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St. David's Society of Minnesota

United to Celebrate and Explore Welsh Culture

Book Group

  • Current
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Our Annual Events


St. David's Day Banquet

Every spring the Society celebrates St. David's Day on the Saturday closest to March 1. In 2022, we held the celebration via Zoom and featured a guest from Wales, Dai Harris, sang us a plygain carol and gave us some background on this old Welsh tradition.

Annual Picnic

Every summer the Society members meet to elect board members and officers and enjoy food and games -- and the outdoors.

Christmas/Holiday Tea

Every winter in December, society members gather to sing together in four-part harmony, tell stories, listen to other members make music, and enjoy the sweet and savory treats that everyone has brought. 

Welsh Events

For information on the 2021 North American Festival of Wales (NAFOW), go to IHQ@thewnaa.org.

Past Events

Well-Read Dragons Book Group

Saturday, October 1, 11:30 - 1 pm

Join us over Zoom to discuss books by Welsh authors and get to know other members.  Contact Ilene if you need a Zoom link at ilene.dawn@gmail.com.

Join us to discuss History of Wales in Twelve Poems by M. Wynn Thomas

2021, 112 pages; $11.00; Univ. of Wales Press
One of the poems is “Blodeuwedd” by Gillian Clarke. She is the poet that was one of our selections this past year. Another poem is Trafferth mewn Tafarn by Dafydd Ap Geilym. The English translation is “Trouble at a Tavern.” Of course, Dylan Thomas is represented. It would have been difficult not to include his classic: “Fern Hill.”

Upcoming Books to Read and Discuss

December 3, 2022: The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ro
Used copies run $4-10 used; $18 new; Deep Vellum Pub.   2021, 150 pp;   
This multi-award-winning title paints a spellbinding and eerie picture of society’s collapse and tender portrait of the relationships that persist after life as we know it disappears. Manon Steffan Ros is a Welsh novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, and she is half of the Welsh folk duo Blodau Gwyllltion. She has written over 40 books in Welsh. This is her first novel written in English.

February 4, 2023: Cove by Cynan Jones

2018, 92 pages; princes range from $4 used to $11 new; Catapalt Publishers
Cove is one of the ten titles in the Adventure category in the 100 Page Turners of Wales list: Out at sea, in a sudden storm, a man is struck by lightning. When he wakes, injured and adrift on a kayak, his memory of who he is and how he came to be here is all but shattered. He will need to rely on his instincts, resilience, and imagination to get safely back to the woman he dimly senses is waiting for his return. This is an extraordinary, visceral portrait of a man locked in a struggle with the forces of nature.

April 1, 2023: Drift by Caryl Lewis

2022; 240 pp; prices range from $5-20; Penguin
A Wales Arts Review piece says this about Drift: “Convincing myth-making sometimes feels lacking in contemporary fiction. The publishing world goes in and out with the tide of trends, and the literary sphere often positions style above substance – implied surrealism favoured over the explicitly stated, and arguably harder to pull off, creations of magical realism. In Drift, the English-language debut of multi-award-winning writer Caryl Lewis, the power of the mythic is put front and centre. Here is the crisp and emotive prose of an athletic storyteller – one who’s novel, Martha, Jac a Sianco {translated to English with the title Martha, Jack, and Shanco], is already considered a modern classic in Welsh literature – and she holds no truck with magical themes shrouded in prettified obscurity.” The main characters are from a coastal Welsh town, and Syria. The BBC Radio Wales broadcast of The Aberystwyth Book Club’s conversation about Drift, recorded during the 2022 Hayfest gathering,  is still available to hear.

June 3, 2023: I, Eric Ngall: One Man's Journey Crossing Continents from Africa to Europe

2019, 200pgs; $3-13; Parthian
I, Eric Ngalle is an exploration of memory and trauma… it takes guts to tell all in this way… in these xenophobic times, when migrants and refugees are pilloried or vilified it is a useful corrective to read a story such as this, to appreciate the inner steel and simple survival skills necessary to make such journeys. Eric Ngalle says that Wales gave him back his name, his voice and his identity. In turn, he now works with other refugees helping them find their voices and redact their own stories… quintessential tales of our age, when war, oppression and poverty dispossess so many. In finding sanctuary migrants such as Ngalle also enrich society, as he has proved by his many contributions to Welsh cultural and civic life.” Jon Gower, Nation.Cymru

Powerful and challenging... neki / nazromi / diolch!”  Ifor ap Glyn, outgoing National Poet of Wales

August 5, 2023: My Body Can House Two Hearts, a poetry chapbook by Hanan Issa

New national poet of Wales; 2019, $12; Burning Eye Books
Hanan Issa is a mixed-race poet from Wales. She has performed at numerous events across the UK and her work has been featured on both ITV Wales and BBC Radio Wales. Her winning monologue was performed at Bush Theatre’s Hijabi Monologues. She is the co-founder of Cardiff’s first BAME [Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic] open mic series ‘Where I’m Coming From’. She is also one of the 2018 Hay Writers at Work. (Note: We’re leaving this til the last so that we can include any poems she writes during the first year as the Welsh poet laureate.

Other Books Nominated (but not chosen for this year)

The Mab: Eleven Epic Stories edited by Matt Brown and Eloise Williams
Treacle Walker by Alan Garner
Fearless by Kristin F. Johnson
Slave Wales: The Welsh and Atlantic Slavery 1660 - 1850 by Chris Evans
History Grounded: Looking for the History of Wales by Elin Jones


Book Club Choices from Past Years

2021 - 2022

Salt, by Catrin Kean
Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve by Dannie Abse
History of the Rain by Niall Williams
Impassioned Clay by Stevie Davies
Stillicide by Cynan Jones
Poems by Gillian Clarke

2020 - 2021

Broken Ghost by Niall Griffiths

The Moving of the Water by David Lloyd,

Welsh Saints on the Mormon Trail: The Story of Welsh Emigration to Salt Lake City in the Nineteenth Century by Wil Aaron

The Salt Path: A Memoir by Raynor Winn,

The Valley, The City, The Village by Glyn Jones,

White Star by Robin Llywelyn

 

2019 - 2020

Flame in the Mountains, Williams Pantycelyn, Ann Griffith and the Welsh Hymns by H.A. Hodges, ed. E. Wyn James (scheduled but not discussed because of pandemic)

I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh 

Ibrahim and Reenie by David Llewellyn

New Welsh Short Stories, ed. by Francesca Rhydderch & Penny Thomas

Pigeon by Alys Conrad

A Simple Scale by David Llewellyn

 

2018-2019

Shoes for Anthony by Emma Kennedy

Dark Territory by Jerry Hunter

Rebecca’s Daughters by Dylan Thomas

Aberfan by Gaynor Madgwich

Rice Paper Diaries by Francesca Rhydderch

Remember No More: A DS Kite Mystery by Jan Newton.

 

2017 - 2018

Bred of Heaven by Jasper Rees

A Childhood in a Welsh Mining Valley by Vivian Jones

The Long Dry by Cynan Jones

The Breathing and/or All the Souls by Mary-Ann Constantine

The Vegetarian Tigers of Paradise by Crystal Jeans

Reader Choice – Short Stories

 

2016 - 2017

Everything I Found on the Beach  by Cynan Jones

The Bank Manager and the Holy Grail: Travelers to the Wilder Reaches of Wales by Byron Rogers

The Owl Service by Alan Garner

Addlands  by Tom Bullough

Land of My Neighbours by Barry Pilton

Presenting Saunders Lewis by Alun R. Jones and Gwyn Thomas

 

2015 – 2016 

Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals by Wendy Jones

I Saw a Man by Owen Sheers 

The Dig by Cynan Jones

Contact! A Book of Encounters by Jan Morris

Wales on the Western Front by John Richards

Reader Choice – poetry

 

2014 – 2015

Dai Country by Alun Richards

Beyond the Pampas: In Search of Patagonia by Imogen Rhia Herrad.

David Jones in the Great War by Thomas Dilworth

Faith, Hope & Love by Llwyd Owen

American Interior by Gruff Rhys

The Awakening by Kate Roberts and/or Awakening by Stevie Davies

 

2013 - 2014

The Gospel of Us by Owen Sheers

Turf or Stone by Margiad Evans

Testimonies: A Novel by Patrick O’Brian.

Into Suez by Stevie Davies

One Moonlit Night by Caradog Prichard

Reader Choice – White Raven’s by Owen Sheers, or any other book(s) in the Seren Mabinogion series

 

2012 - 2013

Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer by Tim Jeal   

Darkness Visible by Trilby Busch

History on the Welsh Church in Jackson, Ohio: Travel, Fishing and Farewells by Evan O. Roberts, trans. by Martha Davies

Dragon & Crescent by Grahame Davies

Rape of the Fair Country by Alexander Cordell

Resistance by Owen Shears

 

2011 – 2012

Faded Coat of Blue by Owen Parry

Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins

Written in Blood: Crime Fiction with a Twist, various authors

The Children of First Man by James Alexander Thom, or any book about Prince Madog

Calvinists Incorporated: Welsh Immigrants on Ohio's Industrial Frontier by Anne Kelly Knowles

A Man's Estate by Emyr Humphreys

 

2010 - 2011

History on Our Side: Wales & the 1984–85 Miner’s Strike by Hywel Francis

The Corn is Green by Emlyn Williams

Real Wales by Peter Finch

Twenty Thousand Saints by Flur Dafydd 

Stranger Within the Gates by Bertha Thomas

The White Lane by Kate Roberts

 

2009 - 2010

Baghdad Barcarolle. How Beatrice Ohanessian Became Iraq’s Foremost Classical Pianist by On Angel Mountain by Holly Windle   

Before the Last All Clear by Ray Evans

Sea Holly by Robert Minhinnick

Falls the Shadow by Sharon Penman

Reader Choice – any book about King Arthur

Reader Choice – book by Robertson Davies, Canadian mystery writer

 

2004 - 2008

Here Be Dragons by Sharon Penman

On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin

The Matter of Wales by Jan Morris

Feet in Chains by Kate Roberts

A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters

Travels in an Old Tongue by Patricia Petro

A View Across the Valley: Short Stories by Women from Wales, 1850-1950, Jane Aaron, ed.

What I Saw in Bethesda by Charles Sheridan

The Fight for Welsh Freedom by Gwynfor Evans

A Place in the Mind: A Boyhood in Llyn by R. Gerallt Jones

A Welsh Childhood by Alice Thomas Ellis

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies

Urban Dreams: Rural Realities by Daniel Butler and Bel Crewe

Running for the Hills by Horatio Clare

Sugar for Slate by Charlotte Williams

The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi

Early History of the Welsh in the Proscairon District of Wisconsin by Daniel Williams; translated by Phillips G. Davies, updated by Martha Davies

Westering Home by Audrey McClellan

Wild Wales by George Borrow