Monthly Archives: January 2010

Rugby Legend Returns

Scott Quinnell Sept 08

Reading Is Fundamental UK
Sports and Literature Wales

In September 2008 rugby legend Scott Quinnell, returned to the South East Welsh Valleys and visited over 600 children in Merthyr and Caerphilly as part of the South Wales Valleys Sports and Literature Reading Is Fundamental Project.

Scott inspired the pupils with the story about his own struggles with learning and talked about growing up when dyslexia hadn’t really been identified, and the support needed for him to succeed was not available.Scott is now trying to encourage other children to follow his lead and get the support that is now available for sufferers of dyslexia.

He said: “I used to fear public speaking, but now I enjoy going round and talking to school children and teachers. It’s just for the children to realise that it’s so important to get support, and not be afraid to say when they are struggling. You can be exceptionally intelligent but just find it hard without the right support. If these talks can help just one child, then that’s fantastic.”

Scott signed copies of his book The Hardest Test for the children to keep. His visit to the schools and Library has been one of the most successful events run as part of the RIF Sports and Literature project in the Valleys.

Gavin Jones, who at 17 is working his way into the youth set-up at Newport Gwent Dragons as a flanker, found it inspiring to hear a rugby legend talk openly about his problems. He said: “It was brilliant. It was a really good talk, and it was wonderful to meet Scott. He was just a fantastic player to look up to, and it was great to listen to him.”

RIF, UK was established in 1996, following the success of RIF, Inc in the USA. Since then, RIF has given more than 750,000 books to over a quarter of a million children living in disadvantaged areas. By promoting reading for pleasure, RIF encourages life-long reading and helps address the cycle of underachievement.

Scott Quinnell Sept 08   Scott Quinnell Sept 08

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Carol Ann Duffy Welsh Valleys Tour

Carol Ann Duffy

On Friday 24 October 2008, one hundred and thirty students and members of the general public enjoyed stimulating readings from celebrated poet Carol Ann Duffy on a whistle-stop day tour around the South Wales Valleys.

During the day, Carol Ann took students through a selection of her poetry, including works which are currently are being studied as part of the ‘A’ Level syllabus. Pupils from Ysgol Gyfun y Cymer, Porth and Caldicot Comprehensive School were able to hear the voice of a poet, the phrasings and pauses and emphases and generally come to an understanding of pieces which they had otherwise only seen as poems on the page. Carol Ann was more than happy to read particular poems on request and to answer questions from the pupils about the how and why of her work.

The final event, held in Abertridwr Library on Friday evening included readings and discussion with Merthyr poet Mike Jenkins. The session attracted a highly appreciative audience of students and general public.

Carol Ann Duffy has read in south Wales on a number of occasions and always enjoys the critical appreciation of the audiences and the warmth of the response.

Mike Jenkins.

Writing Aloud

Writing Aloud

One hundred and thirty nine writers, authors and publishers from around Wales attended Academi’s Writing Aloud Day on Saturday 22 November at Llanhilleth Miners Institute near Abertillery.

As part of the South Wales Valleys Literature Development Initiative, this Academi-organised event was held in partnership with the Llanhilleth Institute, Blaenau Gwent Libraries, Llanhilleth Communities First, Seren, Pont Books, Screaming Dreams Publishers, Pendragon Press and CPD Printers.

Academi Chief Executive Officer, Peter Finch launched the day with advice on how to get published. Other features included talks from some of Wales’s leading writers, including romantic novelist Catrin Collier and broadcaster and author Mavis Nicholson, along with workshops from some of the country’s best writers including:

• Paul Henry – poetry
• Steve Lockley – horror
• Paul Manship – writing for children
• Della Galton – short stories
• Catherine Fisher – writing for children and poetry

The day also offered the opportunity to meet some of Wales’s leading publishers including: Accent Press, Pendragon Press, Pont Books, Screaming Dreams and Seren. CPD Printers were available to explain the process of turning a manuscript into a book.

Writers attending were given the chance to submit a manuscript and the best one will be assessed, at a later date, by the publishers involved.

The day aimed to attract and celebrate the creative writing talents of people of all ages and abilities. It showcased Welsh publishers and authors and offered the opportunity to discover more about how to get published and to reach the reading public.

Comments from delegates included:
‘Enjoyed the day immensely. It was very informative and helpful.’

‘Very interesting with lots of different points of view and authors.’

‘Excellent; focused, useful, well-run with good sessions.’

Peter Finch said ‘The Academi’s Writing Aloud day run as part of our South wales Valleys initiative and with the considerable help of staff at the revitalised Llanhilleth Miners Institute was an amazing success.  A 50% higher attendance than estimated shows that in these days of recession something still sparks and shouts.  There is a clear need among new, amateur and beginner writers of Wales for the help and advice that a day like Llanhilleth’ s provides.  Attendees listened to talks, met published authors, accessed insider gossip, sat in specialist workshops, had their manuscripts assessed, bought books, discussed agents, publishing and plots, learnt about characterisation, form, format and how to manage success.  Most said they’d come again.  Watch the Academi website to find out where and when.’

Peter Finch

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New Light on Bridgend

Mari Lwyd

In November 2008, 17 local residents of Bridgend were involved in creative writing workshops to feed into the Bridgend New Light Project co-ordinated by Bridgend Arts Development team.

Twelve young people from Bridgend worked with rap poet Aneirin Karadog to create a modern rap response to the traditional Mari Lwydpwnco. The new rap was performed on the main stage to a multicultural back beat provided by the Bad Bikes Dhol Drummers in front of an audience of 150 people in Bridgend Town Centre.

A further five retired citizens from Bridgend worked with poet John Bilsborough to create a group poem on the theme of Christmas and Family. The finished poem was filmed by local media students from Bridgend College and projected onto shop fronts in Dunraven Place on 17 December as part of the New Light project.

The project was a partnership between Academi; Bridgend Arts Development; Wideload; Bad Bikes and Youth Works, Bridgend.

Wildmill rappers

Y Fari Lwyd Rap
Wildmill Youth and Aneirin Karadog

Yo, yo, yo bro I’m going with da flow Jo
And I’m layin it down coz I’m the best MC in town

I’m Gibby so you’d better get ready
Coz when I’m on the mic you’ll have to hold steady

I’m MC Brinny and I’m not here to sing
I’m rappin on the mic and I’m not here for the bling

I’m MC D and I’ll blow the amplifier
And I’m so hot the boom box is on fire

We’re knockin on the door listen up here’s the score
The Fari Lwyd is here so you’d better clear the floor

We’re on a mission for tradition Fari Lwyd is in position
We’re ready for transition New Year’s coming so listen

We’ve got the head of a horse but we’re not the mafia
It’s called the Fari Lwyd and we are the Taffia

We’re outside making shapes coz the Fari Lwyd’s a dancer
So come on open up and give us an answer

Mari Lwyd

Download a copy of Y Fari Lwyd Rap here:

MP3 (Audio) File 1317.23KB

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Sporting Academi All Skilled Up Read it, Write it, Play it Academi & Cardiff City Football Club Sports and Literature Project

CFC Logo

Thursday 15 January 2009 saw the launch of an innovative new sports and literature project between Academi, South Wales Valleys Literature Development Initiative and Cardiff City Football in the Community Team at Ninian Park Football Club ‘All Skilled Up, Read it, Write it, Play it.’

127 Pupils from Garnteg and Pontnewydd Primary Schools, Torfaen and St Mary’s Roman Catholic School and Rhos y Fedwen, Blaenau Gwent visited Ninian Park Football Ground for an inspiring day of football activities and creative writing opportunities. Pupils worked with John Tripp Award Winner, Peter Read to create a new football chant. They also explored a range of football techniques as part of their guided tour around the grounds of the club.

This was a partnership project with Academi, Cardiff City Football in the  Community Team, LEA Education Departments, LEA Libraries and BSA Cymru. The project aims:

  •  To utilise an interest in sports to actively engage particularly men and boys in literature and creative writing sessions
  •  To stimulate and support new creative writing talent in the Valleys of Wales in areas not traditionally involved
  •  To raise the profile of creative writing
  •  To encourage active participation in sports activities to help reduce obesity and heart disease amongst the target audience
  •  To encourage strong links with local Libraries/Educational facilities and Sports Centres/Clubs
  •  To celebrate multi-culturalism in Wales through the medium of sport

The groups were involved in a rolling programme for 7 weeks with a variety of different workshops and activities including a variety of creative writing workshops such as writing Match Reports, researching information on sports role models and creating top trump characters and creating and performing a football related play.

Alongside the creative workshops, pupils were also be encouraged to learn more about and practice a variety of creative football skills with Cardiff City’s Football in the Community Team Tutors.

CFC Sports and Lit

Poems:

The Semi Final
Garnteg Primary School and Peter Read

Running down the wing
Like a jet swooshing
Through the whipping wind
The crowd excited as never before.
Wearing my bluebird shirt
I skim past Rinaldo, Tevez and Rooney
As the crowd chant my name
“Liam, Liam, Liam Jones
There’s only one Liam Jones.”
Suddenly there’s only Van Der Sar to beat
He narrows the angle, dives at my feet
An open goal, no one left to tackle me
I see Liam Jones in the history books
Hear my name on Cardiff City’s lips
I bring back my foot
To score the brilliant goal.
Hear a voice in the back of my head
“Wake up Liam, you’re going to be late
It’s time for school, it’s half past eight.”

Peter Read CFC

FA Cup 2007-2008
St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School
 and Peter Read

Cardiff City soared
From round to round
Chased Chasetown in the ground
Three goals in the net.
With their strip of red
They tamed the bulls of Hereford
Then the charging Wolves appeared
Their wild dogs disappeared
Swallowed by the flying Bluebirds.
Next the Premier came
We pulled them apart
Left, right and in the Middlesborough.
Barnsley came crashing down to earth
As Cardiff stormed them on their way to Wembley.

CFC Sports and Lit 2

The Ninian Park Crowd
Rhos Y Fedwen School and Peter Read

Like a giant swarm of ants
The crushed crowd crawl to Ninian Park.

Yapping, chanting and clapping
Singing the names of City stars.

Air filled with smells of sizzling food
And the fans hope for another win.

Ball squirming from foot to foot,
Players run like a moving work of art.

The crowd are jumping up and down
Like mad, crazy, kangaroos.

Waving scarves, spilling drinks,
Waiting for a goal. At last it comes.

Players celebrate, headless bodies
With shirts over eyes. The crowd roar
Like lions chanting and singing “Bluebirds.”

Peter Read CFC

Football
Pontnewydd Primary School and Peter Read

Like a human chess match
On a green turfed board.
Tactics, hard to work out,
Trying to find the gap,
Moving every player
This way, that way
Forwards, backwards,
Left, right and centre,
Until they find the winning goal.
Goalies spring like leaping frogs,
Wingers run like cheetahs,
Defenders pounce like lions,
Strikers nip in like lightening.
Goalie lies like a fallen king.
Goal. Check mate. The crowd sing.

CFC.

Boxing Beats

The Welsh Valleys have a long history of boxing.  Who can forget Joe Calzaghe’s recent conquests and world titles?  Together with Howard Winstone, he follows in the footsteps of Jim Driscoll, Jimmy Wilde and Thomas Thomas, who put Wales on the boxing map back in the early twentieth century.

In the spring of 2009 Academi and WNO MAX began an innovative project in the Valleys engaging male and female boxers in creative writing and music activities.

In February, March and April 2009 Academi’s South Wales Valleys Literature Development Officer worked with author and former boxerLouise Walsh (Fighting Pretty, Seren 2008).  Louise ran a series of creative journaling sessions based on personal experiences of life and boxing in the Valleys.

Following this, the boxers worked with composer,Peter Swaffer-Reynolds: percussionist, Dave Danford and singers, Katy Trehearne, Laura Pooley and Andy Morton to set their words to music and performance. Rhythm and drums provided the main musical backbeat to the performance. The first performance was staged in the boxing ring at Gelligaer Gym on Tuesday 28 April.

Academi and WNO MAX are both looking for ways of making creative arts part of a routine lifestyle in the way that sport is. Both organisations are trying to unite a love of playing sport with a love for the language and music of sport.

The Boxing Beats project was an imaginative way to connect sport and sport writing. Boxing has a rich history and some fine writers have created great fiction and journalism.  This project has used the boxing knowledge of local practitioners and expressed it on the page and through music.  In a similar way, projects with Scott Quinnell, Surf Cult, and Cardiff City have found ways of describing in words what is often expressed only instinctively and physically.

Louise Walsh said :

“In Boxing Beats three opposite, yet similarly dramatic and powerful class cultures are being brought together to create something entirely original.

“I think the Welsh boxers, Academi and Welsh National Opera will get more out of it than they imagine.

“The Academi and WNO, in encouraging boxers to explore other means of expression, could be surprised by the wealth of personal voices and stories just below the surface of this tough sport.”

Songs:

We Had Good Times

Andrew Bloomer

Bradley smiled at my smile
Because I lost my front teeth
But I think we learnt how to box
Before we learnt how to speak
Though it be tough, it be tough,
We had good times

We were proper live wires
With guts like concrete
But I think we learnt how to box
Before we learnt how to eat
Though it be tough, it be tough,
We had good times

We fought paupers and army
I fought Prince Naseem
But I think we learnt how to box
Before we learnt how to dream
Though it be tough, it be tough,
We had good times

I watched Bradley fight title
Who push-punched him down
Deep into a coma
They said he may not come round
I said Bradley, be tough
We’ll have good times

They lowered his coffin
The weight push-punched me down
Felt battle scarred and worn
Said farewell to Bradley alone
It be tough sometimes, it be tough
To remember the good times.

High Noon

Gary Cooper

They always play the same hand
When I roll into town
And this gunslinger’s burden
It begins to weigh me down

Reputation proceeds me
But I know for sure somehow
That if I weren’t a fighter
They’d have seen me killed by now

My name might be Gary Cooper
But this picture ain’t High Noon

Judge, I say, I’m innocent
I’m asking seriously
A pro fighter on the high street
Town trouble comes to me

But I’ll keep up the fighting
As they seek me out time on time
Devil will have to wait his turn
At the back of this small-town line

And I can’t believe they haven’t learnt the lesson
And I can’t believe they think they’ll win
I can’t get how many times I show ‘em
And it’s still not sinking in

My name might be Gary Cooper
But this picture ain’t High Noon

Judge, I say, I’m innocent
I’m asking seriously
A pro fighter on the high street
Town trouble comes to me

They always play the same hand

When I roll into town
This gunslinger’s burden
It begins to weigh me down

Canvas Blue

Jack Jones

That night
I boxed Keiron Daley
Danced sweeping lines
In slip soled boots
And jabbed and crossed
Three rounds I fought
And three I lost
Left feeling true canvas blue

That night
I couldn’t sleep
Longed for a different outcome
In the inky black
Feeling angry and crossed
At the three rounds I’d fought
And the three that I lost
Left feeling true canvas blue

Last night again
I boxed Keiron Daley
Eight months older
On the canvas blue
Judges dotted and crossed
Of the three rounds we fought
All three Keiron lost
Bet he’s left feeling true canvas blue

Last night
I slept soundly
In comforting, exhausted joy
In the returning night
Trained no matter the cost
So the rematch we fought
Would be three rounds he lost
Left victorious upon true canvas blue.

Welcome Me Home

Lauren Price

I look at my watch and know the register’s called
It’s all been explained and my teacher’s been told
I’m here on the continent as matters unfold
Taking on giants and plundering gold 

I stand and deliver with Amazon Queens
I may be a kid but I’m nobody’s fool
This fearless at this age must be breaking some rule
But I’ll take all your medals and show them at school

But I do wish my grandparents were there in the crowd
It’s for them that I’d fight to the ends of the earth
To the last ends of making them proud

I’m a battle-maid school-girl
And I feel like I’ve grown
And my nana’s hung banners
To welcome me home

I stand and deliver with Amazon Queens
I may be a kid but I’m nobody’s fool
This fearless at this age must be breaking some rule
But I’ll take your all medals and show them at school

But I do wish my grandparents were there in the crowd
It’s for them that I’d fight to the ends of the earth
To the last ends of making them proud

I’m a battle-maid school-girl
And I feel like I’ve grown
And my nana’s hung banners
To welcome me home

There’s Nothing

Keiron Williams

You’re asking for downsides
That’s disloyalty
You get it yourself
You won’t get it through me
There’s nothing not to like about boxing

Now, ask me what I like
And I’ll give you a list
But I’ll not make up
What doesn’t exist

You ask someone else
I’ll not be the key
You get it yourself
You won’t get it through me
There’s nothing not to like about boxing

Now, ask me what I like
And I’ll give you a list
But I’ll not make up
What doesn’t exist

You get it yourself
You can’t get it through me

There’s nothing not to like about boxing

I’m Hooked

Garin Jones

I’m sucking for air in the red stream
Like gold fish, pink salmon
The bell rings
I’m hooked

I wriggle away as
Towelled round
My cheeks are smeared
With thin crimson glue

He holds fast
Stick it to him, son
Keeping this battle raging
What do you feel?
What do I feel?

It hurts and its painful
But I don’t care

I’m sucking for air in the red stream
Like gold fish, pink salmon
The bell rings
I’m hooked.

All Skilled Up Again

CCFC

During April and May 2009 primary schools from the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff and Rhondda Cynon Taff, Caerphilly and the detached youth team of Rhonnda Cynon Taff took part in the second pilot of the All Skilled Up Project. This is an innovative new sports and literature project between Academi, South Wales Valleys Literature Development Initiative and Cardiff City Football in the Community Team.

241 pupils and 30 teachers and support staff visited Ninian Park Football Ground for an inspiring day of football activities and creative writing opportunities. Pupils worked with John Tripp Award Winner, Peter Read to create a new football chant. They also enjoyed a treasure hunt as part of their guided tour around the grounds of the Cardiff City Football club.
Scott Young, Cardiff City said:

“All Skilled Up” is partnership between Cardiff City Football Club Community Foundation and Academi (Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency and Society for Authors).  It is a literacy project aimed at Key Stage 2 children across South Wales and it aims to increase basic skills in reading, writing and speaking, using football as the learning tool.

The Cardiff City Football Club Community Foundation firmly believes that it has a responsibility to the community to aid the development of its youngsters, both physically and educationally.  Using the stature of Cardiff City Football Club and the popularity of playing football, we can play a vital role in the encouragement of youngsters to improve their basic skills.

Each lesson has been developed with local consultants and teachers who have a real interest in Football.  Consequently, the project captures the imagination of the children which has them learning before they even realise it.

Another benefit of a project of this nature is that whilst we are improving children’s basic skills, we are also developing their football skills, fitness levels and teamwork in a fun and safe environment.

Peter Read
Poems

Features of Ninian Park
Palmerston Primary School with Peter Read

Like a live banner
Saying Cardiff City
Towering stands are eyebrows
On the face of the stadium
The lines of lime
Mark the playing surface
Goalposts square as chessboards
As players grab the ball like chess pieces
In the empty ground
No-one hears the clock
Come Saturday, it will tick
The excitement of the game
As the football ping pongs
Across the pitch from foot to foot
Chest to chest, knee to knee
Head to head

The Big Pitch
Oakfield Primary School with Peter Read

The big pitch
An ocean of green
Short, wavy grass
A million squares
Patterned by the grounds man
Into a spongy carpet
Walking through the tunnel
I hear an amazing crowd chant my name
I wave to my twenty thousand fans
Standing to attention for the anthem
The whistle blows.
Past Rinaldo, Rooney, Berbatov
Only Van Der Sar to beat
I see my name in flashing golden lights
And then the teacher shouts
‘It’s time to write a poem’

The Football Speaks
St Mary’s the Virgin Primary with Peter Read

Kick me if you must
But catch me gently goalie
I like to slither through the grass
But only on dry days
Not through the mud and rain
I love hitting the net
As twenty thousand cheer
Kick me in the air
So I can soar in the sky
And dive through the clouds
Throw me if you must
But not out of the ground
Only to the winning team
You’ve always got my trust
The full time whistle blows
My ninety minute job is done
I’m battered, bruised, exhausted
Deflated, waiting to be blown up for another match
Kick me, hit me, throw me if you must
But not so hard that I end up bust

Peter Read

The Crowd
Springwood Primary School with Peter Read

Like waves and seas of colour
The crowd sway
Through oceans of streets
The crowd chant
Ole, Ole, Ole, Cardiff, Cardiff
To fly high to victory
Heads ping pong
From side to side
Eyes glued to the ball
Will he. Won’t he score
Will he keep the ball
The crowd are begging for a goal
They rise up and down
Like a human elevator
At last it’s a goal
Joe Ledley scores
The noise of a stampeding elephant
As the crowd roars

We don’t like it, we love Football
Hafod and Pontygwaith Primary Schools with Peter Read

We don’t like it
We hate football
The same old thing
Passing, dribbling
Sounds like baby games to me

We love football
Running fast as the wind
Like a headless chicken
Seeking the golden ball

We hate the shoving crowds
Loud as crashing symbols
We love the singing crowds
Chanting, cheering
Egging players onto victory

We hate the footballers
Underworked and over paid
For a ninety minute shift
They wouldn’t last a second underground

We love the players
Ledley, Johnson, Chopra
And the rest
Led by Dave Jones
Who is the very best

pETER rEAD

Visiting the Bluebirds Home
Cymmer Primary School with Peter Read

The grass green as emeralds
Chairs filled with excitement
Waiting for footballers to come out to play
Chairs blue as the team and the sea
And white as clouds in the sky
Through the caterpillar tunnel
We see and hear the roaring, joyful crowd
The hungry goals are open mouths
Waiting to be fed by Bluebird strikes
Floodlights huge as the morning sun
Will attract fans and draw them like moths
To Ninian Park

Football is a passion
RCT detached Youth Team and Peter Read

Football is a passion
I live for the love of the game
Kicking with skill, having fun
Until we win the match
We try to respect the ref
Respect the players, the colour of their skin
The Bluebirds fans and other teams

To play the game we must be fit
We give up smoking
Go for the big seven:
Carbs, protein, fat
Fibre, vitamins, minerals and water
You represent your club, yourself
And the game the best you can

At the big match
Anticipation in our fingers
Adrenalin rush through our veins
The tension’s overwhelming
The crowd cheers like a pride of lions
Chanting the Bluebirds names
A global gathering
To watch the mighty City

Joel CCFC

Sounds of Ninian Park
Abertysswg Primary School and Peter Read

Crowds yelling like excited dogs
Wow, Hurray, Yeah
Shaking like leaves on a tree
Laughing like hyenas
When the others miss a goal
Hunting the ball in a pack
Shouting for a goal
Come on shoot, you can do it
Get in there, get stuck in
The player pulls back his leg to shoot
Yes, yes, yes, Ahhh no
They are on the attack again
To the sound of the banging, beating drums
Boom, bash, boosh, crash
Ting tong, whack
It’s a goal
Yeeeeeaaahhh.

The Ninian Park Clock
Fochrhiw Primary School with Peter Read

The clock round as a football
Circular as a face full of fingers
Looks like a giant eye over seats
Blue as a shiny sapphire and the flowing sea
It states the facts of
Kick off, half time and the final whistle
Some fans watch it nervously
Looking at it’s face more than the match
One nil ahead with five minutes to go
Time stretches as slowly as lessons
One goal behind the clock zooms
Faster than jumbo jets or Lamborghinis
This clock face has seen it all
Victories, defeats, promotions, relegations
People crying, people sighing
People jeering, people cheering
Now the season ends
It doesn’t want to be skipped
But hopes to tick in the new season
In a new stadium for
Jerrard, Torrez, Rinaldo and the rest.

Peter Read ccfc.

Sarn Library Project Journey to Porthcawl

Anita
During the Easter Holidays of April 2009, ten local children from Sarn aged 6-14 worked with author, Anita Flowers and artist, Dom Williams to create a series of poems and murals which are permanently displayed in the newly refurbished Sarn Library.

Funding from the Sarn Communities First Team and partnership working with Academi, Bridgend Libraries and Bridgend Arts Development enabled the children to experience three days of creative writing withAnita and four days of painting murals with Dom Williams.

The children worked with Anita Flowers to produce a series of poems about a trip to Porthcawl and Dom Williams encouraged them to draw a series of images to illustrate their writing. The pictures were drawn onto large wooden boards and the children used acrylic paints to complete three colourful murals depicting a journey from Sarn to Porthcawl. Each child was also encouraged to record their poems which were used to create an audio visual DVD as a permanent celebration of the project.

Anita Flowers said:

To capture for a brief moment the elusive, butterfly minds of the children who use Sarn Library was a joy. They were funny, compassionate and creative. This is why I love working in the community.
Dom Williams said:

The group produced something really colourful and fun. Plus everyone had a great time, and I think that’s a very important part of a project like this.
Margaret Griffiths, Children’s Librarian said:

Bridgend Library and Information Service were pleased to co-operate with the South Wales Valleys Literature Development Officer of Academi in this literature and art project for a group of young people in Sarn. The youngsters are regular users of the Centre and the artwork produced will enhance the newly extended library.

Sarn

Poems
We went to Porthcawl Fair
Keighley Jones

We went to Porthcawl Fair
Where the rides went round and round
With the people shouting
To the fairground sound

We went to Porthcawl beach
Where the ballistic sand was blowing
With the sea shore roar
To the waves foaming

We went to Porthcawl beach
Where the tattoo lady worked
With henna…not ink
To have a playboy rabbit drawn in the colour pink

Sarn

Porthcawl
Catrin Jones

People running into the sea
Pants falling down
Underwater bras falling off
In the water seaweed gets caught in swimsuits
Balloons popping
People screaming and yelling on the rides
Hair streaming in the wind
Laughing at the skeletons on the ghost ride
The air smells of dounuts
Nasty whiff of rats and rubbish
Strong aromas of coffee and candy floss
Munching on blood red cheesy burgers
Pulling candy floss through sticky fingers
I had a good day full of adventure.

Sarn 1

We went to Porthcawl Fair
Cameron

We went to Porthcawl fair
And saw donkey rides along the beach
People splashing in the sea
People eating pink candyfloss
Crunchy ready salted crisps
Creamy chocolate ice cream
Sugary jam donuts piping hot
Wet sand moulded into castles
Swimming in cold, blue water
Sharp grey rocks hard to touch
People screaming on the rides
Seagulls crying like babies
Waves splashing against the shore
A day in Porthcawl is always good fun

Sarn

Megaphobia
Christian Jones

I love the rides, all of the rides
Megaphobia’s the best
With megaphobic massive queues
It puts you to the test

Shuffling and shoving
Hurry up, move along
Sweet megaphobic sugar donuts
I’m tired of them playing the same ol’ song

Mouth watering chips, pink rock
Cotton ball candy floss – go on lick it
At last it’s my megaphobic turn
I give the man my ticket

In the front seat I’m up and away
Creeping and spider crawling
With megaphobic fear
Below the sand and sea are sprawling

My eyes are open wide, my hair blown back
Children, women and men
Hands gripping, megaphobic heart beating
Relaxed lazy legs too scared to do it again

Sarn mural

We went to Porthcawl Fair
Shayla

My Nan came on the rides with me
We went high, low and round and round
Up to the sky and down to the ground
The smell of chips wafts through the air
Sweet brown sauce and burgers
Warm, toffee popcorn pops in the machine
Birds squawking and Toby barking
People screaming on the high rides
Wind howling through the rides
Gritty sand, soft against my toes
Cold water climbs up my ankles
Hard, grey and black rocks
Tall rides tower above me
Orange, white sand lies flat below
Arcades like caves lead to the ghost rides

Sarn

We went to Porthcawl beach
Corey

We went to Porthcawl beach
And saw people having fun
On trampolines and rides
I smelled cheeseburgers

We went to Porthcawl beach
And felt some hot air
I can hear people screaming
Like they are dying

Sarn painting

Porthcawl
Tia

We went to Porthcawl
And went on the rides
And went to the beach

We went to Porthcawl
And went in the water
And there was seaweed over their suits

We went to Porthcawl
The kites were blowing
I can smell donuts and burgers
I had a cheeseburger
It was very nice
I went on the ghost ride and I didn’t like it
I went on the beach to fly a kite
I went on the slide and it was fun

Sarn

I went to Porthcawl
Rhys Thomas

People was munching in Porthcawl
People was playing in Porthcawl
People was having fun in Porthcawl
People was screaming on the rides in Porthcawl
People was splashing in the sea in Porthcawl
People was eating donuts by the sea in Porthcawl

Sarn

Porthcawl
Joshua

We went to Porthcawl
I like the fair
And the cold water
On my hair

We went to Porthcawl
I like sitting on the sand
Catching a tan
Eating ice cream
And building castles in the sand

We went to Porthcawl
Where the donkey rides were fun
And we spent a great day in the sun

Dom & Catrin

We went to Porthcawl
Tshireletso

We went to Porthcawl beach
We hear people screaming and laughing from the rides

We went to Porthcawl beach
I could smell cheese burgers

We went to Porthcawl beach
I could see people having fun
On trampolines, jumping up and down

We went to Porthcawl beach
I could touch the hot air

We went to Porthcawl beach
I could taste the warm hotdog

We went to Porthcawl beach

T Sarn.

Adult Learners Week 2009 Greenmeadow Farm

Peter Read
Greenmeadow Farm hosted the first Adult Learners Fair in partnership with Torfaen Learning Alliance on Tuesday 12 May 2009.
Peter Read was poet in residence for the day and encouraged people to contribute to a new group poem exploring farming, history and conservation matters at Greenmeadow Farm, Cwmbran.
Alliteration, rhyme and rhythm were employed by all involved to create a stunning composition exploring the history and current position of the farm and its position in the local community.
The Green Lung
Adult Learners Week participants and Peter Read

The green lung of farm land
Keeps breathing, despite centuries
Of coal, industry and motorway lanes
Whizzing past the town
With fumes which exhaust the sky.
Breathing new life into the ancient earth
Enticing young people
To savour the green fuse of nature,
As they learn to sow the seeds of tomorrow.

Some try to escape
Like the piglets who snuffle
And shuffle away from their mothers
Through thin railinged gaps
Plus three deer, who last year
Just  disappeared.
In a field two rheas
Move heavily and clumsily
Like top heavy, too heavy ballet dancers
Dressed in upside down tutus
All around us we move back to nature
Sheep straggle around a cluttered pen
Parading a biblical pedigree
Through Jacob’s wanderings
While Berkshire pigs
Lead us back to Cromwell’s time.

But we move forward too
For strong shiny teeth
We need calcium from cattle’s milk
For warmth, when winter freezes
Around the house, we hug
The wool farmed from sheep.

We are all linked,
Needing each other,
The green lung
Feeding and protecting the community..

Caerau Ramblers Fun Day

Robert Minhinnick

On Saturday 4 July, the Ramblers Cymru, Academi, Bridgend Regeneration, Valley and Vale and Caerau Communities First joined together for a fun community walking event.

Thirty five adults and children enjoyed a ramble around Caerau collecting images using mobile phones and other digital media during the walk and talking about their movements and thoughts prompted by the changing experience of their neighbourhood.

The group interviewed a broad range of individuals about their wider experiences of the neighbourhood, outdoor activities and patterns of movement. Local author, Robert Minhinnick recorded facts and stories told along the way and produced the piece of writing below.

Valley and Vale provided a number of digital cameras for the young people to take their own pictures of the environment. They also recorded the tour themselves and projected the images in the Caerau Pavilion whilst participants enjoyed refreshments.

Ramblers

The Great Caerau Expedition
July 4 2009

We were a motley crew. Ramblers, councillors, local government and arts officers, the Ogmore MP, his wife and family, schoolchildren, parents, a writer and two police officers left Caerau Parc community centre in bright sunshine, and walked through the estate. The tips of Dyffryn Rhondda were visible to the west, the outline of Pwll yr Hwch, known as ‘The Lion’s Head’, clear in the south west.

Cllr. Steve Smith pointed out that we were close to the underground Caerau Parc reservoir. Also, he said, there was a considerable underground rail tunnel – the ‘Cymer tunnel’ – that ran south-north. This had taken coal and passengers to and from Cymer and Abergwynfi. The train on this tunnel line was known as the ‘Gwdihw’ (the Owl). The tunnel’s northern end in Cymmer is now a turning circle for buses, although the Caerau exit is sealed.

Still the sun shone. But clouds were massing. July’s flowers were all around us, and some people said the tall pink ones were foxgloves. They were right. But there were other tall, pink flowers, called rosebay willowherb all over the mountain slopes.

One of the girls, in foxglove pink herself, said that foxgloves are poisonous. That’s true. Another said that poisonous or not, a Welsh word for foxgloves, ‘Ffion’, is now a popular girl’s name.

The police officers held up traffic for us and our expedition crossed the A4063. Not far away to the north, but hidden by the hills, was Croeserw and the wind turbines. But we turned east and came to the site of the old Blaencaerau Hotel, known as ‘The Monkey’. It was called this, it’s thought, after the ‘powder monkeys’ from Caerau Colliery, men who worked with gunpowder and therefore had special appreciation of a pint.

What a spectacular view we had. The Llynfi Valley spread out to the south, broad and green, narrowing almost to a bottleneck at Nantyffyllon, then widening once more. Mrs Huw Irranca-Davies claimed a bird hovering above us was a red kite. Others, more sceptical, suggested it was a buzzard. But as kites have now been glimpsed in the Garw, perhaps she was correct.

Councillor Smith, a local boy and next Mayor of Maesteg (for 2010), described how he once brought his children to The Monkey in summer for a glass of lemonade and to play outside. We all trooped across the site, but there was not a trace of the burned-down pub. It seemed to several of us that this was a terrible loss, because The Monkey was once a focal point for the community. I think some of us raised an imaginary glass in melancholic salute, and passed on down the new tracks, looking at the tormentil and scabious that grow there now.

Steve Smith, a Caerau man to his fingertips and source of much local lore, said the two spoil heaps at Caerau colliery had been known as ‘Black Amy’ and ‘Billy’s Tip’. They had been removed and there was almost now no evidence that there had ever been a Caerau colliery.

The Afon Llynfi ran, it seemed, straight through the middle of the site. When the coal was being worked, the Llynfi had been black with slurry, but now was clean again, flowing through new culverts. Two miles to the north, beyond our expedition, lay the source of the Llynfi. That is an area where several ancient cairns have been discovered.

The Ramblers described how tracks and cycleways now permit the adventurous to walk from the Afan into the Llynfi Valley, then over to the Rhondda Fawr, or to cross to Blaengarw, and journey south as far as Bryngarw Park. These footpaths, the Ramblers explained, are a fantastic resource that must be used, as on these high slopes or ‘blaenau’, and other mountains, can be found some of the earliest traces of human settlement in the area. (For instance, ‘Y Bwlwarcau’ near Llangynwyd).

The irony was not lost on us. For those prepared to look, there is possibly more evidence of Iron and Bronze Age life than recent landmarks such as the ‘Ivy House’, ‘The Monkey’, and Caerau colliery.

Therefore it was important for the walkers to meet Mr Williams of Bryn Hyfryd, who has a wonderful collection of historic photographs, including several of Caerau Colliery. The Williams garden extended down the hillside, where meadowsweet and evening primrose also flourished.

Walkers described how in 2007 the Llynfi, here only a brook, had ‘disappeared’ into a hole in the riverbank, to re-emerge hundreds of yards downstream. It is thought this hole, now blocked, might have been one of the colliery shafts or ‘voids’.

Caerau colliery opened in 1889. By the 1920s there were almost 2500 men mining steam and house coal, an astonishing figure. The pit was closed in 1977, and thirty years later the site is a very quiet place.

Almost no trace can be found of the immense labour and activity of the miners who once made this mine (in 1913) the most productive in Wales. Without this vanished colliery, the village of Caerau would not exist.

By now, the clouds were black. Some bright spark said it can be sunny in Maesteg but raining in Caerau. Right on cue, the heavens opened, and we were all quickly soaked in the downpour.

There was nothing to do but make our way as best we could back to the community centre. After an excellent indoor barbecue, the intrepid walkers were treated to a slideshow of photographs of their expedition, taken by staff from Valley and Vale. This was a memorable occasion, and perhaps this film could form the basis for another meeting of all those who took part in ‘the Great Caerau Expedition’.

Robert Minhinnick
Robert Minhinnick Caerau

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