Volcano Fridays: writers from Syria, Charlie Hebdo and around the world feature in Swansea festival

Swansea is to host writers from around the world – from China to Charlie Hebdo, Syria to Sierra Leone, Turkey to Townhill - in a series of ten free weekly events celebrating world literature in 15 different languages.

Held at the Volcano Theatre on Swansea’s resurgent High Street, fast becoming a hub for the arts, the events - called “Volcano Fridays” - will bring voices from all around the world to Swansea.   The series starts on Friday April 7th, with one event every Friday until 23 June. 

See the full programme.  All events are free and open to all. No booking required.

Volcano Fridays are organised by Swansea University and Wales PEN Cymru, part of a worldwide organisation defending the rights of writers.

Critically acclaimed authors, local storytellers and refugee poets will perform, with each event featuring various languages, and interpreters on hand as needed.  Highlights include:

  • Marie Darrieussecq, renowned French novelist, translator, and satirist with Charlie Hebdo
  • Internationally-celebrated Chinese poet Yang Lian
  • Ifor ap Glyn, the National Poet of Wales, and bilingual Welsh poets Rhys Trimble, Zoë Skoulding and Menna Elfyn
  • Best-selling Polish writer Wioletta Greg, who is on the Man Booker International Prize longlist
  • Swansea’s celebrated community writing group Poets on the Hill
  • Refugee writers living in Wales, who originally come from countries such as Syria, Sudan, or Sierra Leone.

Local Welsh-speaking folk musicians will be performing every evening, curated by Huw Dylan Owen.

400 x 598Picture: Wioletta Greg, best-selling Polish writer, on the Man Booker International Prize longlist

Professor Tom Cheesman of the department of languages, translation and interpreting at Swansea University, initiator of Volcano Fridays, said: 

“Volcano Fridays will be a forum for connecting communities, and for sharing the universal language of the imagination. It will be a festival for modern literature from around the world.

Artists will perform their work and discuss with the audience - events include music, film clips, and discussions with translators and researchers.

The idea is to bring together literature lovers, whatever their backgrounds.

Volcano Fridays are open to all. 

Anyone curious about world literature can come along, including the many people in Swansea who come from different backgrounds and speak different languages.”

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Picture:  Marie Darrieussecq, French novelist, translator and satirist with Charlie Hebdo

Professor Iwan Davies, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Swansea University, said:

"Swansea University is an outward-looking global university, which is rooted in Wales, and committed to education, culture and the arts. 

It is therefore very fitting that our researchers and students should be at the heart of this extraordinary initiative.   

Volcano Fridays will give people in Swansea – of all languages and backgrounds – an opportunity to hear the voices of esteemed writers from Wales and around the world.”  

Swansea University students in languages, translation and interpreting are supporting the event.  Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group are also involved. 

Professor Tom Cheesman is a lecturer and researcher in German and Translation Studies, and a committee member of Wales PEN Cymru.  PEN aims to support literacy and creative writing education, and struggles for writers’ rights, both abroad and in this country – including the right to express yourself in your own language.

Volcano Fridays form part of a research project which will investigate important questions about our increasingly multilingual society. How much do languages divide communities? How can language gaps best be bridged? Is multilingualism seen as a threat, or an opportunity; a curse, or a delight? Is multilingualism changing all our languages?

The project is called ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Remaking Community’. It is based in Swansea University’s Department of Languages, Translation and Interpreting, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council within the £14 million UK-wide Open World Research Initiative.

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P‌icture:  some of the students volunteering to make Volcano Fridays a success - boosting their employability too.  Pictured with organiser Prof Tom Cheesman (far right).‌