There are numerous conflicting prognoses of Wales’ future, but in the present moment we know this much to be true: almost a third of children in Wales live in poverty; the rollout of the UK government’s latest punitive welfare regime will affect a third of Welsh households; a post-industrial plague of scarce, low-quality employment is leaving whole swathes of the country without basic means of survival. Within weeks, this same country can go to the polls and help hand power to a Labour government with the means and will to fundamentally reverse many of the political choices that have led to such cruelty. Whatever one’s long-term political project, this is not an opportunity to be spurned lightly.
To live and grow up in Newport is to be irrevocably intertwined with the historical forces that built this city. Symbols of the past are etched into the landscape: what we might call our ‘industrial heritage’ is all around us. But these totems are not fossilised relics, and they’re not engaged with passively: they’re the milieu of our everyday life.
This shouldn’t be what ‘bilingualism’ is. ‘Bilingualism’ should have the confidence to give our institutions one name that everybody is empowered to use; not concocting a situation whereby two languages live parallel lives and never intersect.
If liberal politicians and media figures are to be believed, the most alarming phenomenon of contemporary British politics is an increasing polarisation and ‘political tribalism’, exacerbated on the right by the Brexit crisis, and on the left by the political possibilities introduced to popular discourse following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader. While often crudely labelled as a ‘populism’ in which the left and right are equal actors, what we are actually seeing here is the struggle for revived and emergent political movements to channel widespread-yet-inchoate demands into a tangible mandate for government.
We write as people who are not fluent Welsh-speakers to call on you to rename the National Assembly with the Welsh-only name “Senedd”.
We, as much as other people, want to see the Welsh language flourish and wish to see and hear it in our daily lives. We believe that giving our democratic body in Wales a Welsh name would send a message that the Welsh language belongs to everyone regardless of their background.
If there’s a common thread running through Parthian’s four new collections, it is the relationship between the universal and the particular; specifically, the sense of community solidarity generated through shared surroundings and individual experiences.
It is as clear now as 50 years ago: Welsh literature of any mode will never attain any cultural capital within the wider UK. There is, however, an ironic power in this. While the fragility of a culture under perennial threat is obvious to anyone invested in it, that it holds no value for a wider hegemonic literary culture is the very element which makes it so vital. We have our own literary culture, separate from and subversive to that which threatens it.