Writing Award

GwendraethI am very pleased to be one of 25 recipients of this year’s Literature Wales Writers’ Bursaries. The Bursary has been awarded for work on my new novel, The Water Age, which is set on the triple river estuary at Carmarthen Bay. It has a historical strand in the 12th century, focussed on Nest who was the daughter of the southern Welsh king, Rhys ap Tewdwr, and a future strand set in the 23rd century. I am currently researching the history and the Welsh castles that will feature in the story including Pembroke, Llansteffan, Carmarthen, Cardiff, Narberth, Carew, Kidwelly and Cilgerran. Also doing lots of research on water which will be significant in both parts of the novel, and on climate change and sea level predictions for the future story.

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Ifanca Helene James Short Story Competition – 106 days left to write the winning entry

Champagne-BottleThe deadline for the 2015 Ifanca Helene James Short Story Competition is 1st July. Stories should be a maximum of 2,200 words. First prize is £100 and a bottle of champagne. This year’s judges are Jeni Williams, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at University of Wales Trinity St David’s, and published writers Tracey Warr, Robin Bloor and Amanda Miles. You can read the stories from previous winners on the website.

http://ifancahelenejames.wordpress.com

See the entry form and competition rules on the website for full details on how to enter. You can post your entry with a cheque for the £4 entry fee or you can email your entry to us and pay via Paypal using our email address.

ihjcompetition@gmail.com

We look forward to reading your stories.

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Fiction Event in London

The Viking Hostage, Impress Books, 2014

The Viking Hostage, Impress Books, 2014

 

The End of Time: 10th Century Vikings in France and Wales

Guildhall Library

Aldermanbury, London EC2V 7HH

Wednesday 1 April 2015

2pm – 3pm

 

 

Tracey Warr will talk about the history behind her new novel, The Viking Hostage, set in late 10th century France and Wales, weaving together the stories of three women living through turbulent power struggles, Viking raids, and fears of The End of Time. Their stories tangle with questions of freedom and courage in the often brutal society of early medieval Europe. http://traceywarrwriting.com

The event is free but it’s essential to book at

https://tenthcenturyvikings.eventbrite.co.uk

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World Book Day – Event in Wales

The Viking Hostage, Impress Books, 2014

The Viking Hostage, Impress Books, 2014

 

10th Century Vikings in Pembrokeshire

at Pembroke Dock Library

Water Street, Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire SA72 6DW  01437 775825

Thursday 5 March 2.30pm – 3.30pm

Free

 

 

For World Book Day, writer Tracey Warr will talk about working as a novelist and the history behind her latest novel The Viking Hostage (Impress Books). The book is set in late 10th century France and Wales and weaves together the stories of three women living through turbulent power struggles, Viking raids, and fears of The End of Time. Their stories tangle with questions of freedom and courage in the often brutal society of early medieval Europe. Tracey Warr’s next novel will feature 12th century Pembroke Castle and Llansteffan.

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Posts from an Island 5 of 5: Water

Archipelago, Annantalo Young People's Workshop, Helsinki

Archipelago, Annantalo Young People’s Workshop, Helsinki

Water is essential to all life and around 67% of the human body is water. Although 71% of the planet’s surface is water, only 2.5% is fresh drinking water. The total amount of water in the planet’s water cycle always stays the same but since water has three states: gas, liquid and solid, changes in climate cause changes in water levels. Global warming means the oceans are getting warmer and warmer water expands. Aquatic life forms either don’t survive in changed environmental conditions or they have to move (if they can) to new habitats and water temperatures that suit them. Melting ice caps have also been expanding the liquid water in the oceans. The IPCC predicts sea level changes for 70% of coastlines worldwide. How much they will rise is debated but when tides and winter storm surges are factored in significant changes are very likely for low-lying coastal settlements such as Netherlands, east coast of US, coastal UK, Bangladesh, low-lying islands such as Tuvalu. Many people will be displaced by rising sea levels and coastal retreat inland is only a partial solution. Sea-steading, people living on water in communities and floating cities is another possible solution.

In the unlikely event that all the ice-caps melt the UK would look like an archipelago of small islands with many major cities, including London, Bristol and Norwich, underwater. Unlikely events can be the stuff of fiction so for the novel I am working on I’m imagining the coastal area of south west Wales 200 years in the future with a significant sea level rise and infrastructure and coastal settlements drowned. My heroine is more amphibian than terrestrial. She is hydrophiliac, more familiar with the properties and characteristics of water and aquatic flora and fauna than she is with the land. She knows about sound, light and gravity in water, the health of water, its motility, its eddies and vortices, and how fish use fluid dynamics and water structure. Perhaps we could say that they are swum by the water rather than swimming through and against it.

To help me imagine the fictional world I am creating I ran three Water Workshops at Annantalo Art School in Helsinki with young people (11-13) and their teacher, Elsa Hessle. We looked at how lilypads are waxy and repel water, how otters have long tails to balance when swimming, closable nostrils and ears, and dense fur creating a waterproof surface. We considered that one in 2000 people have syndactyly – webbed toes or fingers. And we considered historical and contemporary peoples who have adapted to semi-amphibian lifestyles, such as the Vikings.

Under Water World, Annantalo Young People's Workshop, Helsinki

Under Water World, Annantalo Young People’s Workshop, Helsinki

After discussing how we felt about water, islands, and aquatic life we created two water landscapes – one from a bird’s eye view: Archipelago, and one from a fish eye view: Under Water World. A picture diary of the workshops follows.

Many thanks to Annantalo, Elsa Hessle and her fabulous group of young artists, and to HIAP for supporting the workshops, especially Tomasz Szrama and Jenni Nurmenniemi. And thanks to Julie Turley and Urbonas Studio for the inspiration of the Water Workshop we previously organised at Modern Art Oxford.

Under Water 2

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Posts from an Island 4 of 5: Citizen Science

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BioStrike are an international collective of artists and scientists working on citizen science with a hacker ethos. I visited them yesterday at the Biofilia art and science lab at Aalta University where they are currently giving art students a crash course in manipulating genes to create bioluminescent plants, as well as undertaking their own open science research on antibiotics. They aim to teach microbiology that can be done in your own backyard and kitchen. See the Peer to Peer Foundation and Hackteria.

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Posts from an Island 3 of 5: The Interspecies Frontier

By Anneli Salo (Own work (Own photo)) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Anneli Salo (Own work (Own photo)) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Last night I saw a large urban hare in Helsinki, bounding across tramlines and main roads to the port, perhaps heading for the ferry to the island where I am staying.

An island is a distinct thing, it has parameters, water borders, it has by necessity to be a microcosm. I am writing within a project called Frontiers in Retreat. We have used the idea of the frontier as a horizon of expansive possibility – first into the supposedly empty lands beyond the West, across the seas, then into space and the galaxy. The frontier metaphor has been concerned with exploration, conquest and colonisation. But now there is no new frontier for expansion, frontiers are in retreat – now we are on Earth, in the biosphere, and really looking at that instead of evading doing so or taking it for granted (or at least we should be). Instead of endless new frontiers for expansion, there are limits – the limits of Planet Earth, and islands are both an actuality and a metaphor for those limits.

To me, Frontiers in Retreat, speaks to this: no new horizon for the human quest (a species characteristic), no new place for exploration, colonisation, exploitation, previously fulfilled by the New World, the Wild West, and Space. Instead our new quest is to confront the limits of Planet Earth in a time of global warming and the Anthropocene, to search for environmentally sound future technologies and lifestyles, to search for new types of knowledge – perhaps interspecies knowledge. In my own practice I am employing two principle research methods to address this quest: fiction writing and interspecies proximities.

By interspecies proximities I mean the knowledge of another species that zookeepers, or farmers, or hunters, or foresters, or animal behaviour therapists, or pet owners have. So a knowledge from durational familiarity rather than (or as well as) scientific study. I am interested in the body technologies of other species – octopus ink, spitting fish, flying fish, poisonous frogs. I am interested in parasitism across species, mutualism between species, and how other species are colonising human urban spaces and adapting us. See artist Pinar Yoldas‘s vision of aquatic life adapting to plastic infested waters, An Ecosystem of Excess.

See the Jutempus Frontiers in Retreat project, Zooetics.

From the ferry to Suomenlinna Island

From the ferry to Suomenlinna Island

From the ferry to Suomenlinna Island

From the ferry to Suomenlinna Island

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