Aberaeron Book Festival

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  • Rhiannon Ifans
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Aberaeron Book Festival 2019 Review

Cabinet Secrets and German Jazz Halls to Steampunk and Corner Shops

Stories and reminiscences from the past to the future filled Aberaeron’s Memorial Hall as the second Gŵyl Lyfrau Aberaeron Book Festival brought over 25 authors, poets and performers to the town this month.

Opened by Aberaeron’s Mayor, we were suddenly in the jazz halls of Stuttgart as Rhiannon Ifans delivered the headline talk on her National Eisteddfod Prose Medal winning novel Ingrid. Former cabinet minister Lord John Morris, in conversation with former S4C and BBC reporter Alun Lenny, then revealed how he squeezed the first ever government grant towards the Eisteddfod from Prime Minister Harold Wilson, following a long walk around the falls at Devil’s Bridge. Quoting from his new memoir, Cardi Yn Y Cabinet, he asked for £75,000 but settled for £50,000 after Wilson warned: “Don’t pitch it too high, or the Treasury manderins will kick it out.”

Ceredigion MP Ben Lake presented the inaugural ‘Llyfr y Flwyddyn Aberaeron Book of the Year’ to Megan Hayes for her capture of what he described as: “an important and influential period of Ceredigion history” in ‘Cows, Cobs and Corner Shops.’ This bilingual investigation of the dairymen and women from rural Wales who established London’s milk trade, beat Gail Honeyman’s UK best seller ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ into second place with another local book, Ifor Lloyd’s ‘Derwen’ coming third.

Audiences were strong for all the set-piece events, featuring writers working in both the Welsh and English languages. Especially the Welsh crime writer’s panel of Alun Davies, Geraint Evans and Meleri Wyn James and Sunday lunchtime’s interview of  Ifan Morgan Jones, author of ‘Babel’ the first Welsh language steampunk novel, by comic thriller writer  Daniel Davies.

Organisers Dr Niki Brewer and Karen Brewer of Gwisgo Bookworm, Aberaeron’s independent bookshop, explained: “The ethos of Aberaeron Book festival is to promote current writing and writers of Ceredigion and west Wales, in every genre, with a strong bilingual focus. We have an unrivaled wealth of talent on our doorstep that is making an important and increasing contribution to the literary world. The festival aims to celebrate and promote existing work and encourage the development of new writing.”

The youngest authors present were pupils from Ysgol Gynradd Aberaeron who read from their own community publication and there were also children’s workshops and presentations delivered by Huw Davies,  Medi Jones-Jackson, Sharon Mari Jones and Colin R Parsons.

A series of adult workshops included Aberarth and Llanarth Bookclubs, Dr Jacqueline Jeynes on travel writing, Annette Ecuyere on dialogue in fiction and Kathy Miles on poetry. Kathy also headlined the Friday night poetry session at the Monachty Hotel with Chris Armstrong, Jackie Biggs and Karen Gemma Brewer.

Henfynw’s E M J Foster previewed her forthcoming Brexit influenced novel ‘Home?’, L E Fitzpatrick launched the fourth novel in her Reacher sci-fi series ‘The Rising Fire,’ and there were readings from Adam Somerset, Alys Einion, Derek Moore, Wil MacMillan-Jones and a special memorial reading of the late John M Hughes’ poem ‘At Ynys Las.’  

O gyfrinachau’r Cabinet a Neuaddau Jazz yr Almaen i Steampunk a Siopau Cornel

Llenwyd Neuadd Goffa Aberaeron â straeon ac atgofion o’r gorffennol pell drwodd i’r dyfodol wrth i ail Ŵyl Lyfrau Aberaeron ddod â thros 25 o awduron, beirdd a pherfformwyr ynghyd ar yr 2il a’r 3ydd o Dachwedd eleni.

Agorwyd yr Ŵyl gan Faeres Aberaeron, y Cynghorydd Katrina James, ac yna aethpwyd â ni’n syth i neuaddau jazz Stuttgart wrth i Rhiannon Ifans draddodi prif gyflwyniad yr Ŵyl am ei nofel Ingrid, a enillodd iddi’r Fedal Ryddiaith yn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol. Yna, aeth cyn-Weinidog y Cabinet, yr Arglwydd John Morris, mewn sgwrs â chyn-ohebydd S4C a’r BBC, Alun Lenny, ati i esbonio sut y llwyddodd i sicrhau’r grant Llywodraeth cyntaf erioed tuag yr Eisteddfod oddi wrth y Prif Weinidog, Harold Wilson wedi iddynt fod am dro i lawr rhaeadrau Pontarfynach. Gan ddyfynnu o’i fywgraffiad newydd, Cardi Yn Y Cabinet, cofiai sut y gofynnodd am £75,000 ond rhaid oedd setlo ar £50,000 wrth i Wilson ei rybuddio, “Paid â gofyn am ormod rhag i swyddogion pwerus y Trysorlys ei ddiystyru’n llwyr.”

Cyflwynodd Ben Lake AS y wobr ‘Llyfr y Flwyddyn Aberaeron’ gyntaf erioed i Megan Hayes am gyfleu’r hyn a ddisgrifiodd Mr Lake yn, “gyfnod pwysig a dylanwadol yn hanes Ceredigion” yn ei gwaith Cows, Cobs and Corner Shops. Rhagorodd yr archwiliad dwyieithog hwn o’r dynion a merched llaeth a ddaeth o Gymru wledig i sefydlu masnach laeth Llundain ar lyfr Gail Honeyman, a werthodd orau yn y Deyrnas Gyfunol, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Daeth y llyfr gan yr awdur lleol Ifor Lloyd, Derwen, yn drydydd.

Daeth cynulleidfaoedd mawr ynghyd i’r holl brif ddigwyddiadau i ddathlu awduron sy’n gweithio yn Saesneg ac yn Gymraeg. Enghraifft nodedig o hyn oedd y panel o awduron ditectif a oedd yn cynnwys Alun Davies, Geraint Evans a Meleri Wyn James. Ar y prynhawn dydd Sul, bu’r awdur nofelau comedi Daniel Davies yn sgwrsio ag Ifan Morgan Jones, awdur Babel, sef y nofel ‘steampunk’ gyntaf erioed yn Gymraeg.

Esboniodd Dr Niki Brewer a Karen Brewer o siop Gwisgo Bookworm, siop lyfrau annibynnol Aberaeron mai holl ethos yr ŵyl yw hyrwyddo gwaith ysgrifennu cyfredol ac awduron o Geredigion a gorllewin Cymru ymhob genre, a rhoddir pwyslais mawr ar y ddwy iaith. Pwysleisiwyd bod gennym gyfoeth anhygoel o dalentau lleol sy’n gwneud cyfraniad pwysig a chynyddol i’r byd llenyddol ac ychwanegwyd mai nod yr ŵyl yw dathlu a hyrwyddo gweithiau cyfredol ac annog ymdrechion i ddatblygu gweithiau newydd.

Yr awduron ieuengaf yn yr ŵyl oedd disgyblion Ysgol Gynradd Aberaeron a fu’n darllen o’u cyhoeddiad cymunedol eu hunain. Bu Huw Davies, Medi Jones-Jackson, Sharon Marie Jones a Colin R Parsons hefyd yn cynnal sgyrsiau a gweithdai i blant.

Bu Clybiau Llyfrau Aberarth a Llanarth yn rhan o’r gyfres o weithdai i oedolion, bu Dr Jacqueline Jeynes yn sôn am ysgrifennu llyfrau teithio, bu Annette Ecuyere yn sôn am sgwrs mewn ffuglen a chlywyd am ysgrifennu barddoniaeth gan Kathy Miles. Bu Kathy hefyd yn arwain y sesiwn farddoniaeth ar y nos Wener yng Ngwesty’r Monachty yng nghwmni Chris Armstrong, Jackie Biggs a Karen Gemma Brewer.

Cafwyd cip hefyd ar nofel E M J Foster o Henfynyw a ddylanwadwyd gan ddigwyddiadau Brexit, sef Home?, lansiodd L E Fitzpatrick y bedwaredd nofel yn ei chyfres o weithiau ffuglen wyddonol Reacher, The Rising Fire, a chafwyd darlleniadau gan Adam Somerset, Alys Einion, Derek Moore, Wil MacMillan-Jones ynghyd â darlleniad coffa arbennig o gerdd y diweddar John M Hughes, At Ynys Las.