Yearly Archives: 2022

My books at Shelf Life, Cardiff

What a lovely bookshop Cardiff’s  Shelf Life is. Small, but perfectly formed if what you’re looking for are books that are radical.

What does ‘radical’ mean?

Owner, Rosie Smith favours stocking less-heard voices. She wants book-buyers to come across topics and people and situations that they may not have previously known about. She says:

“I want to engender solidarity between readers and the people they read about, and between communities. I stock the kind of books that can foster compassion. I hope they encourage a less individualistic approach to life. I’m a fan of collectivism.”

Bookseller, Rosie Smith in Shelf Life

Since those are my ideals too I am very glad that Shelf Life now has my books

Continue reading My books at Shelf Life, Cardiff

Interview by Taz Rahman

It was a pleasure to interviewed about my writing by poet, Taz Rahman as part of his long-running Just Another Poet series of conversations.

We talked about my poetry collection Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere and my shrot story collection A City Burning. Information about the books here

Being asked questions stimulates some thought! Most of the time I am writing, with a sense of purpose, yes, but not according to a theory. At some point it is certainly useful to be asked about genre, approach and so on. Reflecting aloud does provide insights and perspective that might otherwise be lacking.

You can read about Taz’s own work here

Brilliant Bargoed Library

I am so impressed with everything about Bargoed Library. I’ve just been there as Libraries Wales’ Author of the Month for December to read from my poetry collection Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere and my short story collection  A City Burning.

The library itself is in a bold re-fashioning of Hanbury Chapel in the heart of the town. This beautiful building, dating from 1906, now contains a scaled-down chapel, where the reading took place, and a full range of modern library facilities.  Historical Details on CADW coflein site. Fascinating.

The staff could not have done more to make it a pleasant experience for me. I could see beforehand that they were making great outreach efforts. They printed out 3 of my Christmas poems as cards that attendees could take away after the reading.  They had library copies of my books on display and I was able to offer copies for sale. Continue reading Brilliant Bargoed Library

The Paradise of Libraries

Libraries Wales Author of the Month December 2022, Angela Graham reflects on the role of public libraries in her writing life.

Cardiff Central and the Canton branch are the libraries of Wales which I know best.  In their different ways, but working together, they have supplied me with a range of books which I could never have accessed on my own, either because of cost or because a librarian’s advice steered me towards something I would have issed unaided.

The university libraries of Wales  have been a terrific resource, not only for books, but images and film, voice recordings and maps and documents.

What they all have in common is that they offer plentitde, ample resources, more than I imagined; and in that ‘more’ they broaden my outlook and extend my reach into my own life and the lives of others. They nourish. They nurture.

Libraries exemplify the Common Good. They’re a demonstration of how resources, that might have been restricted to a few, can be shared by many. Continue reading The Paradise of Libraries

1st Review of ‘Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere’!

by Mab Jones for BUZZ
Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere, Angela Graham (Seren, price: £9.99)

Moving beyond ‘home’ to the concept of ‘sanctuary’ is this collection, Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere, in which author Graham also includes/invites poems from five other contributors. The theme of the book is that, in these turbulent times, sanctuary can be quite hard to find. Where does it lie? Well, here are poems which explore that query and attempt to find out, evoking ideas and evincing emotions along the way as we traverse bombed cities and chapels, evacuation sites and shrines, lakes, holy wells, and even the body itself which, in the poem Chronic is no longer a refuge but a place in which “pain expels me from myself”. Eventually, the book leads to a hopeful conclusion, in which the poet affirms, “We are a home for one another”. This is the bottom line and, fittingly, the final line of the collection.

I found the poems in this book finely written and thoughtful. Despite the intelligence and philosophical loftiness, which I sometimes feel prohibits poets from delving into the dirt via language and image, Graham is a poet who doesn’t shy away from this, delivering, as well as literal bombs, the ‘f-bomb’ in one poem; neither is she one who is unable to explore or touch on concepts of divinity and use of the word ‘God’, which I find more f-bomb prone, gritty poets perhaps feel their own fear of and are less likely to address. Therefore, this comes across as an open-minded collection, and the poems, as mentioned, are very finely wrought, whether by Graham or by her guests. This is a generous inclusion, of course, but Graham is a poet who is skilled and sublime enough, I imagine, not to feel any threat from it or, indeed, from anyone or anything at all.

Buy at Seren Books: Sanctuary

All five reviews:

New poetry for August: home, sanctuary and radical Welsh verse


The book was supported by a SIAP Award from Arts Council of Northern Ireland via The National Lottery.

Cardiff Launch of Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere

I’m catching up with a very busy July. We had a great launch of Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere supported by  Seren Books and CABAN bookshop in Cardiff’s Pontcanna.

Elin Edwards, owner of Caban Bookshop, King’s Road, Pontcanna

Bookshop owner, Elin Edwards introduced me to the intriguing Dance Studio in King’s Road Yard. One whole wall is mirror, or gold curtaining, if you prefer that. Very atmospheric.

The audience had great questions after the reading and there was a sense of dialogue because of the contributions people made, bringing their own experience or reflections to the issues that included war, migration, the role of women in conflict, the fate of the environment and the creation of peace and security.

I felt very fortunate to have such an attentive and engaged audience who allowed me to feel that the poems ‘worked’ and communicated well.



Cardiff Poetry Festival – Poetry and Sanctuary


What rises in our imagination? The holy or the helpless; the planet we live on together or the contested part of it that is the goal of desperate migrants? Is sanctuary a place, a person or a state of mind? Sanctuary is incontestably a key issue of our time and a major driver of politics. These Welsh writers create together a new stage in our poetic engagement with sanctuary.


Beth sy’n codi yn ein dychymyg? Y sanctaidd neu’r digymorth; y blaned yr ydym yn byw arni gyda’n gilydd neu’r rhan ddadleuol ohoni sef nod mudwyr? Ai lle, unigolyn neu ffordd o feddwl yw noddfa? Heb os nac oni bai, noddfa yw broblem ein cyfnod ac yn bwnc llosg mewn gwleidyddiaeth. Dyma’r ysgrifenwyr hyn o Gymru yn mynd ati gyda’i gilydd i greu cam newydd yn ein hymgysylltiad barddonol â’r testun noddfa.

The panel members in this bilingual (Welsh/English) session were former National Poet of Wales, Gwyneth Lewis; co-architect of the Nation of Sanctuary movement, Rev Aled Edwards; novelist of migration and social activist, Dylan Moore and Joseph Gnagbo, a former refugee from the Ivory Coast now living in Wales.

Continue reading Cardiff Poetry Festival – Poetry and Sanctuary

Sanctuary in New Poetry – Cardiff Poetry Festival

Cardiff Poetry Festival took place over the last weekend in July. I was delighted to read from my collection Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere alongside Hannah Hodgson and Ben Wilkinson in a session of poetry newly published by Seren Books.

Hannah Hodgson’s 163 Days employs an innovative format to chronicle her hospital stay and treatments for a devastating illness: extracts from doctors’ notes are juxtaposed with her impressions of the same events. The objective and subjective side by side. Ot, it should be said, the supposedly objective.

The interplay between patient’s and doctor’s perspectives  gives the reader a seldom experienced stand point. We spot the subjective seeping into the medical records of treatment – the doctor’s take, not simply on the symptoms, but on the patient who is experiencing them. This either clarifies or clouds the decisions taken.  To  hear the patient’s voice almost simultaneously is to encounter a different kind of authority, that of the suffering subject, who is perfectly  capable of reading the symptoms the doctor (unconsciously) presents but who is accorded little recognised power. Power, its facets and its use, is a constant throughout the book.

Although one might say that the poetry in this book resides in the patient’s contributions, which employ devices typical of poetry as contrasted with the prosaic and precise medical use of language, part of the book’s appeal is that the affect-less medical notes acquire an emotional intensity as they collide or elide with the poetic voice.

This voice is robust but never strident. This admirable self-control achieves a great thing: it allows the reader to supply the anger, bafflement, hurt.

A memorable, epic journey.

Same Difference

Ben Wilkinson’s new collection examines relationships, sometimes from a wry perspective, as a poem’s protagonist grows in self-knowledge –  painful as well as uplifting – with a deft handling of a variety of forms.

It is particularly interesting to see a contemporary poet ‘coming to terms with’ a long-dead one, in this case, Verlaine: proof that poetic voice can remain vital, challenging and inspiring.

Running (an art or a sport?) is here given a poetic ‘voice’. One way for  those not devotees to get inside an activity that can seem from the outside supremely individual.









NVTV documentary series on Ulster-Scots writers

I had never been to Sentry Hill, near Larne, before going there to be interviewed by Liam Logan for his series on Ulster-Scots writing for Belfast cable channel Northern Visions (NVTV).

The house was built in 1835 , improved in the 1880s, and owned by the McKinney family until 1996.  William Fee McKinney (born 1832) collected farm implements and objects from rural life. The house’s interior and contents survive remarkably intact and give a good impression of a farm interior from the earlier twentieth century. It is run by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

Liam interviewed me in a small room where many guns and weapons (are those assegais on the ceiling?) are on display, alongside stuffed birds andmaybe an armadillo!

Liam asked me how I came to write in Ulster-Scots. Both my grandparents on my father’s side came from communities with this speech and it has remained in my inner ear, as it were. I have had a lot of help in foregrounding it from people such as Liam and from the indispensable Ulster-Scots Grammar by Philip Robinson; The Hamely Tongue by the late James Fenton (both Ullans Press) and Ulster-Scots Writers’ Guide (Ulster-Scots Academy Press) and comments from the Ulster-Scots Language Society.

I read some of my poems for the camera. I find it a great pleasure to work in Ulster-Scots and would like to do more.

Other  contemporary writers featured in the series are Alan Millar, Angeline King and Gary Morgan. All four of us are featured in the booklet produced as a follow-up to the Linen Hall LIbrary’s inaugural Ulster-Scots Writing Competition 2021 (supported by the Ulster-Scots Agency) in which we were all prize-winners.

Dr Pauline Holland, co-author of a biogrpahy of early eighteenth century poet, Sarah Leech,  will also appear and Barbara Gray, singer and lyricist. Academics Dr Ivan Herbison and Dr Frank Ferguson are on the roster too.

The programmes will be screened in the autumn.