We were delighted to receive six nominations for the two vacancies on our Society of Authors in Wales steering group committee.
The candidates up for nomination are:
- Cath Barton
- Marta Dziurosz
- Carol Harris
- Aaron Kent
- Katie Munnik
- Taz Rahman
Please note: Only Full Members can vote. The closing date for voting is Monday 1 May at 5pm.
For validation purposes, you will be required to give your membership number in order to vote. You can find your SoA ID on your membership card or you can email the Membership Team.
Any questions? Contact Group Coordinator Francesca Howell.
The publishing world is overcrowded, competitive and can appear intimidating and sometimes frankly hostile. This makes it all the more important that writers should support one another and help each other navigate these choppy waters. I believe that the Society of Authors is ideally placed to contribute to this support. Writers in Wales will not necessarily want to associate exclusively with colleagues in this country – and indeed should feel that that they can stand on an equal footing with those in the rest of the UK and beyond. On the other hand, many will feel a close affinity with others in Wales, and I appreciate the recognition of this in the structures of the Society. Welsh and Wales-based authors, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, should expect a full range of opportunities from publishers based in this country, and I believe we should have support from the Society in this respect.
I am an active member of the Monmouth SoA group, involved in organising opportunities for local writers to engage with readers and sell our books. If elected I would bring my organisational skills to the Wales Steering Committee and welcome the opportunity to share my personal experience of working with publishers in Wales and beyond. I am a good and empathetic listener. I also have considerable experience of committee work (from my previous career in the NHS) and am well used to working with people at all levels and from many different backgrounds.
Cath Barton (she/her) is an English writer who has lived in Abergavenny since 2005. She won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella 2017 for The Plankton Collector, which was published by New Welsh Review in 2018. Subsequent publications of novellas are In the Sweep of the Bay (2020, Louise Walters Books) shortlisted for Best Novella in the Saboteur Awards 2021, and Between the Virgin and the Sea (2023, Novella Express, Leamington Books). Cath’s short stories have been published in The Lonely Crowd, Strix and a number of anthologies. She was awarded a place on the 2018 Literature Wales Enhanced Mentoring Scheme to work on a collection of short stories inspired by the work of the sixteenth century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch. She is working on a novel set in the circus, and is currently a reader for the Cheshire Novel Prize 2023. https://cathbarton.com @CathBarton1
I would like to join the Society of Authors Wales committee because I am interested in fostering a lively community of literary creators. I have three years’ experience on the Translators Association committee, during which time I co-organised and/or chaired many events; I think hybrid or online literary events in a “post”-pandemic world are a great way to galvanise local bookshops, and allow authors to find new readers. One of my goals would be to produce a checklist for organising an event like this, targeted at individual creators and smaller independent publishing houses.
Having immigrated into the UK from Poland 12 years ago, I have had the privilege of working in publishing and with words on all sorts of roles, from an entry-level position at a publishing house to negotiating advanced publishing contracts and receiving prizes for my literary translation. My main point of interest is translation, and in a wider perspective – mediation. I think it’s important to empower writers, translators and other creators in their dealings with publishing houses, and also to try and neutralise the us-versus-them mentality that sometimes prevails. The more the two sides of the industry know about each other, the better for everyone. If possible, I would like to work on facilitating this mutual knowledge.
Marta Dziurosz lives in Wales and translates across Polish and English. She was Free Word Centre’s last Translator in Residence (2015-2016) and now combines translation with negotiating publishing contracts for Pan Macmillan, working in literary events, and writing. She is a member of the Translators Association and spent three years on the Association’s committee. Her translation of Marcin Wicha’s Things I Didn’t Throw Out is out now from Daunt Books, having won the 2022 TA First Translation Prize and a PEN Translates award. Her previous publications include a co-translation of the New York Times bestseller, Renia Spiegel’s Renia’s Diary: A Young Girl’s Life in the Shadow of the Holocaust. She has also had many translations published online. Her literary criticism and writings on translation have been published by Asymptote, The Glasgow Review of Books, The Linguist, In Other Words and elsewhere. She has organised, chaired and/or interpreted literary events with a range of eminent writers, including Olga Tokarczuk, Edmund de Waal, Deborah Levy and Anton Hur.
I’ve lived in Wales (just outside Welshpool), with my husband, for over thirty years. I’ve always felt that if you join an association you should be prepared to contribute. I’ve been Chair of the Association for Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a Council member of the Institute of Management Consultants, Chair of a branch of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, on the committee of the Alexandra Palace Action Group and Programme Organiser for my local u3a branch (I also run a monthly Psychology/NLP group for u3a). I’m currently on the Council of the Richmond Group of Independent Consultants. I’ve also been on the organising committee of the Montgomeryshire Literary Festival (Montylitfest) since it started. I’ve regularly attended meetings of (and presented to) the Aberystwyth Group of SOA and also attend meetings of the North Wales and Shropshire groups.
Some of my strengths in committees are coming up with ideas, seeing the ‘big picture’, helping maintain focus on the task and staying on track, thinking about promotional activities and taking personal responsibility where necessary. (I am not good at admin. or technology, however). My guiding principles are simplicity, humour and curiosity. I’m sometimes a bit quirky and have been called a ‘food whisperer’.
I think my writing activities/experience give me some insights into, and understanding of, the interests, attitudes and concerns of other authors and prospective authors.
My interests outside work/writing have included teaching fencing, Taiko (Japanese drumming), Indian classical dance, showing and judging Afghan Hounds and cooking.
My background is in the corporate world. I was a Director of the Arts Council of Great Britain (in those days we were responsible for the Welsh Arts Council too). I’ve run businesses since 1986, including management consultancy, training, network marketing and publishing (publishing/editing magazines and newsletters including an international magazine for management consultants, house journals and membership organisation magazines).
I’ve written around 15 books, some traditionally published (one in print for 25 years and one the market leader in its field – literally, as it was about pig-keeping) and some self-published. Topics include business, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, weight management, networking, memoirs and magazine production. I have three books for children (on ecology, health and friendship). Also new books on business, personal effectiveness and writing – all humorous conversations with inanimate objects.
And as I’m Jewish (although not practising), I suppose I count as an ethnic minority. My website is www.carolharris.uk
I run Broken Sleep Books, and in doing so have continuously advocated for a widening of access to the arts. As a working-class guy, who grew up in poverty in Redruth, Cornwall (the 2nd most deprived area in Western Europe), I never believed the arts were a thing I could do for a career. But, people of low socioeconomic status are not only a valuable part of the arts, but also bring a range of diverse and important voices to a sector that can be far too narrow. I am partially sighted, after surviving a brain haemorrhage at the end of 2020, and I feel I can offer a perspective and voice for disabled authors, and for working-class authors. The arts run the risk of only engaging with people who have connections, or who have the money and time to make connections, and it is vital, now more than ever during this cost of living crisis, that we offer the spectacular wonder of security creative arts can provide to both practitioners and audiences. I want to ensure there is a voice for people of low socio-economic status, and ensure that we widen that access to the arts, that we can provide a space for all voices, and that we support those who need us most.
Aaron Kent is a working-class writer and insomniac from Cornwall. His work has been praised by the likes of JH Prynne, Gillian Clarke, Andre Bagoo, Andrew McMillan, and Anthony (Vahni) Capildeo. His new book, The Working Classic, will be released with the87press in December 2023 and concerns how working-class voices are ignored unless those voices are an act of appropriation by middle and upper-classes. Aaron was awarded the Awen medal from the Bards of Cornwall in 2020 for his poetry book The Last Hundred (Guillemot, 2019), then subsequently suffered a brain haemorrhage a few months later. Coincidence? Probably.
I’m submitting my name for the Society of Authors in Wales Committee because I’d like an opportunity to serve the wider literary community. When I moved to Wales seven years ago, I was pleased to find a regular meeting of writers, focused around First Thursday at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, hosted by Amy Wack with Seren Books. Being able to meet monthly with other working writers gave me confidence to share my work and the chance to build relationships with peers and role models. Strong, interconnected communities are vital to literary health. I feel the Committee can further encourage and support such communities throughout Wales, and I would like to be part of that work.
To the Committee, I can bring my curiosity and a desire to build and participate in communities as well as a familiarity with committee work through my background with arts and faith groups in Edinburgh and London, and in Ottawa, Canada. I have co-ordinated groups of volunteers, developed communication strategies, written successful grant applications, and developed and maintained community websites and social media presences. I also bring my experience as an early career novelist and poet, with three books published: two novels with HarperCollins and one short prose and poetry collection with Wild Goose Publications, a small independent Scottish press.
I am a Canadian writer living in Wales. In 2017, I won the Borough Press Open Submission, and my debut novel, The Heart Beats in Secret was a USA Today Bestseller. My prose, poetry and creative non-fiction have been published in magazines, journals, and newspapers in the UK, the USA and Canada. My second novel, The Aerialists, was published in April 2022 and is the Waterstones Welsh Book of the Month for April 2023. I am a recipient of a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary, a Canada Council for the Arts Explore and Create Grant, and a Society of Authors Authors’ Foundation Grant. I am a graduate of Queen’s University, the University of St Andrews, and the Humber School for Writers.
I came to know about the SoA committee from my friend Alun Gibbard during a conversation last Thursday as we were driving to Narbeth for a Pen Cymru poetry reading. Later that afternoon I received an email from SoA about the committee seeking new members.
My interest in the committee is part of my general interest in supporting writers in terms of visibility and creating further opportunities, part of which I am already involved in my capacity as the person behind the Youtube poetry channel Just Another Poet (link: tinyurl.com/t8kgbax), which aims to widen interest in poets and their works.
My own development as a writer from a global majority background living in Wales for three decades has made me all too aware of the fundamental challenges faced by writers from diverse backgrounds. My personal writing career started late in 2018 and in a short few years I have worked extremely hard to be having my first poetry collection being published by Seren Books in 2024.
I am painfully aware that success as a writer in any field isn’t just about the arduous task of working, but there are other factors such as working conditions, visibility, networking and negotiating one’s mental health in order to be at a book launch or prize podium. The present application is to learn more about the challenges faced by writers and support the existing framework of the committee with a fresh perspective, especially with my experience of digitally promoting the poetry world.
Taz Rahman spent his very early years in Dhaka, Bangladesh, attended school in Birmingham and university in Cardiff. He had lived in Cardiff for thirty years and started writing poetry in 2019 and has also written short fiction, essays, reviews and plays. His first poetry collection is forthcoming in February 2024 from Seren Books. He was shortlisted for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Prize 2022 and was awarded a place in the Representing Wales writer development programme by Literature Wales in 2021. He is the reader’s committee chair of the leading poetry magazine Poetry Wales and part of the editorial team for climate emergency themed literary magazine Modron. He founded Wales’ first Youtube poetry channel Just Another Poet in 2019 to widen access to poetry and poets. https://tazrahman.blogspot.com/