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Hay Festival launches programme for emerging Welsh talent

Hay Festival has this week launched Writers at Work, a creative development programme for emerging Welsh talent at Hay Festival 2024 (23 May–2 June) with the support of Literature Wales, funded by Arts Council of Wales.

Offering a fully programmed week of creative development opportunities, Writers at Work allows the selected writers to engage in the main Festival events, to attend masterclasses and workshops with publishers, agents and, crucially, with established international artists.

Writers at Work is a Hay Festival project supported by Literature Wales – the national company for the development of literature – and run by writer Tiffany Murray, whose latest book, My Family and Other Rock Stars, is published in May.

Participants to date have achieved a spread of award wins and shortlistings, including the International Dylan Thomas Prize, Wales Book of the Year, The New Welsh Writing Award, the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, Wales Media Award, Welsh Rising Star Award, and Creative Wales Award.

Established in 2016 to nurture Welsh talent writing in both languages, Writers at Work was paused during the Covid-19 pandemic. 2024 will mark its sixth year.

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “We are delighted to launch our Writers at Work 2024 call-out and offer a programme of activities to meet the challenges Wales’ emerging creatives face today. As our past cohorts continue to shape the cultural landscape in Wales and further afield, we look forward to finding the project’s next selection with Literature Wales.”

Literature Wales Artistic Director Leusa Llewelyn said: 
“We’re excited to be continuing our relationship with Hay Festival to deliver another edition of Writers at Work. Set in the most famous literary festival in the world, this writer development programme brings together the very best visiting writers, editors, publishers and agents with a cohort of exciting emerging Welsh talent to share information, to make connections and to encourage creativity.”

Former recipient Sophie Buchaillard, author of Assimilation, said: 
“Writers at Work was an incredible opportunity to learn from some of the best names in the sector, attend fascinating talks, showcase my writing at the Hay Festival and develop a supportive community of friends and fellow writers.”

Former participant Taz Rahman, author of East of the Sun West of the Moon, said: 
“The writing part is the loneliest business – like a long-distance runner tingling in the stiffest breeze. Unique opportunities such as the Hay Festival Writers at Work programme mixes creative endeavours with knowledge of the writing world, allowing the writer to travel further in ways as yet unimagined.”

Former participant Emma Smith, author of And I Hear Dragons, said: “Being a part of Hay Festival Writers at Work last year was magical and transformative. After nine days immersed in workshops and events (and sunshine!), learning from leading writers such as Douglas Stuart, Max Porter, and Kit de Waal, I came away a different writer: more focused, ready to challenge myself creatively, and perhaps most importantly, more connected. It was just what I needed following the pandemic. I have since completed my second novel and my first children’s poem will be published by Firefly Press in And I Hear Dragons – a collection edited by National Poet of Wales Hanan Issa which hits the shelves later this year. Don’t hesitate to apply; I can’t recommend it enough!”

Former recipient Louise Mumford, author of Sleepless, said: “Hay Festival Writers at Work scheme has been a real highlight of my writing career so far! The programme designed for us was brilliant: excellent workshops and talks from incredible speakers, concerning craft, skills, writing life and the publishing industry in general. I have come away from the course with a whole new community of writers I am in regular contact with now and a new arsenal of knowledge and confidence to use in the years ahead. Thanks Hay Festival Writers at Work!”

Hay Festival is the world’s leading festival of ideas, bringing readers and writers together in sustainable events to inspire, examine and entertain on the edge of the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park. Providing exciting new platforms to discover fresh ideas, Hay Festival invites audiences to imagine the world as it is and as it might be. It is a catalyst for change and action, open and accessible to all.

This spring’s programme launches the best new fiction and non-fiction, while offering insights and debate around significant global issues. Award-winning writers, policy makers, pioneers and innovators take part from around the world, offering big thinking and bold ideas.

30 earlybird events are on sale now, offering a promise of fresh thinking, dynamic performances and diverse voices. Confirmed speakers include novelists Colm Tóibín, Marlon James, Jeanette Winterson and Andrey Kurkov; environmentalist George Monbiot; podcaster Rory Stewart; comedians Julian Clary and Sara Pascoe; poet Hollie McNish; musician Jools Holland; and actors Miriam Margolyes; and Lenny Henry.

Meanwhile, Festival events further afield are already in full swing. This month, there are Hay Festival editions in Jericó, Medellín and Cartagena, Colombia, and Panama City, and Hay Forum Seville in Spain takes place in March. Closer to home, Hay Festival Scribblers Tour is currently taking writers direct to schools across Wales in free events, finishing in February.

Open to writers working in English and Welsh across genres – fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry – applications are now open at https://www.hayfestival.com/wales/writers-at-work/.

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