‘freely and fiercely inventive short stories… supercharged with ideas.’ Jon Gower, reviewing Pugnacious Little Trolls by Rob Mimpriss for Nation Cymru. ‘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. ‘Bathed in white fire in every sense... Borges would happily own them.’ Gee Williams on Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. ‘A fine Welsh writer working under the radar who deserves to be much better known.’ Nation Cymru greeting Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Beyond question Wales’s finest and most subtle short-story writer working today... A work of great beauty and subtle force, a fine, distinctive voice.’ Jim Perrin on Pugnacious Little Trolls. ‘Zestful playfulness... along with a grand energy and capacity for invention.’ Jon Gower reviewing Pugnacious Little Trolls for Nation Cymru. ‘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. ‘Heaving with loss, regret and familial bonds.’ Annexe Magazine on ‘Gemini,’ a short story in Prayer at the End, published by Cockatrice Books. ‘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. ‘There is nothing ostentatious about his writing... And yet the best of these pieces express something important about psychology and human relationships, and the sparseness of the writing is capable of considerable power.’ Brian George, The Short Review. ‘These stories are a rare kind of joy. Even when they approach moments of discontent and danger they bring an optimism founded in human relationships. This is a wonderful collection.’ Prof. Graëme Harper, editor, New Writing. ‘An invaluable translation.’ Angharad Price on Hallowe’en in the Cwm, the short stories of Owen Wynne Jones, translated by Rob Mimpriss. ‘Humour and pity often arise from the characters’ inability to understand themselves and those close to them. In suggesting the truth and the self-deception Mimpriss not only engages our sympathy but makes us question our assumptions about ourselves.’ Caroline Clark, gwales.com ‘Quietly written, contemplative... whose powerhouse is the depth of its moral reflection.’ Siân Preece, Rhys Davies Competition on ‘Hamilton Park,’ published in Prayer at the End. ‘An immaculate collection.’ Nigel Jarrett, twice winner of the Rhys Davies Award, on Prayer at the End, a collection of short stories by Rob Mimpriss published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Through the stealthy movements of his prose, Rob Mimpriss enacts the quiet enigma of people’s lives and relationships. The result is an understated fiction of compelling intensity.’ Prof M Wynn Thomas. ‘The story is called ‘Valiant’ in the collection, For His Warriors. I recommend it. Highly. It feels to me already like a classic.’ Fiona Owen, editor, Scintilla. ‘A quiet writer with a loud voice... I’ll be listening for more.’ Michael Nobbs, gwales.com on Reasoning: Twenty Stories, published by Cockatrice Books. ‘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. ‘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. ‘This exemplary collaboration’ (Philip Gross). Dangerous Asylums, an anthology of fiction by leading Welsh writers, inspired by Denbigh Mental Hospital, edited by Rob Mimpriss.
Cover of New Welsh Review 102

‘Did R.S. Thomas believe in God?’ Review of Laboratories of the Spirit. Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea, 1st November 2013. In New Welsh Review 102 (Winter, 2013-2014) online.

Did RS Thomas believe in God? The question was put by M Wynn Thomas, a professor of literature at Swansea University, to Barry Morgan, the current Archbishop of Wales, and Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, at a public discussion of faith in RS Thomas’ work at Swansea last month. The prompt was a video clip in which John Osmond asks RS Thomas whether his rôles as poet and priest conflict. No, he replies, because poetry is metaphor, and religion is also metaphor. He sees no conflict between administering the Christian sacraments, which are metaphor, and administering the metaphor of poetry.

R.S. Thomas’s comment was perhaps deliberately evasive, and ignores the other meaning of Osmond’s question, whether the time he spent as a poet kept him from fulfilling his duties to his parish. Rowan Williams especially seemed anxious to defend his record as a priest. Young people remembered him fondly, and his sermons were clear and accessible. He would spend whole nights at the bedsides of the dying, or drive parishioners to see their relatives in hospital at Bangor from his parish on the Llŷn Peninsula, a round trip of eighty miles. His remark, argued Barry Morgan, is less alarming than it sounds, for RS Thomas does not state that religion is merely metaphor. He is not a systematic theologian, and does not pretend to an unambiguous faith, yet his work shows a deep conviction of the centrality of Jesus, of the centrality of his death and resurrection, and of the human-centred hope expressed in God’s future kingship.

Cover of New Welsh Review 101

Review of Blinc Digidol. Conwy, 25th October 2013. In New Welsh Review 101 (Autumn, 2013) online.

Elsewhere, a speech synthesiser scratched out lines by Dylan Thomas, but struggled with the Welsh of John Rowlands. A motion detector used passers by to animate a mediaeval danse macabre. A small carpark housed a second projector supervised by young men in gratuitous hats, where quietly disturbing images played themselves out to a background of quietly disturbing sound effects. A boiling egg, blood, a Rorschach blot... I have a particular horror of Rorschach blots... The mobile cinema was very comfortable, and a film by Kika Nicolela had a less attentive audience than it deserved. The lad in the fluorescent jacket seemed grateful just to rest his feet. ‘But, Mummy,’ a child said, ‘I simply must have a pony.’

I felt I'd seen and heard about enough.

Review of Dandelion, by Patrick Jones. Dir. Michael Kelligan. Perf. Sharon Morgan, Anthony Leader, Olwen Rees and Lynn Hunter. Y Galeri, Caernarfon. 24th September 2013. In New Welsh Review 101 (Autumn, 2013) online.

Perhaps by now I ought to be satisfied by the play, and I am, nearly, and I admire it in parts. But even the ending doesn’t quite feel right. It doesn’t feel quite human, as though the author is thinking in boilerplate terms about dramatic reversals and revelations, and as though Mrs Hartson is still not a real person to him. If she were, the business with the phone would be unnecessary. Moreover I’m dissatisfied because I know current and former Jehovah’s Witnesses, not all of whom were ostracised for leaving, and because twenty years ago I was in a cult. It was exploitative and controlling and did great harm to its followers, but there were only a few actual hypocrites, and even most of its leaders didn’t like having power. I feel that Dandelion gives us headline news on its themes but can’t do the human complexities.

Cover of New Welsh Review 93

Review of A Perfect Architect, by Jayne Joso and A Book For All and None, by Clare Morgan. In New Welsh Review 93 (Autumn 2011), 86-89.

Raymond’s act of homicide is more puzzling still, and if Morgan is aiming for an unexceptionable literary novel, this is where her guard most slips. For even if euthanasia without specific consent or clinical involvement is permissible on compassionate grounds, is Raymond qualified to exercise that compassion? Does he think he has power over Hannah because he is the child of her former employees and pays for her nursing, and is it irrelevant that she has sold land he wanted to keep? There is something deeply displeasing in Raymond’s assumption that an old age less privileged than his own will be is not worth having, or that a woman who can talk, reason and read the paper is helpless and lost to herself. The way that minor characters fare in fiction reflects the way that marginal figures fare in life, and so learned and sensitive a writer as Clare Morgan ought to know this. One admires this novel for its erudition, its poetry and its acute understanding of male and female passion, but there is something missing from its heart.

I am the author of four 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 (Albawtaka, 2014), an anthology of Welsh fiction in Arabic translation by Hala Salah Eldin, to Land of Change (Culture Matters), and to Creative Writing Studies (Multilingual Matters, 2007), essays on writing as an academic discipline edited by Graëme Harper and Jeri Kroll, and of the foreword to Rivers of Wales by Jim Perrin (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, forthcoming).

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), A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017), and of fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros. I was Artistic Coordinator of the North Wales Mental Health Research Project convened by Prof. David Healy at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, and am the editor of Cockatrice Books. I hold a Ph.D. in Creative and Critical Writing from Portsmouth University, and in 2011 I was invited to membership of the Welsh Academy in acknowledgement of my contributions to Welsh writing.