Fflur Dafydd at Hay Festival Segovia

Fflur Dafydd at Hay Festival Segovia

This week I started my post as Hay International Fellow 2013-14, first stop; Segovia. I was greeted by the lovely Tiffany Murray, (Hay Fellow 2011-12), and thrown headlong into the usual Hay madness, following the team across the strikingly beautiful city at dusk, chatting away to faces familiar and unknown, having meetings and greetings in near darkness in the wonderful garden of a terrific home overlooking the towers that inspired Disney, having exquisite culinary delights put into my palm, hearing languages cross and collide and bounce across one another, and finally crawling into my bed at around 1am on the first night – which, in Segovian terms, is pathetically early.

The workshop at IE University the next morning was extremely enjoyable. As a creative writing lecturer, I tend to keep my own work out of the classroom – but here, there was an opportunity to introduce Welsh culture and literature to a new audience, and to stress how culture is indelibly bound to the writing methods of many authors, and how it is possible for national icons and landscapes to be considered anew. Some wonderful vignettes were then written by members of the workshop – imprinted on my mind still are the bloodstains at the foot of the Segovian aqueduct, the girl stuck up a tree in the Spanish sunshine, and the criminal in a windowless room, who could not remember her own name; all giving a potent sense of place in their own way.

The next evening included a visit to the Protos winery in the company of novelists and raconteurs Tiffany Murray and Val McDermid, (who also serenaded us all beautifully all the way there and back), and the next day I took part in a fantastic reading in the garden of Romeral de San Marcos, alongside Sangeeta Datta, Marifé Santiago, Ann Bateson and José Félix Valdiveso. This was a reading with a difference – the audience being guided through the beautiful grounds and stopping in various places to hear each author deliver a small nugget of fiction or poetry. I read extracts from my novels and also sang –giving a rendition of Mil Harddach Wyt, a Welsh lullaby, and Y Gwydr Glas, a folk song. The applause for each performer was rapturous – and I was thrilled to be able to leave the audience with a strong sense of my language and its unique rhythms and sounds, which can be communicated so effortlessly through song.

That afternoon, I took part in a wonderful discussion with the hugely inspiring writer Nell Leyshon, moderated brilliantly by Ann Bateson. Nell’s book, The Colour of Milk, has just appeared in Spanish translation, and her writing outlook is certainly in tune with mine – in our conversation with Ann we both stressed that the pram in the hall had never deterred us, but had merely driven us on to realise our writing ambitions. The reading was followed by drinks and an informal storytelling session at La Concepcion bar, in the company of Ann Bateson and travel writer Annie Bennett.

The Fellowship now takes me on to Xalapa, Mexico – for more work-shopping and discussions, and a great opportunity to gather material for my collection of short stories (Small World) – a collection of fictional voices and narratives from across the globe. Muchas gracias, Segovia, for a hugely invigorating festival experience.