‘Where is the Welsh short story going? Wherever Rob Mimpriss takes it.’ John O’Donoghue. Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. Books: Fiction. ‘Dark, complex, pensively eloquent’ (Sophie Baggott, New Welsh Review) — Reasoning, For His Warriors and Prayer at the End, three short-story collections now published by Cockatrice Books. Books: Translations. ‘Lucid, skilful, and above all, of enormous timely relevance’ (Jim Perrin). Rob Mimpriss’s new translation of Morgan Llwyd’s allegorical masterpiece, A Book of Three Birds. Books: Fiction. ‘In the most seemingly unremarkable of Rob Mimpriss’s pieces there is a skill, and a mystery and elusiveness to that skill, which other short-story writers might envy.’ Gee Williams. Books: Translations. ‘An invaluable translation.’ Angharad Price on Hallowe’en in the Cwm, the short stories of Glasynys, translated by Rob Mimpriss. Click to read: ‘Quietly written, contemplative... whose powerhouse is the depth of its moral reflection.’ Siân Preece, Rhys Davies Competition on ‘Hamilton Park.’ Books: Anthologies. ‘Industry in the Country of the Blind,’ new fiction in Land of Change, radical prose from Wales edited by Gemma Howell and forthcoming from Culture Matters. Journals: Stories. ‘Traveller M. in the Land of the Cynocephali,’ new fiction just published in Otherwise Engaged: A Literary and Arts Journal 6:2 (Winter 2020). Books: Anthologies: ‘this exemplary collaboration’ (Philip Gross). Dangerous Asylums, an anthology of fiction by leading Welsh writers, inspired by Denbigh Mental Hospital, edited by Rob Mimpriss. Latest article — read a selection of Welsh folk tales compiled and retold by T. Gwynn Jones, taken from his book, Welsh Folklore and Folk Custom. Latest comment – ‘Decency’s Limits — Abuse and Blocking on Virginia Crosbie’s Page’, a response to hate crimes and harassment on the Facebook page of Ynys Môn’s Conservative MP.

Image of Zoë Williams from The Guardian

Learning Welsh and Cottage Cheese/: A Response to Zoë Williams

The recent media spat following Zoë Williams’s unhelpful joke about the Welsh language as ‘existentially pointless’ in an article for The Guardian on 1st February offers two conclusions, not entirely negative. First, the joke was not especially racist or hurtful, compared with, for example, Jonathan Jennings’s demand on Twitter for genocide against the Welsh; or A. A. Gill’s description of us as ‘immoral, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls’ on the pages of The Sunday Times, or The Guardian’s relatively recent claim that teaching children through the medium of Welsh is tantamount to abuse, or the Sunday Times’s brilliant notion of polling English readers on whether Welsh schools should teach the Welsh language, or those numerous incidents since the Brexit vote of Welsh-speakers suffering discrimination or abuse at work or in public places. Rather, the joke arose from the same arrogant, lazy journalism as apocryphally required one Welsh statesman to explain to a BBC researcher – no doubt in words of one syllable, and containing vowels – that Plaid Cymru, Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the Urdd yr Eisteddfod are not the same organisation. Second, alerted no doubt by the ensuing furore, and perhaps by some dim flicker of sentience which warned them that jokes belittling the people of Wales are not consistently hilarious, The Guardian allowed the Welsh language some right of reply – not by the poet and seasoned language campaigner, Menna Elfyn, or by the novelist, Angharad Price, whose first novel was published in English translation by Quercus, or by Cerys Matthews or Michael Sheen, who have campaigned on language issues, or by the language campaigner, Eirys Llywelyn, whose protest against England’s control of Welsh broadcasting keeps her in the courts and her case in the news, or by Osian Rhys, the current leader of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, or by Aled Roberts, the current Welsh-Language Commissioner, or even by the former leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood, who has expressed the anger she feels at having to learn as an adult the language that should have been hers from birth – but in a piece about the rewards of learning small or obscure languages, written by Adrian Chiles.

In Wales, the discussion took a different course. Nation.Cymru pointed to English journalism’s long history of racism against the language and culture of Wales, while the novelist, Manon Steffan Ros, sharply questioned both the point of the joke and the ‘pointlessness’ of speaking in her native language to her children in theirs. But in the two nations, discussion of the national language of one of them, conducted in the national language of the other, was based on two sets of contrasting assumptions. First, in England, Welsh was something to be learnt, or not, by affluent professionals in their leisure hours, an alternative to dieting or exercise or evening classes in the important languages, while in Wales, it was treated as the bond between family members, the repository of two thousand years of poetry and thought, something precious and intrinsic to our national life. Second, in Wales, the assumption was that we have a right to be heard at least as often as we are talked about, while in England we remained outside the discussion, a problem to be debated by English pundits and columnists only.

I am the author of three short story collections. Reasoning and For His Warriors, originally published by Gwasg y Bwthyn, Caernarfon, with Welsh Books Council support, now join Prayer at the End and Pugnacious Little Trolls in revised editions at Cockatrice Books. My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums, including work by Gee and David Williams, Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, Simon Thirsk and others, was published by the North Wales Mental Health Research Project, October 2016. I am a contributor with Nigel Jarrett, Rachel Trezise, Tristan Hughes and others to Brush with Fate, an anthology of Welsh fiction translated by Hala Salah Eldin, and to Land of Change, an anthology of radical writing forthcoming from Culture Matters. My work has appeared in Albawtaka Review, Annexe Magazine, Blue Tattoo, Cambrensis, Catharsis, East of the Web, The Harbinger, The Interpreter’s House, New Welsh Review, New Writing, Otherwise Engaged, The Swansea Review, Tears in the Fence, Writing in Education, and elsewhere. I am a member by election of the Welsh Academy.

I am the translator of Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams (Cockatrice, 2015), Hallowe’en in the Cwm: The Stories of Glasynys (Cockatrice, 2017), and A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017). In addition, I have translated fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros.