Welsh Union of Writers

The Welsh Union of Writers was founded at a poet's summit at Llanerch in the summer of 1982. It fell victim to apparently terminal apathy in 2002 and finally gave up the ghost at a farewell bash at Cardiff's Big Sleep Hotel just before Christmas 2004. The Union was founded to make space for what was seen at the time as a group of linguistic outsiders, radical journalists, difficult poets, and incisive fictioneers. Writing in English in Wales was seen to be dominated by a small power group who managed all the outlets - the grants, the publishers, the venues, the magazines. The Union which came out of the initial meeting would become its own publisher and would vigorously promote the Welsh alternative. For twenty years, with wildly varying degrees of success, that's just what it did.

Below is one of the very few photographs from that first meeting. Taken on a cheap instamatic camera which used flash cubes and a cassette-held film it's the blurriest of historical documents. The writers are: (back row standing, left to right): Glyn Pursglove, John Freeman, Robert Minhinnick, Bob Hill, Peter Finch, Chris Torrance, Phil Maillard, Graham Jones, Nigel Jenkins, (front row, seated) Andy Sanderson, Cliff James, John Tripp, John Osmond, Robin Campbell. No women, you'll notice. Mostly poets, or journalists. Where are they now? Still around, a fair number. A tribute to Welsh staying power.

but just who are they?  And what do they look like now?
photo copyright Peter Finch


Early in 2005 the Union passed its residual funds to the Academi and asked that they be spent on a Robin Reeves Memorial reading, members' curry and uplifting talk. That event took place as part of the Bay Lit festival for 2005.


Herbert Williams reads
Herbert Williams finishes the Union off - Big Sleep, December 2004.
Camera photo: Huw Morgan


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