2022 Presenters

Philip Gross

Philip Gross has published over twenty collections of poetry, including The Water Table, which won the T.S. Eliot Prize 2009, and a new collection, Between the Islands, from Bloodaxe in March 2020. He received a Cholmondeley Award in 2017, and his science-based collection for young people, Dark Sky Park (Otter-Barry, 2018) was shortlisted for the CLiPPA prize. He is a keen collaborator, e.g. with artist Valerie Coffin Price on A Fold in the River (Seren, 2015), with poet Lesley Saunders on A Part of the Main (Mulfran, 2018) and currently with Welsh-language bardd Cyril Jones. www.philipgross.co.uk

John McEllhenney

John McEllhenney from Pennsylvania is a retired Methodist minister, trained historian, and lover of poetry and art, began reading the poems of R S Thomas in 1973. He visited RS three times in the 1990s and published A Masterwork of Doubting-Belief: R. S. Thomas and His Poetry in 2013. Recently, he turned his attention to Thomas’s wife, the artist Mildred Elsie Eldridge. This focus led to a research trip to Italy in October 2017, during which he looked at art works that Eldridge studied in in Florence, Assisi, and Ravenna in 1934. He has co-created a website dedicated to the life and work of ME Eldridge. www.meeldridge.com

Mark Pryce

Mark Pryce is Director of Ministry for Birmingham Diocese, and Chaplain to The Queen. Originally from Wales, Mark served as Curate and Hospital Chaplain in West Bromwich, Fellow and Dean of Chapel of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and Vicar of Smethwick Old Church. He is a member of The Diviners, a group of theologian-poets with whom he co-authored Making Nothing Happen [2017]. He regularly lectures on The Welsh Poet-Priests [including RS Thomas], exploring connections between poetry, spirituality and the practice of ministry. His most recent book is Poetry, Practical Theology & Reflective Practice. [2019]

Mark Oakley

Mark Oakley is Dean of St John’s College, Cambridge, and a former residentiary canon of St Paul’s Cathedral (London). He served as Rector of St Paul’s Covent Garden (the Actors’ church); he is Deputy Priest in Ordinary to HM the Queen, and a Visiting Lecturer at King’s College, London and Visiting Scholar at Sarum College, Salisbury. His writings and broadcasts explore poetry, spirituality, and human rights. His books The Collage of God (2001) and The Splash of Words: Believing in Poetry (2016), winner of the 2019 Michael Ramsey Prize for theological writing, were recently the top two selling books of The Church Times along with his publication of 50 sermons By Way of the Heart [2019]. His latest book is My Sour-Sweet Days: George Herbert and the Journey of the Soul (2019). In 2021 he was given the most prestigious award of Fellowship by King’s College London. In 2022 was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) by Bangor University. One of his supervisors, Professor Emerita Helen Wilcox has been a speaker at this Festival.

Manon Ceridwen James

Manon Ceridwen James was one of the first women to be ordained in the Church in Wales.  Welsh speaking, she was brought up on the Llŷn Peninsula. She is Dean for Initial Ministerial Training for St Padarn’s Institute, with responsibility for training lay and ordained ministers in the Church in Wales.  Her poetry has been published in Poetry Wales, Envoi, Under the Radar and Obsessed with Pipework. She is the author of Women, Identity and Religion in Wales [2018] and has also contributed several chapters for edited collections on poetry, theology and feminist research.

Jon Gower

John Gower. Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru, Wrecsam. 2011

Jon Gower is a former BBC Wales arts and media correspondent, and author of thirty books. The Story of Wales, which accompanied the landmark TV series; An Island Called Smith was awarded the John Morgan Travel Writing Prize. Y Storïwr won the Wales Book of the Year Award. He has made two radio programmes about his occasional birdwatching companion RS Thomas, in particular Radio 3’s R.S. Thomas: Always Seeking Greater Silence [2013], which draws on interviews conducted whilst birdwatching and at the poet’s home on Anglesey in the late 1990s. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01r5n6g

Tony Brown

Tony Brown is Professor Emeritus in the School of English at Bangor University and Co-Director of the R.S. Thomas Study Centre. He has published extensively in the field of Welsh writing in English. He was the founding editor of the journal Welsh Writing in English: A Yearbook of Critical Essays (1995-2007). Publications on R.S. Thomas extend over some thirty years and include R.S. Thomas (U. of Wales P, 2006 & 2013) He and Jason Walford Davies published R. S. Thomas’s Uncollected Poems (2013) and Too Brave to Dream (2016)

Mared Emlyn

Mared Emlyn is a graduate of Bangor University, who completed a doctorate in performance on the harp and composition in 2014. She studied composition with Prof Pwyll ap Siôn and harp with Elinor Bennett, with additional lessons in Switzerland and Canada. Mared has received many composition commissions, including works for Wales International Piano Festival, Colwyn Male Voice Choir, a work for the Bangor Music Festival premiered by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and a harp concerto for the Beaumaris Festival. In 2018, she collaborated with musician Gwenan Gibbard and poet Mererid Hopwood on a commission by the Wales International Harp Festival to celebrate the world-renowned harpist Osian Ellis’ 90th birthday.

Susan Fogarty

Susan Fogarty is a founder and director of the RS Thomas & ME Eldridge Society, facilitating RS Thomas events in Aberdaron and elsewhere since 2013. She specialises in reading Thomas’s work: engaging her audience to move through the poetry, in churches and the natural environment. She has written articles for The Church Times, Faith & Freedom and Christians Aware. She has been a Journeying leader: guiding people on walking holidays with a spiritual intent. She co-leads RS Thomas retreats with her partner John McEllhenney in the UK and America. In 2022 she co-created a website dedicated to the life and work of M E Eldridge

Francis Pott

Francis Pott

Francis Pott is professor of composition at the University of West London, who has developed an international reputation as a composer over the past thirty years. His dramatic, challenging music unites a distinctive personal voice with a highly disciplined but versatile technique rooted in a keen awareness of the past. To date his works (including a steady flow of major commissions) have been heard in concerts and on radio across the UK and in over forty countries worldwide. They have been widely published and extensively recorded for global release. His works Into The Light and Word were nominated for US Grammy Awards. www.francispott.com