Author Archives: Eluned

Newbridge Inclusion Centre

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Rap Project with Rufus Mufasa and Patrick Jones

Working with 8 young people (ages 13-16) at Newbridge Inclusion Centre, poet Patrick Jones and rapper Rufus Mufasa created a series of rap and spoken word compositions over a period of just six weeks.

The centre is a specialist educational facility provided for students with a history of challenging behaviour in the classroom; not just at Newbridge, but all schools in Caerphilly County Borough. The young people are mentored and encouraged by a group of committed teachers and staff, including Deputy Head Tony Gallagher. Himself an actor and performer with a passion for script-writing, Tony Gallagher is keen to encourage creative activities for the students of the centre, to improve their aspiration, confidence and learning skills.

“I Am Special as a Diamond that Shines Bright like the Universe”

The young people’s words – link below – were recorded and put to a beat by Rufus Mufasa and Jamey Peace, before being shared at a presentation ceremony at Newbridge School in July 2015.

Here’s a sneak-peak of the lyrics:

“Boxing in the ring

Makes me want to sing

I’m going to be the champion

I’m going to be the king.”

“I’m too good for this game

I’m like a special star

Shining in the sky

Not so far

I’m far off like lightning

Everyday I’m so frightening

I’m one thing; I’m exciting”

“My name is Jack

And I am a sprat

And everybody says I look like that

Is a skunk; is a punk,

Is a dirty little one

Look at him standing there

[…] Two feet tall

Look at this one-inch wonder

Looks like a sign of thunder…”

“I am all that I wish for

Winning the lottery

Dad coming home

Getting on well with my brother.”

Short Story Masterclass

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Ioan Kidd, winner of Wales Book of the Year 2014, led two session masterclass on the short story in Pontardawe Library. The long-running Pontardawe Book Club has been a literary fixture in the life of Pontardawe, but this is the first time the group has participated in a creative writing workshop.

Ioan Kidd shared the process of writing and publishing his award-winning novel, Dewis (‘Choice’) with the group, before going on to compare the styles and skills necessary to write shorter fiction, as in his previous collection ‘O cyrion’. Sharing insights into the art of fiction, Ioan Kidd inspired the class to turn their hand to some creative writing themselves. With some advice from the author, members wrote the opening to their own short story:

One of the members, Ann Rosser, said: “[The workshops] were a very valuable experience…to hear about the process of creating a novel and the work that went behind it was an inspiration to us all.”

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Creative Writing for Welsh Learners

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Together with Torfaen Arts Development and Coleg Gwent Pontypool, a group of adult Welsh learners broke free of grammar books, textbooks, and vocab tests for a month. Instead, they had the chance to write in Welsh for fun. The poet and Bardd Plant Aneirin Karadog and novelist Gwennan Evans led two workshops each – one focusing on rhymes and rhythm, the other on prose and storytelling. It was an opportunity to break free from the usual strictures of language learning and use what they had learnt in new and imaginative ways.

Mair Turner of Coleg Gwent said: “Our learners succeeded in creating some great stuff!”

Here’s a taster:

Un peth cwl am Bontypwl

Coleg Gwent wrth gwrs

Cartref adran iaith y nefoed

Calonogi pawb i gynnal sgwrs

Ac yn yr Haf dwy fil a phymtheg oedd

Ffynnon o Gymraeg farddonol.

Place & Storytelling

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Poet, performer and script-writer Emily Hinshelwood led a whole day workshop with 18 young people at Cwmtawe Community School on their last day of term 2015. The students, who were selected on the grounds of their interest in creative writing (many of them members of the school’s regular Creative Writing Club), ranged from 12-14 years of age. They donned boots and anoraks, clutched clipboards, and pocketed their imagination for a fiction-infused walk.

With encouragement and guidance from Emily, the young people devised their own characters in the classroom, before taking their characters with them on the tour through fields and gardens near the school. The idea was to put themselves in their character’s shoes, and to see the details of the natural world through their eyes.

Back in the classroom, the atmosphere was one of intense concentration as they penned their impressions. They all left the classroom with the beginning of a story, ready to grow and develop during the summer. Here are some examples of their work:


The clouds gathered in the clear blue sky and the world started to turn cold, almost eerie. The happiness drained out of me like I was emptied by a plug. I started to shiver in the cold water and felt scared and worried. A bead of sweat trickled down my face. By Isabelle Lake

Hell. What a place! Happy devils, horrified humans and also my favourite – the pits of despair with its orange glow. Looking at it is painful to the eyes, humans find it horrifying. I find it mesmerising. It could burn down everything into nothing in seconds, because it is so scorching. Anon

It was a hot, humid summer morning as I set off for school. I smiled happily as I looked down at the drying up puddles. My aqua blue trainers splashed into the puddles disrupting the calm surface. Birds chirped in the swaying trees. I stepped by one puddle next to an uprooted oak tree. I stared meekly at my reflection. My sky blue eyes were filled with hope. My black hair swayed in the breeze. I pulled up the hood of my jet black hoody and strolled towards school. By Ciaran Sullivan (Aged 13)

He plunged his knife into the man’s stomach, trying to preserve this beautiful expansion. He looked up from the dead man to the villagers from where he lived staring back at him. Before they or he himself could react, he raced back into the foliage, his scarred-face friend was by him as well, running. Ajay Bater (Aged 13)

I came to the UK in 1995. When I came I learnt from my father how to pickpocket and steal. My name is Simon and I have black hair, blue eyes and I am a thief. My father was arrested two days ago but I escaped. Usually in the morning I will steal bread. As I was going out of the store I saw a big brown satchel on someone’s back. So I slowly unzipped the bag and stole an iPhone 6. I did it so I started running and as I ran I realised there’s someone after me. So a few hours with the bread I stoke I tried to unlock the iPhone 6 in the wet, bug-infested bush. As I did this I fell asleep: I woke to a voice. It’s my dad on a motorbike. My dad told me to get on and go, so I listened. As I did this I realised that I was in the forest, but I soon realised that I was in a peaceful forest. But this was not my dad. He put a sock on my head and said he’s taking me somewhere. Anon.

I first went out for a walk to calm me down, but it led to a tragedy. Let me tell you about it. I started to walk along the canal. I could hear the birds tweeting and lots of loud construction noises. I came across a big, bright, tall yellow flower. Around it was tall spiky green grass, just on it’s own, no other flowers surrounding it. I was about to pick a flower but something caught my eye in the tall grass. A big black duffle bag. I thought to myself, “should I be nosy and look at it?” I looked around. No one was near me. “Why not?” I thought. I picked up the duffel bag. It was heavy. I brought it over to a private area. I tried to open it. Inside was a big amount of money. At least 100,000 pounds, probably more. Harry Thyer (Aged 13)

That same day the buff man who was named ‘The Tiger’ due to his bright orange hair; made me go out with him to the gorge. He wore a tracksuit and some kind of belt with electronics on it. I had to sprint a hundred meters. I did it in 14 seconds. ‘The Tiger’ said that if I wanted to compete in the Olympics my time had to improve. By Jaden Maskell-Beynon (Aged 12)

I raced across the path as fast as my legs could carry me. All I could hear was my own beating heart screaming at me to stop. By Jorja Mould

I arrived home after school only to be greeted by rubble, dust and destruction. I gasped in horror as I saw my house in pieces on the floor. While looking around I noticed I couldn’t find my parents anywhere. Letting out a sigh I pulled my waist length, jet black hair into a pony tail. I looked into part of a mirror and started talking to myself, “Why am I so different from everybody else, like I have bright purple eyes, sharp teeth, I hate being Inside and my parents – I said I had a different connection with a nature.” By Heather Brown (Aged 12)

Another flashback from the time she’d met her master. “That was two months ago and I’m falling deeper in love with him,” she thought, turning scarlet. Gwen now wore a simple red maid’s dress; a tartan cardigan and knee-high boots. Her hair was now down to her shoulders. She enjoyed serving Roderick as a maid. She saw flowers blooming at her side. She felt calm. “Tranquillity and peace. These are the emotions I feel when I’m with Roderick,” she thought, smiling and a blush still visible on her cheeks. She then brushed her beautiful, flowing brown hair. Emily Jenkins (Aged 13)

Everything was my brother’s fault. He wrecked everything. I remember every little detail. I just couldn’t get this image out of my head. “I wonder if I’ll survive this,” I muttered to myself. I happened to glance to my left. I noticed people playing team sports. I could hear the distinct tweets. The birds were singing. The smell of flowers in the mystical field. The taste of honey stung me like a wasp. I could feel something furry next to my leg. It appeared to be a little badge. I must’ve acted immediately, because the next thing I remembered was the badger in my arms. Lucy Richards (Aged 12)

I was sitting on a large old bench drowning in thick layers of moss and mould. I could hear the damp wooden legs creak in protest. The sound slicing like a knife through the deafening silence. I felt a leaf gently brush against my rosy cheek. I looked up to see a huge oak tree towering over me, its branches swaying in the wind like arms. By Carys Williams (Aged 12)

Darkness. That was all she could see. Tina flocked her long black hair as she walked down the path. She felt like the path was leading her nowhere. Then she heard the river, rushing through, which made her afraid that something was going to happen. She suddenly looked in the river at her reflection. Her blue streak in her hair was fading away. Tina’s sea blue eyes were glistening by the moon’s brightness. Katie Jenkins (Aged 12)

As I sprinted down the road, I came to a russet brown, dusty, dirt pathway. The orchard and meadow rye grass swayed as the gentle sea breeze swept across the endless fields. Looming willow and moss-coloured ash trees cast shadows, making my skin shudder as I strode through the cooling shade. The soft trickle of the river beckoned me, tempting me to run my fingers through the shimmering water, like soft silky hair. By Chantale Davies. (Aged 13)

After throwing the witness’s body into the incinerator, Amethyst turned around to see something shocking. Senpai was standing right behind her. “What the hell are you doing?” asked Senpai. “Wait!” replied Amethyst. “It’s not what it looks like!” Without hesitation, she stabbed Senpai with the syringe and dragged him to his classroom when no one was looking. “It was all a dream,” said Amethyst. “Just a dream.” Oliver Jones (Aged 13)

It was a bright vibrant day after the rain storm the other day. When Mike was walking through the Archwood forest where he would walk every day. He would always notice that there were no animals in the forest or even bird song but when he thought he saw an animals he wouldn’t’[t be able to find it a second later which he would be quite used to so he would just be carrying on walking. The next day he found something very exciting, he found a large dog or cat print but it had three toes which was quite odd. “Yo, Mike!” yelled a voice in the distance. “Oh, hi Brad, how did you know I’d be here?” “You’re always out here! Anyway what are you looking at?” “Oh, it’s a paw print.” Anon

One day I walked into a wood. I saw loads of trees, flowers, spiky flowers, people and butterflies. Then I heard an alarm go. I was scared and I did not know what to do. Suddenly I fell down as if I’d landed in the woods. I could heard screaming and people were shouting E-M-I-L-Y. What? Who’s there? And how do you know my name? I am a ghost. I know everybody’s name including yours, which is Emily. Then she went off dancing and then someone pulled Emily back into the woods and she let go of the ghost and then she fall back into the grass. She found a little puppy. They lived happily ever after. The end. Rachel Harris (Aged 12)

Young Travellers’ Stories

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Following a month of song-writing with EU Roma children in Newport, rapper and poet Rufus Mufasa went on to work with a small group of Welsh travellers based in West Monmouth School, Pontypool. Although it is currently traveling season, and many of the young people are on the move with their families, six boys and girls aged 14-16 took part in three creative writing workshops as part of Torfaen Youth Forum’s Gypsy and Traveller programme. The focus was on telling their story and narrating their cultural and family history as part of a long-term book project.

Rufus began with asking the young people about their likes and dislikes; the things which they are passionate about. Animals featured heavily in their writing, including pet hawks, donkeys, ponies, dogs and chickens. The outdoors and green landscape up the road from West Mon set the stage for favourite hobbies such as running and going on the pony and trap; and the difference between a caravan and a trailer; a gypsy and a gorger (non-traveller).

Rufus went on to develop their words with the help of an animator; the short films will be published in the coming weeks.

An Equal Voice is a Gypsy and Traveler Youth project established in 2010 between Torfaen Youth Forum and West Monmouth School. West Mon has 35 gypsy travelers attending and the group offers support to help them integrate into the school and into post 16 education; it offers a specialist classroom with additional support for the young people, making it more likely that these students will leave school with qualifications.

Love, Hate and Bookmaking

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Boys at Glan-y-Nant Learning Centre, Pengam, took part in a six week print and bookmaking workshop with poet and artist Francesca Kay. Aged between 6-11 years old, the boys made beautiful booklets by hand in which they listed their loves and hates, illustrating them with pieces of writing, prints and photographs. ‘Loves’ included fishing, chocolate milkshakes, and English. Dislikes included siblings driving you “up the wall”, noisy lorries, squeaky trains and people going up the slide the wrong way.

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The workshops were organised by Caerphilly Arts Development and Literature Wales’ South Wales Literature Development Initiative. The Glan-y-Nant Learning Centre is a pupil referral unit, which provides alternative learning provision for children with challenging behaviour. The children, some of whom struggle with key literacy skills, found a love of writing through a combination of visual art, craft and print-making. At the end of six weeks, they are all the authors of their very own book.

Showcase Celebration

Bethel Community Centre. Image © Sarah Goodey

For eight years, the South Wales Literature Development Initiative has been spreading the love of reading and writing across south Wales. Literature Wales’ flagship outreach celebrated the hard work and creative flair of communities and individuals in the south Wales Valleys in a showcase event at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, with a talk by Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport Ken Skates AM.

Since August 2007, the South Wales Literature Development Initiative (SWLDI) has offered a variety of creative experiences based on the written word to those who may not have had any contact with mainstream arts and culture before. From young people at risk of exclusion to those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, SWLDI invites authors, poets and spoken-word artists to lead workshops, inspire participants and spread the love for reading and writing.

Deputy Minister Ken Skates AM

Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport Ken Skates AM said: “I am very pleased to support the work of Literature Wales and the South Wales Literature Project – a project that truly reflects the organisation’s motto that literature is for everyone and can be found everywhere. This project has demonstrated the power of literature and arts to improve quality of life and inspire individual creativity […]I hope it will continue to engage and inspire and that, in the near future, we’ll see the next Gillian Clarke or Owen Sheers emerge from it.”

The showcase event at the Senedd included diverse performances from some of the workshops this year.  Highlights included, a group of 14-16 year olds with minority ethnic backgrounds from Port Talbot, reading their monologues on ‘Identity’; a word and poetry display created by the residents of Barry’s Extra Care Unit, Golau Caredig, focussing on their memories of Barry; poetry read by female refugees from Newport; a celebration of a published children’s book – Petra the Penguin – written by young mothers from Caerphilly; and  rap and lyric songs from Lewis School and young adults in sheltered accommodation from Torfaen.

Lleucu Siencyn CEO

Lleucu Siencyn CEO

Chief Executive of Literature Wales, Lleucu Siencyn, said: “I’m delighted to celebrate the successes of the South Wales Literature Initiative. Literature does not belong to the elite – it belongs to anyone who uses and loves languages. Whether it is through comic books or song-writing or reminiscing about the past, this project has given people from traditionally deprived areas to access the arts and express themselves creatively.”

The project has worked in over 10 local authorities in South Wales, and now mainly focuses its activities in five: Caerphilly, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan. Here, Literature Wales teams up with local arts and library teams to organise creative activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Writers and poets have gone into schools, libraries, care homes, mental health wards, boxing halls, train stations, hospitals, inclusion centres (to name only a few venues) to lead  workshops and inspire creative expression in others. Catherine Fisher, Ioan Kidd, Huw Aaron, Tom Anderson, Mike Church, Rufus Mufasa, Patrick Jones, Francesca Kay and Gillian Clarke are just some of those who have been a part of realising Literature Wales’ belief that ‘literature is for everyone’.

Photographs are courtesy of Sarah Goodey

Bettws in Bloom

Untitled-1Mufasa, Rufus

Young people from the Bettws in Bloom project, Newport, have been enjoying eight weeks of rap and poetry workshops with Cardiff-based performance poet Zaru Johnson and bilingual rapper Rufus Mufasa. ‘Bettws in Bloom’ offers alternative provision for students from Newport High School. The young people, aged 14 to 18, tackled many topics in the form of rap – including their hometown Bettws (“Bettws/rhymes with ‘Lettuce'”), their friends, relationships, musicians, rappers, as well as drugs and alcohol. Their lyrics were put to a backing beat and made into an EP – Bettws in Bloom. Please click on the link below to hear the songs:

Ty Hapus 2015

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April 2015 saw Patrick Jones returning to Ty Hapus, Barry, to lead a series of workshops focusing on Musical Memories’. Ty Hapus Alzheimer Society is a unique initiative set up to provide care and support for those living with early on-set Dementia: it’s a safe and quiet space where those with dementia and their families can enjoy to have a cup of tea and a chat, play board games, read newspapers, or visit the ‘beauty salon’ and get their hair and nails done. Ty Hapus also organise and offer activities to their visitors.

‘Musical Memories’ followed on from 2014 poetry sessions with Patrick. This time there was a focus on favourite songs and bands: including a shared love for The Beatles and Motown, as well as stories of going to all sorts of music concerts.

Six participants along with their families and support workers at Ty Hapus developed a series of poems, one of which – ‘In My Pocket’ – will be put to music.

IN MY POCKET

In my pocket

is a piece of coal.

I hold it tight,

I see the coal fire,

my father making it up before work,

giving us heat and light.

In my pocket

is the strike of 1984,

this was our civil war,

my mam with a pram

full of coal,

pushing up our street

to warm our tired souls.

In my pocket,

the sound of the coal tipping,

Barry Docks

held in my mind

like a newspaper clipping.

In my pocket

is the best ever toast

butter dripping

its the simple things we remember the most

IN MY POCKET

MY MEMORIES ARE STILL ALIVE

IN MY POCKET

NOT READY TO SAY GOODBYE

IN MY POCKET

COME, WALK WITH ME SIDE BY SIDE

And in my pocket

is The Beatles’ ‘She loves you’

playing at my Nanna’s on the radiogram in Splott,

where she’d give you all that’s she’s got

‘she loves you’ so true.

In my pocket,

my memory is dancing

All night in Wigan

or at The New Moon Club The Hayes,

girls drinking Newcastle Brown Ale,

and in our pockets,

the trip to Barry Island

seemed like a million miles away,

seemed like the sun shone like diamonds.

I remember how the mothers

would make a circle with their deckchairs,

and all the kids would play safely there,

and we could either have Rock or Candyfloss

before we left,

MMMM I can still smell that salty air.

In my pocket

I carry them carefully

the ghost train, log flume,

banana boats,

pop and crisps at The Mermaid Hotel.

When I get lonely,

the sadness it dispels.

I see them all now,

all the people and places like silk next to skin.

In my pocket

waiting for my dad’s ship to come in

IN MY POCKET

MY MEMORIES ARE STILL ALIVE

IN MY POCKET

NOT READY TO SAY GOODBYE

IN MY POCKET

COME, WALK WITH ME SIDE BY SIDE

By Annie, Lynne, Julia, Alison and Michael

A BELL RINGS

Makes me think of Dr Cameron- sunday night – watching TV,

the end of playtime – back to sums,

the sound of school,

a sad but happy sound.

It reminds me of Uncle Keith.

He was ill and was sleeping downstairs

and used to ring a bell if he needed

anything

and used to wind us up with his bell!

The sound reminds me of

the Ice Cream Van in Porth,

and as I had 4 brothers

I had to run fast to get there first

threepence each.

Happy times

listening out for those ice cream chimes!

It could be church

or being naughty in school

or

London bells ringing

oranges and lemons say the bells of Saint Clements.

Like a school clock

or

Chris,

does it remind you of Barry Docks?

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

Cold snow smog,

Abercwmboi or London,

a memory or a dream?

The best ever present from Grandad,

a homemade Dalek

brought on top of his car.

Boy if you could have seen my face beam.

Christmas time.

We had 8 children,

my mum cooked

gave us the best she could,

she was one in a billion.

My father took us

to Carrefour in a van,

massive foodshop but it would all disappear

before the holidays even began.

A favourite present was a pair of earrings.

My Dad was a merchant seaman

and had three daughters.

He would come home back from Japan

and the best present ever

walking dolls as tall as us

a memory that’ll stay forever.

Christmas meant monopoly.

We always knew the big day was near,

the club was closed

so my dad would bring

Flagons of Brains beer,

and we’d bring the kitchen table

into the dining room

and play monopoly, (oh dear….what doom),

how I tried to

file for bankruptcy it went on and on,

long after the snow had gone.

Best ever present a red and white bobble hat,

my mam had knitted it with lov,e such an endeavour

and I,

I wore it forever

WORDS

The smell of the chippy

as kids,

gravy,

happy memories.

The smell of my garden

in Summer

with the children.

Always loved the smell of perfume,

Chanel,

when I worked for British Coal.

The smell of a new baby-

pure

like a fresh start

PLACES

Solva, I grew up there.

I remember the beach going crabbing in the rockpools

A special place for me

was Port Talbot.

I worked there for British Coal,

had a marvelous time,

until Margaret Thatcher came along!

My beach hut off the Isle of Wight,

with the children playing on the beach,

happy memories,

going to France for our holidays

drinking wine driving and eating bread and cheese

lovely times

TO STAND and STARE

(after listening to Leisure by W H DAVIES)

To watch the birds

fascinating as they

are so small

gathering their nuts and

twigs for their nests

it is as if they are

looking

and thinking

“Mm, I’ll have that one”.

I like to sit down

and wait.

Love the garden too

full of things to see.

Love to watch the water crashing on rocks

craggy shorelines

wild weather.

The sea,

calm,

gently rippling.

Beautiful Bruises

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Beautiful Bruises: Hales House Song-Writing Project

Thanks to funding from the Rhys Davies Trust, the poet and singer Rhian Edwards led a number of song-writing sessions at Hales House, Pontypool – a sheltered housing scheme for young people aged 16-24 – from the end of March to May 2015. Their communal living room became the stage for a month of poetry, singing and music-making. Armed with two ukulele (that’s a very, very small guitar), keyboard and flip-chart, Rhian helped develop a love-song with a group of 12 talented young people. The lyrics and ideas came from a mixture of personal experiences and group discussion, starting with an exploration of what makes a good song. Individuals contributed their own lines, and showcased their own raps and poetry along the way.

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Butterfly Bruises

Stalked me online

You had me at ‘Hi’

Liked your geeky glasses

And the pain behind your eyes

We shared the same history

Took the blur from my tears

We crawled from the corners

And our shyness disappears

Chorus: Butterfly Bruises / Engraved in my heart / Butterfly Bruises / Scarred and left me in the dark

I can’t seem to focus

A war rages in our home

You explode at every trigger

Break my body, leave me numb

Chorus: Butterfly Bruises / Engraved in my heart / Butterfly Bruises / Scarred and left me in the dark