, The Shape of a Forest (Parthian), was longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize 2013. In 2013, King began working on a poetry project, funded by Literature Wales, that sought to give voice to anonymous women of antique photographs.

Hayley Long xx xx xx Hayley Long has now been replaced by Catherine Fisherauthor of Incarceron and 17 other novels, as well as three books of poetry. Catherine is also the former Children’s Laureate for Wales.

Leona Medlin was born in Michigan and has lived in the UK much of her adult life. She was co-founder/publisher/editor with Richard Price of Vennel Press; librarian and systems analyst at the British Library; project and programme manager and freelance IT consultant in higher education. Leona has had poems, translations and essays published in magazines, anthologies and broadsheets and her Vennel Press collection The Tilted Mirror. As Leona Carpenter she edited and contributed to seminal books on the digital library and digital preservation. She now runs Mulfran Press, based in Wales.

Ceri Meyrick is producer of the BBC1 daytime detective show, Father Brown, starring Mark Williams as GK Chesterton’s eponymous priest/amateur sleuth. Series Three is shooting over the summer in the Cotswolds. Her previous roles have included series producer on EastEnders, storyliner and producer on Holby City, and tutor on the BBCWritersAcademy. @cerimeyrick

Kim Moore’s first pamphlet If We Could Speak Like Wolves was shortlisted in the 2013 Michael Marks Pamphlet Award after winning the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition.  She won an Eric Gregory Award in 2011 and blogs at www.kimmoorepoet.wordpress.com

Born in Cardiff, Eluned Morgan is the Shadow Minister for Wales in the House of Lords, and is a Labour whip on Foreign Affairs, and Education. She was granted a peerage in 2011 and is formally known as Baroness Morgan of Ely. She is a former Member of the European Parliament who represented Wales for the Labour Party from 1994-2009. Until July 2013 she worked as the Director of National Development in Wales for SSE (SWALEC). She was also appointed as the Chair of the Cardiff Business Partnership.

Julie Morgan A.M. was elected as the Assembly Member for Cardiff North in May 2011.  Prior to serving in the National Assembly for Wales, she was the Labour Member of Parliament for Cardiff North from 1997 until 2010, becoming the first woman MP to represent a part of Cardiff. She has campaigned on many issues affecting women and most recently on the Charter for Women, aimed at getting more women into politics.

Tiffany Murray’s novels Diamond Star Halo and Happy Accidents were shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize. She grew up in haunted houses in Scotland, Wales and Herefordshire. She has been a Senior Lecturer and an International Fellow at Hay. Sugar Hall is her third novel.

Francesca Rhydderch’s short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and Radio Wales. Her début novel, The Rice Paper Diaries, a Second World War fiction set in Hong Kong and Wales, was published by in May 2013. She has also been awarded a Literature Wales bursary to work on her first collection of short stories. Other recent projects include a play in Welsh, Cyfaill, about iconic Welsh-language writer Kate Roberts, for which she was shortlisted for a Theatre Critics Wales Award 2014 for Best Playwright (Welsh-language).

Hilary Shepherd (In a Foreign Country, Honno 2014): At the age of twenty-three, with a baby in one arm and a suitcase in the other, Hilary Shepherd went out to Ghana to join her equally young husband. Ten years later, in 1986, they took their by now three children to live in the Sudan for two years. When she started writing novels these two very different African experiences, suspended in the mists of memory, demanded to be written about. The rest of her life has been about farming, and working in wood. There’s a story in those things too.

Kathryn Simmonds has published two collections of poetry with Seren, Sunday at the Skin Launderette (2008), which won the Forward Prize for best first collection, and The Visitations (2013). Her first novel Love and Fallout will be published by Seren this summer. She is currently poet-in-residence at the Charles Causley Trust in Cornwall.

Debbie Taylor is Editorial Director at Mslexia, the magazine for women writers, which she founded in 1999. Before that she was an editor at New Internationalist and Writing Women, and has written for Oxfam, UNICEF, Anti Slavery and others about women and social issues. Her books include My Children, My Gold (Virago), a nonfiction travelogue about single mothers, and The Fourth Queen (Penguin), a novel set in a harem in 18th Century Morocco. Her new novel, Herring Girl (OneWorld), comes out in August 2014.

Penny Thomas is publisher with the new Firefly Press, a children’s and young adult publisher based in Cardiff and Aberystwyth. An English graduate and journalist, she is also fiction editor with Seren and co-organiser of the xx women’s writing festival. 

Jo Verity started writing in 1999 – to see if she could. She has had many short stories, poems and articles published or broadcast on Radio 4. She won the Richard & Judy Short Story prize in 2003 and the Western Mail short story competition in 2004. She was a finalist in the inaugural Mslexia International Short Story Competition in 2009 and a runner up in the 2011 Rhys Davies Short Story Competition. Her five novels have been published by Honno Welsh Women’s Press – the most recent, Left and Leaving, in January this year.

Sue Vertue is board director and producer at Hartswood Films. Her most recent work has been Series Producer for the multi-award winning, hit drama Sherlock for BBC1, which is co-created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.  Sherlock‘s third series was screened earlier this year.

Amy Wack was born in Florida, USA, grew up in California, has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University in New York. She has been Seren Poetry Editor since the early 1990s. Her poems and critical essays have appeared in various literary journals and magazines. She co-edited with Eva Salzman the anthology: Women’s Work: Modern Women Poets Writing in English.

Susie Wild is the author of The Art of Contraception and Arrivals. The editor at Parthian Books, she recently compiled the illustrated Rarebit anthology of short stories to celebrate their 21st birthday. Susie is also the literary programmer of Do Not Go Gentle festival in Swansea, a critic for The Stage, and a lecturer on the MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Gloucestershire. She lives in Cardiff. @soozerama

Georgia Carys Williams was born in Swansea.  She won third prize at the Terry Hetherington Award 2012, highly commended for The South Wales Short Story Competition 2012 and was short-listed for the Swansea Life Young Writing Category of the Dylan Thomas Prize, 2008. Whilst working on a PhD in Creative Writing at Swansea University, she writes for Wales Arts Review.  Her debut short story collection will be published by Parthian in 2014.

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