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Diana Powell

Song of the Water

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  • £6


This book will be released in April 2023.

Pre-orders are charged at time of order and the book will be posted to you as soon as it becomes available.

 

Holy Wells of Wexford and Pembrokeshire: Volume Four

In English and Welsh with a trilingual introduction (English, Welsh and Irish) 

 

Song of the Water presents two stories set in the time of the early saints by Diana Powell. In ‘Gift’, we are submerged into the birth of St David in a visceral and watery account seen through his mother’s eyes. It is said that Non, a powerful saint in her own right, gave birth to David on a clifftop in a terrible storm. In ‘A Pilgrim’s Wife’, we meet St Gwenonwy ach Meurig, a welsh noblewoman who married St Gwyndaf, an aristocrat and native of Brittany. St Gwyndaf was a contemporary of David and Aidan, and it was a falling out with the latter over a holy well that led to his settling at Llanwnda, at least for a while. Of Gwenonwy, we know very little. Did she embrace this ascetic lifestyle on the bleak and wild coastline of North Pembrokeshire, or did she long for her old life of relative luxury or did she pursue a different path all of her own? The two stories are illustrated with fluid and earthy etchings by Flora McLachlan. 

 

A reliable and clean source of water is essential for any community, so it is easy to understand how important wells were for pre-modern peoples. More complex is the mystical relationship humans have developed with these sites, which are imbued with a sacredness that predates Christianity. Holy Wells of Wexford and Pembrokeshire is a series of five chapbooks celebrating holy wells in two regions with common ancestry and history. Since at least the Bronze Age, sea travel between these two lands has meant cross fertilisation of traditions and common names associated with wells of both regions. Of significance is the long-standing friendship between two early Christian saints: David, who became the first Bishop of St Davids; and Aidan, born in Ireland, who spent time in Wales and then founded monasteries in Ireland, including at Ferns. In Oilgate, Wexford, there is a well dedicated to David and, at Whitesands near St Davids in Pembrokeshire, there is one named after Aidan. Each of the five books approaches the subject from different perspectives and mediums, including fiction, poetry and essays as well as photographs and prints.

Holy Wells of Wexford and Pembrokeshire is a series of five chapbooks commissioned by Ancient Connections, an EU funded arts, heritage and tourism project linking north Pembrokeshire with north Wexford led by Pembrokeshire County Council with partners Wexford County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Visit Wexford. The series coincides with the launch of a new pilgrim route; Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way between Ferns in County Wexford and St Davids in Pembrokeshire. The holy wells explored in this series through fiction, essays, photographs, poetry and prints are all on or close to the new pilgrim route.

 

 

Diana Powell’s stories have featured in a number of competitions, including the 2020 Society of Authors ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award (runner-up), the 2020 TSS Cambridge Prize (3rd place) and the 2019 Chipping Norton Literature Festival Prize (winner). Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and journals, including Best (British) Short Stories 2020 (Salt). Her novella, Esther Bligh, was published in June 2018 (Holland House Books). Her collection of stories, Trouble Crossing the Bridge was published in 2020 by Chaffinch Press. Her novella, The Sisters of Cynvael won the 2021 Cinnamon Press Literature Award, and will be published next year.

Diana was born and brought up in Carmarthenshire, and studied English at Aberystwyth university. She has lived in north Pembrokeshire for the past twelve years, but her connection with the county goes back much further. Her great-grandfather was the vicar of Cilrhedyn in the magical, mythical Cych valley, which is perhaps why magic and myth feature so often in her stories.


Flora McLachlan lives on the shifting misty ground of a bog in West Wales. She is an artist working in traditional etching, stone lithography, paint, performance, and film. She has a degree in English from Oxford University and an MA in Fine Art from Aberystwyth School of Art. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and of the Royal Cambrian Academy. She teaches printmaking workshops at Walden Arts, Aberteifi and at Aberystwyth Printmakers. Flora’s work investigates the idea of inspiration; a breath from elsewhere which directs the artist in their work. She sees this state as a receptive, shamanistic mode, so she uses ritual and divination in her work to provoke unexpected connections. The copper etching plate enters the acid bath as into a witch’s cauldron; working like this, she invokes the imagined power of writing incantations and casting spells. 

 

THIS SERIES OF CHAPBOOKS ARE £6 EACH OR £25 FOR ALL FIVE TITLES.