2018 Programme

Information on the 2019 Festival program is coming soon!

Thursday 28th June

6.30pm – 9pm “Fish Chips and Poetry Please” in Sblash Caban

Open mike poetry performed by inspired writers and aspiring poets.  You know who you are!

Choose and buy your own dinner and bring your own drinks.


Friday 29th June

FULL 10.30am – 12 noon “A walk with Ronald and Elsi – poetical and botanical”

See the landscape that inspired the poetry, see the wildflowers that inspired the paintings.   Meet at the National Trust carpark on the corner of the road, below the entrance to Plas yn Rhiw.  Sturdy shoes are advised. 1.5 miles distance includes a short steep incline.

2pm – 3.30pm “The Poetic Astronaut of God-Space”

Daniel K Westover, Tennessee.  Author of RS Thomas A Stylistic Biography

A discussion of R. S. Thomas’s poetic style in light of key influences, early and late. How did a late-blooming poet who began as a self-confessed ‘innocent plagiarist’ become one of the most progressive and experimental poetic stylists of his generation? Who were his influences? Where did he find models for how a complex nationalism might manifest itself in verse? And where, at last, did this poetic astronaut of God-space turn when he travelled beyond the edges of the poetic landscape and found existing maps inadequate?

See Presenters page for more details.  Upstairs in the Sailing Club, Aberdaron.

FULL 8pm – 9.15pm “Stations to the Untenanted Cross – A Pilgrimage to Nowhere”

Poetry meditation by candlelight walking inside St Hywyn’s Church.

A poetry meditation by candlelight, whose roots are in the Easter tradition. Moving over the sacred ground, connecting the words of Thomas’s poems to the iconical features inside the ancient pilgrim place, where he was inspired to write “Here on my knees in the stone church, that is full only of the silent congregations of shadows and the sea’s sound.…”

8pm – 9pm “Ah Iago, my friend”  

Glyn Edwards, North Wales, gives voices to muted members of literature

In his forthcoming collection of poetry, Glyn Edwards has given voices to muted members of literature.  He will share how his search to find the illusive voice of Iago Prytherch, in the dozens of poems RS Thomas dedicated to him, took him twenty years and three continents to accomplish.  Members of the audience will be encouraged to share their favourite of RS Thomas’ poems, or read any home-spun verse inspired by his work.  In his role as Trustee of the Terry Hetherington Award, Glyn will also be discussing how new Welsh writers can begin to carve out their own spaces in their country’s literature.

See Presenters page for more details. At Porth y Swnt, National Trust Centre.


Saturday 30th June

10.30am – 12 noon “A strange feeling: Face to Face with Botticelli”

John McEllhenney, Pennsylvania, the story of Elsi Eldridge’s trip to Italy in 1934

No artist is an island: she is part of the continent of art, even if, as is the case with Mildred Elsie Eldridge, she insists on working, as she writes, “alone”. This presentation places Eldridge on art’s mainland, in the British Romantic tradition of William Blake, Samuel Palmer, and their 20th-century followers such as Paul Nash and Eric Ravilious, whose works she studied in the years leading up to 1934. The Royal College of Art travelling scholarship made it possible for her to visit Italy, to be face to face with the masterpieces of Giotto, Donatello, Botticelli, and Michelangelo. How much did they inspire her?

See Presenters page for more details.  Upstairs in the Sailing Club, Aberdaron.

2pm – 3.30pm  “Chameleon Poet”

Sam Perry, Hull University.  The poets that inspired the poet.

Dr Perry’s talk will consider R.S. Thomas’s relationship with the English literary canon. It will shed light upon his early infatuation with the contents of Palgrave’s Golden Treasury, his enduring reverence for the Romantics, his attraction to specific figures like Tennyson, Hardy, Yeats and Edward Thomas, and the creative dialogue he struck up with esteemed contemporaries like Philip Larkin, Geoffrey Hill and Ted Hughes.

See Presenters page for more details.  Upstairs in the Sailing Club, Aberdaron.

6.30pm – 7.30pm Free Buffet Dinner at Porth y Swnt for Members of the Society

8pm – 9pm “More than one Poet in Aberdaron : a Tribute to John Morris by RS Thomas and others”

Garnguwch Welsh Male Voice Choir in St Hywyn’s Church

The choir of young men will perform some of John Morris’s forgotten songs about the people and events in Aberdaron over 50 years ago. Along with a repertoire of familiar Welsh songs this concert  brings back the memory of the tragic death of John Morris the village Headmaster and his pupil David Alun in 1977,  plus the joy in his poetry  set to music, recording the people, places and events around  Aberdaron over 50 years ago.  RS Thomas wrote a short tribute to John Morris in a book celebrating Morris’s Welsh poetry, Tywysog ein Cymdogaeth  published after his death.


Sunday 1st July

11.00am – 12.00pm Eucharist Service, Bangor Cathedral

Bishop Andy John and former Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan

12.30pm – 2pm Buffet Lunch at Pontio Arts Centre 3 minute walk from the Cathedral

2.30pm – 3.30pm “RS Thomas for a new Generation”  Bangor Cathedral

World premiere of Ellen Davies’ orchestral work “Pilgrimages” performed by Ensemble Cymru  with Anne Denholm  the Royal Harpist.  An orchestral composition  inspired by three of RS Thomas’s poems and the landscape of the Llŷn peninsula. Incorporating  the soundscape of sea and shore – bringing the Llŷn to Bangor.

Owen Lowery – The Poet Prevails –  inspired by RS Thomas.  Performing his own work including  “A visit from the ogre”, despite being paralysed from the shoulders down requiring him to use a breathing machine.  [See Presenters page for more information]

Premiere performance of “The Other” set to music by Robert L Moran of Philadelphia.

Cathedral Choir Evensong under the direction of Paul Booth with Ensemble Cymru