By Jon Gower
Literature is one of the most respected art forms in the land, and the Welsh language has generated a remarkable body of work, not least poetry written in cynghanedd, a form of strict metre verse which has been described by the Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry as ‘the most sophisticated system of poetic sound-patterning practised in any poetry in the world’. Magazines such as the quarterly New Welsh Review and Planet present the work of many Welsh writers, established and emerging, and Welsh language publications such as Barn do the same in Wales’ senior tongue.
Wales is home to the Hay Festival, arguably of the UK’s most successful literary events. Bill Clinton dubbed it the "Woodstock of the mind" and as a festival it has now branched out, not only to cover other cultural forms but also to become a cultural brand in its own right, having spawned highly successful sister festivals in such places as Nairobi, Cartagena, Grenada, Zapateca and Beirut. The latest addition to the literary calendar, the Laugharne Festival, uses the picture-book setting of a town set on the edge of an estuary, filled with connections with Dylan Thomas, arguably Wales’ most famous literary son, to create an intimate and joyous celebration of words and music. If you’re interested in great Welsh writing check out the novels of Niall Griffiths, the travel writing of Jan Morris, anything by Jim Perrin, the sublime essays of Robert Minhinnick, Nia Wyn’s emotionally devastating memoir Blue Sky July or the poetry of Damien Walford Davies, Dannie Abse, Gwyneth Lewis or Gillian Clarke.